Balloon launch to remember April Marie Tinsley, other child victims of violence in Fort Wayne

April Marie Tinsley's homicide in 1988 remains unsolved. The 8-year-old will be remembered, as will other children who have died violently, with a balloon launch in April. (Courtesy photo)
Using Snapshot DNA Phenotyping and a forensic artist, a composite profile of April Marie Tinsley's suspected killer was released in 2016 by the Fort Wayne Police Department. This rendering allowed the artist to humanize features and use age progression in an attempt to accurately depict the suspect. (Photo courtesy of the Fort Wayne Police Department)

Paul Tinsley, 32, remembers very little of his sister, April Marie, says their mother, Janet.

He remembers how they’d “beat up” on their dad when she came home from work by jumping on him, Janet Tinsley said.

When he was 2, “he remembers she went to school one day and came home and then she wasn’t there anymore,” Janet Tinsley said.

He was 9 years old before his parents sat him down to explain what had happened to her.

In Remembrance of April Marie Tinsley will be held at 5 p.m. April 4 to honor the 8-year-old girl, who was killed in 1988 by an unknown assailant.

The event will include a balloon launch and will be held at April’s Garden, a memorial on the corner of Hoagland Avenue and Masterson Street in the neighborhood where she lived.

In case of rain, the event will be held April 5 at the same place and time.

Helium-filled blue, pink and purple balloons, April’s favorite colors, will be used, but participants may bring other colors.

“No matter what she wore, there would be pink, blue and purple in it,” Janet Tinsley said.

Janet Tinsley was approached by a father whose two children were killed in a fire who asked to mention their names at April’s annual memorial event. She welcomed it, and all children who have died by violent means can be honored at the event.

“It will be April’s day, but we’ll have it for all children who died violent deaths,” she said.

On April 1, 1988, the first-grader left a friend’s house to get her umbrella and never returned home. Three days later, a jogger found her body in a ditch on a rural DeKalb County road. She had been sexually molested and suffocated.

Police obtained evidence at the crime scene for a partial DNA analysis, but a new technique and technology have made a full DNA analysis possible. That DNA also matched DNA found in 2004 letters threatening other young girls.

As a result of the new DNA techniques, a composite drawing, with age progression on it, was released in 2016.

On Tuesday, Janet Tinsley talked to Fort Wayne Police again, who say that they continue to look into tips into April’s death, she said.

April’s death has been discussed on the nationally syndicated crime show “America’s Most Wanted.”

Janet and Michael Tinsley, along with son Paul, spent about 12 years in Kentucky but the trio returned about five years ago to Fort Wayne to be closer to family after Michael suffered some health scares.

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