Court finds probable cause for the arrest of Grabill man accused in the abduction and murder of April Tinsley in Fort Wayne
The Grabill man accused of abducting and killing then-8-year-old April Marie Tinsley in April 1988 was ordered held without bond in the Allen County Jail during a court hearing today at which Magistrate David Zent also found probable cause for the preliminary murder and other charges filed against him.
John D. Miller, 59, of the 13700 block of Main Street in Grabill, was arrested Sunday on preliminary charges of murder, child molesting and confinement in connection with Tinsley’s April 1, 1988, disappearance and murder. Her body was found April 4 in a ditch in the 5000 block of DeKalb County Road 68 near Spencerville.
An autopsy determined she had been sexually assaulted and choked to death.
The Allen County Prosecutor’s office now has until Thursday to file formal criminal charges against Miller. A court hearing also has been set for that day in the case.
A short, stocky man, Miller was brought into the Allen Superior Court courtroom in the Bud Meeks Justice Center wearing navy blue jail clothing and had his hands in handcuffs.
He sat quietly during the hearing, which lasted only a few minutes.
“I just wanted to get up and go over and slap him one,” Teresa Tinsley, April Tinsley’s aunt, said outside the justice center after the hearing.
Sitting in the second row of seats in the audience area, diagonally across the courtroom from Miller, Teresa Tinsley peered around a podium to get a good look at him and sobbed quietly throughout the hearing.
She was joined by her daughter and niece and her niece’s husband.
Teresa Tinsley and her niece’s husband wore bright blue T-shirts that said, “Never Forgotten, Always Remembered” on the front and “April Marie Tinsley 1980-1988” on the back.
Neither of April Tinsley’s parents attended the hearing. April’s mother, Janet, is very upset now but likely will attend hearings in the future, particularly the sentencing if Miller is convicted, Teresa Tinsley said.
April’s father still is struggling with whether police really have the right man this time because there have been other suspects over the years that didn’t turn out to be valid, she said.
Tinsley said the family didn’t have any advance warning that police were close to making an arrest in the case.
She was watching TV Sunday morning when her son-in-law called to ask if she has seen the “good news.” She asked what good news, and he told her police had arrested a man in connection with April Tinsley’s murder.
“I expected a monster, which is exactly what I (have) seen,” she said.
The case has been very difficult on the family because anyone they ran into theoretically could have been the killer, she said. That caused April’s parents to retreat somewhat from going out in public.
“Thank God for DNA,” Teresa Tinsley said. “If not for DNA, I’m not sure they would have gotten him.”
The probable cause affidavit says policed use DNA profiling and help from noted genetic genealogist CeCe Moore to develop information that led them to Miller.
Tinsley said the family now will wait for future court hearings.
“All we can do is wait until he comes back (to court) and justice is done,” she said.