Memorial tree, bench planned for April Tinsley at Fairfield Elementary School

April Marie Tinsley (Courtesy photo)

A flowering pink magnolia tree, one of 8-year-old April Tinsley’s favorite colors, and a bench will be installed as a memorial at the elementary school she was attending when she was abducted and killed in 1988.

The magnolia tree, donated by Hoot Landscape & Design in Fort Wayne, and bench, given by Polywood of Syracuse, will be in place before a candlelight vigil planned for 7-9 p.m. Sunday at the school, said Joyce McCartney, a Fort Wayne Community Schools spokeswoman.

The memorial will be placed in front of the school, 2825 Fairfield Ave., near the flagpole, McCartney said.

Polywood has a program to donate for memorials, and it offered to give one of its 48-inch long Nautical style benches to remember Tinsley, said Ryan Zimmerman, director of human resources. The bench, valued at $599, will come in the mahogany color. Like Polywood’s other products, it’s made from post-consumer milk jugs in a lumber-like product that’s fade-resistant.

The first-grader was last seen alive April 1, 1988. She was close to home after running a simple daytime errand. A girl told police she saw a man drag Tinsley into a blue pickup after Tinsley left a friend’s house to retrieve an umbrella at another girl’s house. She never arrived. A jogger discovered her body April 4 in a rain-filled ditch off a rural road in southern DeKalb County. She had been dead 24-48 hours.

The April Tinsley candlelight vigil Facebook site said Sunday’s event is to reflect on memories of Tinsley. A suspect was arrested last week in connection with her killing.

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