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Suspect in 1988 killing of Indiana girl, 8, appears in court

FORT WAYNE, Ind. – A man arrested in 1988 slaying of an 8-year-old Indiana girl after authorities said they linked him to the crime with DNA appeared Monday before the judge, who gave prosecutors 72 hours to formally charge him in the child’s abduction, rape and murder.

John D. Miller, 59, of Grabill, was arrested Sunday on a preliminary murder, child murder and criminal confinement charges in April Marie Tinsley the dead. The Fort Wayne girl, her body was found in a ditch three days after her April 1988 kidnapping about 20 miles (32 km) away.

Miller is being held without bond and it was not clear whether he has a lawyer who could speak on behalf of him. He is scheduled to appear Thursday in Allen Superior Court for a formal arraignment.

When the police arrived Sunday in Miller’s home near Fort Wayne, they asked him if he knew why they were there, and he replied: “April Tinsley,” before the authorisation to kill her, investigators said in a probable cause affidavit. Miller allegedly admitted kidnapping Tinsley and then sexually assaulting and killing her, at Grabill home for the dumping of her body on April 2, 1988, according to the affidavit.

Researchers examined genealogical databases — the same search method that helped researchers in California called the Golden State Killer Joseph James DeAngelo in April — in the search for Tinsley’s killer, according to the affidavit.

It is still unclear how detectives Brian Martin of the Fort Wayne Police and Clint Hetrick of the Indiana State Police used DNA information in the Tinsley case, but the statement says they worked with “the educated genealogist” CeCe Moore, a genetic genealogist.

The Allen County department planned a news conference Tuesday morning to discuss the case.

The affidavit, filed Sunday, says Miller’s DNA matches DNA found in used condoms from trash in his mobile home on July 9.

Miller’s DNA matches DNA taken from Tinsley underwear, and of the three used condoms that were found in 2004 at locations in Fort Wayne and Grabill, together with the messages that the killer apparently left 16 years after the crime, the affidavit states.

Miller was wearing a blue jumpsuit, his hands and feet shackled when he appeared Monday before an Allen County judge, who asked him whether he understood the preliminary cost that he encounters.

“Yes,” Miller said during the hearing was attended by a number of Tinsley family, WANE-TV reported.

Paul Helmke, who was Fort Wayne mayor as Tinsley was killed, said the community always held out hope that there will eventually be an arrest in the troubling case.

“It was like a wound in the community on the heart,” he said in The Journal Gazette.

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