BAY VILLAGE — Investigators believe a homemade curtain and a store-bought blanket may be key pieces of evidence to help crack the case of the kidnapping and slaying of Amy Mihaljevic in 1989.
Former FBI Agent Phil Torsney said during a news conference Thursday morning that the two items were found about 1,000 feet from where the 10-year-old girl’s body was discovered in an Ashland County field by a jogger on Feb. 8, 1990.
He said after Amy disappeared from the Bay Square Shopping Center on Oct. 27, 1989, investigators took hair samples from Amy’s dog, Jake.
New advances in forensic techniques determined that hairs found on the blanket and 68-inch long curtain were consistent with those of the dog, which led police to believe Amy was wrapped in the curtain and blanket after she was killed and before her body was dumped in the field.
When Amy’s body was discovered about 50 miles away from Bay Village, she was still wearing the same clothes she had on when she disappeared, and the hairs transferred from her clothing to the fabric of the two items.
Torsney said although the blanket wasn’t all that distinctive, the tab-top curtain is unique. He said it was sewn by hand and a sewing machine from what appeared to be old bedding material, possibly a quilt or bedspread.
“The curtain and blanket together means something, but the curtain in particular has very specific characteristics which can help us out,” Torsney said.
Although the colorfast fabric of the curtain was slightly discolored from months of exposure to the elements and dirt, the original color was likely avocado green, he said.
Torsney said the two items, found when investigators walked the road Amy’s body was found along collecting everything they could find that might help with the investigation, were probably from where Amy was taken to after her abduction.
“We picked up every piece of garbage, every piece of debris,” including the blanket and the curtain, he said.
On the day she disappeared, Amy left school at 2:05 p.m. and walked around a quarter-mile to Bay Village Square Shopping Center with some friends, Bay Village Police Chief Mark Spaetzel said. She was last seen at the shopping plaza between 2:15 and 2:30 p.m.
Two witnesses said that before she disappeared Amy was seen talking to a white man, who was described as being between 30 and 40 years old. He had a medium build and was between 5 feet 7 inches and 5 feet 10 inches tall with dark hair and possibly glasses.
Spaetzel said the person would be in his mid 50s to mid 60s by now.
Police have said that a few days before she was kidnapped, Amy got a call from someone requesting her help picking out a gift for her mother, the late Margaret Mihaljevic, who had received a promotion at work, and the two made arrangements to meet.
Spaetzel also said that after Amy was last seen at the shopping center, she called her mother to check in with her about 3:30 p.m., the timing of which suggests she was already with her abductor.
Her mother believed Amy was at home and didn’t realize she was missing until she arrived home later in the day and eventually discovered her daughter’s bike was still at Bay Village Middle School.
She contacted police just before 6 p.m. that day, touching off the ongoing investigation that Spaetzel said has led to police running down “tens of thousands of leads” over the years.
“This has never been a cold case for us,” he said.
Amy’s father, Mark Mihaljevic, said that he’s hopeful the new evidence will be the break that finally solves the case.
“I think this is what we’ve been waiting for 25, 26 years,” he said.
The elder Mihaljevic said he appreciated all the work investigators and others have done over the years to find his daughter’s killer.
He also said that he still missed his daughter.
“I wish Amy was here,” he said, tears welling in his eyes.
Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty said investigators believe the person who took Amy probably has committed other crimes in the past.
“It’s only a fool who would believe this is the one and only crime this individual ever committed,” McGinty said.
He said there is a $50,000 reward for information that leads to the capture of the killer.
Anyone with information on the case should contact Bay Village police at (440) 871-1234 or email@example.com.
Investigators look into possible connection between Joe Kopp murder and Mihaljevic cold case
BAY VILLAGE, Ohio - It's one of northeast Ohio's most prominent unsolved murder cases, a case that remains active 22 years later.
Ten-year-old Amy Mihaljevic was kidnapped from the Bay Square Shopping Center in Bay Village in October 1989, four months later her body was found in Ashland County.
Now a new potential lead in the case; Bay Village police confirm they are exploring a possible connection between the Mihaljevic murder and Frank Dienes, a suspect in the murder of 58-year-old Joe Kopp of Seven Hills.
Police made it clear Dienes is not a suspect in the Mihaljevic case, but they are simply looking into a "possible connection."
Meanwhile, Dienes has already been charged in Kopp's murder. Police reported Kopp's body was found buried in the back yard of Dienes' Seven Hills home.
Dienes has already appeared in court and pleaded not guilty to aggravated murder, gross abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence.
Dienes is being held in jail on a half million dollars bond.