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Thread: Homemade curtain, blanket could help crack Amy Mihaljevic case, Ohio

  1. #1

    ice Homemade curtain, blanket could help crack Amy Mihaljevic case, Ohio

    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


    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.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Homemade curtain, blanket could help crack Amy Mihaljevic case, Ohio

    Murder of Amy Mihaljevic


    Amy Renee Mihaljevic (December 11, 1978 – October 27, 1989) was a ten-year-old American elementary school student who was kidnapped and murdered in the U.S. state of Ohio in 1989. Her murder case raised national attention. The story of her unsolved kidnapping and murder was one of the first cases presented by John Walsh on the television show, America's Most Wanted during its first year. To date, her killer has not been found, yet the case remains active; new information in 2007 and 2013 has increased hopes of resolving the case.

    On October 27, 1989, Amy Mihaljevic was kidnapped from the Bay Square Shopping Center in Bay Village, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland.[1] The abductor had contacted Mihaljevic by telephone and arranged to meet her on the pretext of buying a gift for her mother because she had recently been promoted, as he told her.[2] On February 8, 1990, the girl's body was found in a field, close to the road, off County Road 1181, Ruggles Township in rural Ashland County, Ohio.[1][3]

    Evidence found at the scene of the crime suggests that Mihaljevic's body was probably dumped there shortly after her abduction. Based on findings by the Cuyahoga County coroner, Mihaljevic's last meal was some sort of soy substance, possibly an artificial chicken product or Chinese food. Other evidence includes the presence of yellow/gold colored fibers on her body. It appears her killer also took several souvenirs including the girl's horse-riding boots, her denim backpack, a binder with "Buick, Best in Class" written on the front clasp, and turquoise earrings in the shape of horse heads. Blood believed to be that of Mihaljevic was found in her underwear, indicating she may have been raped or sexually abused. Mitochondrial DNA from the crime scene was sampled, which may be used in the future to compare to suspects.

    The Bay Village Police and the FBI conducted an extensive investigation into her disappearance and murder. The case generated thousands of leads. Dozens of suspects were asked to take lie-detector tests, but no one has ever been charged with the crime. Law enforcement continues to pursue leads and monitor suspects to the present day. 20,000 interviews have taken place during the investigation.[6] This was described to be the biggest search in Ohio since the disappearance of Beverly Potts.[7]

    In 2005, Cleveland journalist James Renner re-examined this cold case with a series of articles in the weekly newspaper Cleveland Scene. Renner's 2005 series provided new research that he had independently undertaken, as well as openly soliciting the public for new information and clues. In October 2006, publisher Gray & Co. released a book about Renner's investigation into the murder called Amy: My Search for Her Killer. The book provided information previously unreleased by the police and FBI. In 2007, Renner donated his files, consisting of the largest private collection of material on the Mihaljevic case, to the Department of Special Collections and Archives at Kent State University, Ohio.[8]

    In November 2006, it was revealed that several other young girls had received phone calls similar to that to which Mihaljevic responded, during the weeks prior to her abduction in 1989. These comprised requests from an unknown man, claiming to work with their mother, asking the girl to help him shop for a present to celebrate her mother's job promotion. The girls who received these calls lived in North Olmsted, a suburb near Bay Village; some had unlisted phone numbers.[6] This new information was considered significant by new movement on the case.[9][10] Mihaljevic and the others who received such calls had all visited the local Lake Erie Nature and Science Center, which had a visitors' logbook by the front door that the girls may have signed, possibly adding other personal information such as addresses.[6]

    Bay Village police collected DNA samples from several potential suspects in the case in December 2006. As of early 2007, it was reported that a longtime suspect in the case had retained legal counsel.[10]

    The FBI announced in March 2014 that a $25,000 reward is available to anyone who can provide information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the killer of Mihaljevic.[11]

    In late 2013, investigator Phil Torsney returned from retirement to work on the case, which he had originally been assigned to after she was murdered.[12] Torsney is well known for aiding in the capture of Whitey Bulger, who was a long-time member of the FBI Top Ten Most Wanted.[13] Torsney stated that he believes that Mihaljevic was transported out of Bay Village after she was kidnapped, as the town is "too dense, too close-knit, to be a likely place to commit murder." However, he stated that the murder likely took place in Ashland County, which the murderer was probably familiar with.

    According to reporter James Renner, Dean Runkle is a possible prime suspect in the FBI investigation. Multiple witnesses say that he matches the man they saw with Mihaljevic on the day she vanished. Runkle also may have volunteered at the Lake Erie Nature and Science Center in Bay Village at the time of the murder. All four girls who received suspicious phone calls (with Mihaljevic being the last one) had visited it in the weeks before the abduction, and may have written their names and other personal information in the Center's visitor logbook. Runkle denied remembering this to police, but at least eight former students and teacher's aides reported that Runkle had spoken of being present at the center.[14][15] Although Renner describes Runkle as an eccentric teacher, no hard evidence supports this view. Runkle himself denies any involvement in the murder of Mihaljevic and the FBI has never officially declared him a suspect. Since Runkle is exceptionally well liked as a teacher by many former students, Renner became the subject of strong criticism, unlike anything he had faced from naming previous suspects, when he named Runkle.[2]

    In response to her daughter's death, Mihaljevic's mother, Margaret McNulty, co-founded a foundation to protect children from such situations that happened to Amy. However, McNulty had suffered from lupus after the death of Amy, resulting in her death at age 54 in 2001

  3. #3

    Default Re: Homemade curtain, blanket could help crack Amy Mihaljevic case, Ohio

    I hope his mother recognizes the curtain, or his wife, as a second option. There is no way a man taking a young girl took a bed spread and made this curtain himself.

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