Accused Tinsley killer John D. Miller pleads guilty

Local News

The man accused of abducting, molesting and killing 8-year-old April Marie Tinsley in 1988 in what was Allen County’s most notorious cold case has pleaded guilty.

John D. Miller has pleaded guilty to charges of murder and child molesting through a plea agreement with Allen County prosecutors. The surprise development came during a regularly scheduled change of venue hearing inside Allen Superior Court Friday.

It was 30 years ago when Tinsley was abducted from her south-central Fort Wayne neighborhood as she walked to a friend’s home to pick up an umbrella. The first grader’s body was found by a jogger three days later in a ditch along a road in southern DeKalb County. She had been sexually molested, suffocated and dead for at least two days.

The case went cold until mid-July, when police announced they’d made an arrest.

According to a probable cause affidavit, police found Miller after a DNA technology company that was working with Fort Wayne Police narrowed down a suspect to two brothers: Miller and another man. After that early July development, police began surveillance on Miller’s mobile home in Grabill and began to analyze his trash.

Police recovered three used condoms from Miller’s trash. The DNA pulled from those was used to tie Miller to Tinsley’s rape and death.

Miller was charged with murder and child molesting in the case. He was scheduled to stand trial in February.

Instead, he’ll be sentenced Dec. 31. Miller’s plea deal calls for him to serve 80 years – 50 years for murder and 30 years for child molesting.

A judge must still approve the deal.

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