Memorial for April Tinsley held day before killer’s sentencing

Local News

Family and friends gathered at the Allen County Courthouse on Thursday to remember April Tinsley one day before her killer is sentenced.

John Miller pleaded guilty to killing 8-year-old April as part of a plea deal, where he would serve 80 years in prison: 50 years for the murder charge and 30 years for child molesting. 

Miller was charged with murder and child molesting in the case and was scheduled to stand trial in February. Instead, he’ll be sentenced Friday. A judge must still approve the plea deal.

According to a friend at Thursday’s memorial, a plea deal is not what the Tinsley family was hoping for. 

“This family deserved their day in court. They deserve to understand how it all happen they have a lot of questions that haven’t been answered without going to trial.” said family friend Stacey Davis.

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.

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