Family of 1988 cold case victim attends suspected killer's court appearance

An Indiana man accused of sexually assaulting and strangling 8-year-old April Tinsley to death 30 years ago appeared in court Thursday -- where he was met by April's family.

John Miller, 59, was arrested Sunday and is charged with murder and child molesting for the child's April 1988 death, the Allen County, Indiana, Prosecutor's Office said.

Miller, wearing an orange and white striped jumpsuit, appeared in court to answer the formal charges and was ordered held without bond, reported ABC affiliate WPTA.

April's family members, who waited 30 years for justice, were in the courtroom to watch, including April's mother, WPTA said.

Miller entered a plea of not guilty and was ordered held on no bond, the Allen County Prosecutor's Office told ABC News.

The case dates back to April 1, 1988, when April was reported missing. Her body was found in a ditch three days later, according to the probable cause affidavit

She died of asphyxiation with indications of sexual assault, according to the court document. DNA was recovered from her underwear.

After April's shocking death, no arrests were made.

In 1990, officers found writing on a local barn from the suspected killer, saying, "I kill 8 year old April M Tinsley did you find her other shoe haha I will kill agin [sic]," according to the court document.

Years passed, and in 2004, officers found notes from April's suspected killer and used condoms at three locations in the Fort Wayne area; the notes said the person who "left the condoms had raped and killed April," according to the court document.

DNA from the abandoned condoms was consistent with the DNA recovered from April's underwear, the probable cause affidavit said.

Police pursued genetic DNA testing this year in the decades-old cold case and, in July, the DNA was narrowed to two brothers, including Miller, the documents said.

Police conducted surveillance and collected trash, including three used condoms from Miller, according to the probable cause affidavit.

DNA from the condoms was consistent with the condoms recovered in 2004 as well as the DNA from the crime scene, the probable cause affidavit said.

Police went to Miller's home Sunday and he agreed to go to the Fort Wayne Police Department, where he was advised of his rights and agreed to talk to detectives, the documents said.

Miller allegedly admitted to abducting April, raping her and choking her to death, saying it took about 10 minutes for her to die, the probable cause affidavit said.

Miller's next pretrial hearing is set for Aug. 3.
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