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Tinsley murder suspect answers feebly in first court appearance

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Fort Wayne’s NBC) — The Grabill man who is being charged in the rape and murder of 8-year-old April Tinsley in 1988 has made his first court appearance.

59-year-old John D. Miller appeared in court Monday, July 16, to hear the preliminary charges against him.

READ MORE: Grabill man charged with the cold-case murder of April Tinsley

Fort Wayne’s NBC previously reported that Miller, of Grabill, is facing preliminary charges of murder, child molesting and confinement in connection to the rape and murder of 8-year-old April Tinsley in April 1988.

In 2016, the Fort Wayne Police Department released new computer-aided renderings from Parabon of what 8-year-old April Tinsley’s killer may have looked like.

On July 6, a covert trash pull was conducted at Miller’s home in a trailer lot in Grabill, Indiana, finding a match in DNA. Miller was then arrested after admitting the crime to police on July 15.

READ FULL TEAM COVERAGE HERE:  April Tinsley Team Coverage

During the hearing at the Charles “Bud” Meeks Criminal Justice Center, he told a judge that he understood the allegations against him. He was then returned to a cell at the Allen County Jail to await the filing of formal charges.

Miller was only in court for a few moments, and his voice wavered as he spoke to the judge. No cameras were allowed in the courtroom during his appearance.

Present in the court room Monday was April Tinsley’s aunt, who wept during proceedings, which took place about 24 hours after Fort Wayne police detectives took Miller into custody following the development of new evidence linking him to the crime.

Outside the building, a woman who wished to be identified only as “Kim” held a sign reading, “He got caught… April Marie Tinsley gets justice.”

Kim said that she and April were friends who would play together in their neighborhood more than 30 years ago, and that she was playing with April on the same day she vanished.

“It’s just been played over and over in my head for 30 years,” she said. “When you think of something like that and you see her picture periodically, you just think, ‘did i see him? was he watching us play?'”

Kim said she wanted the family to see her sign and know that their young girl will never be forgotten.

Miller’s court date will likely take place later this week.

APRIL TINSLEY COVERAGE: Suspect in Tinsley case matches description shared by police in 2009Grabill man charged with the cold-case murder of April TinsleyApril Tinsley Tragedy: DNA leads to arrestSuspect photo in Tinsley case released; some similarities with 2016 computer imageGrabill community, where arrested suspect lives, reacts to the April Tinsley case30 years since the killing, rape of April Tinsley 

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