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Sharing her heart: Janet Tinsley talks about dizzying changes in daughter’s murder case

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Fort Wayne’s NBC) — After 30 years of waiting, the mother of April Tinsley talks about the shocking developments in the case of her murdered daughter.

She’s finding a “new normal”, three days after police put handcuffs on a Grabill man, who is now charged in the case that went unsolved for decades.

Tinsley met with reporters Wednesday.

Wearing a special T-shirt, Janet Tinsley at 1 pm came to April’s Garden, dedicated in her daughter’s honor, to answer questions.

What came over her when she learned of the arrest?

“It was like you got that chill feel that goes from the top of your head down to your toes,” she said with a smile.

Sunday, based on DNA evidence and open genealogical records linking him to the crime, authorities confronted 59-year old John D. Miller of Grabill, and they say he confessed to kidnapping, raping and suffocating the little girl back in 1988 before discarding the body in a ditch.

Mrs. Tinsley says she often visits April’s grave, and looks around to see who’s watching before she starts to talk to her daughter.

She looks forward to coming to April’s Garden alone, sitting down on a bench, for some quiet time with April.

“I’ll sit here for an hour or two, and I tell her, you know, this is her day,” Janet Tinsley said.

We pressed her, does she want the death penalty?

She hesitated.

“I’m not sure what he should get, but I’m sure he’ll get what he deserves,” she told reporters.

While Janet was speaking to reporters, there were other people who live nearby who stood around listening, and later shared their thoughts.

Sally Berger, who has empathy for Janet Tinsley, preferred to talk about the accused murderer.

“He has got to meet his justice when he goes, he’s got to meet his ruler, he ain’t going to get through the gates the way he is,” she said.

“It could have been anybody’s child, but why April,” said Tina Zimmerman, whose daughter walked home with April the day she came up missing.

When she heard about the arrest of John Miller…

“I said, praise the Lord, praise the Lord, it really, it really helped,” Zimmerman said, while fighting back tears.

And this from a tired, but relieved mom.

“Once this is all said and done, yeah, everybody needs to rally around somebody else,” Tinsley said, before she walked to a vehicle to leave, following the sit-down with reporters.

Janet Tinsley will tell you the support from the public has been overwhelming.

You can tell she is grateful, but is  also ready to take back some control of her life.


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