‘I wish it never happened’ – Defense attorneys representing Tinsley killer say he is remorseful

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Fort Wayne’s NBC) – “I wish it never happened.”

John D. Miller, 59, of Grabill, was convicted of murder and child molesting charges in the rape and slaying of 8-year-old April Tinsley in 1988.

The words of John D. Miller were read aloud in an Allen County courtroom as one of Fort Wayne’s most notorious cold cases was laid to rest.

In court on Friday, admitted killer John D. Miller was sentenced to 80 years in prison for the rape and murder of 8-year-old April Tinsley back in 1988.

From the moment he was arrested this summer, his defense attorneys say Miller knew why they were knocking on his trailer home’s door.

“John has always been very remorseful. He’s not a complicated man. He has expressed a number of times that he wishes it never happened,”  Miller’s defense attorney Anthony Churchward said moments after court let out.

Miller did not read his final statement at his sentencing hearing, and instead opted to have one of his attorney’s read it for him.

Churchward says Miller has issues getting his points across and doesn’t enunciate well.

April’s family, including her mother Janet Tinsley, read statements about how Miller destroyed their lives.

One lingering question that hasn’t been answered so far is why he did it.

The attorneys who represented Miller say they never got into why he did what he did.

Miller did not answer the question as he was wheelchaired to the courtroom Friday morning.

Miller received 50 years for murder and 30 years for child molesting.

He’ll serve both counts consecutively.

Miller admitted to kidnapping April Tinsley, taking her to his mobile home in Grabill where he said he sexually assaulted her, and then suffocated her before dumping her body in a DeKalb County ditch.

Over the years, April’s killer appeared to taunt authorities, scrawling on a barn in 1990 that he killed her, and would kill again.

In 2004, police believe he put threatening notes on girls’ bicycles along with other clues that contained his DNA.

DNA evidence linked to an open genealogy database narrowed the suspect search to John D. Miller of Grabill.

Watch our full interview above with Miller’s defense attorneys Anthony Churchward and Mark Thoma.

Click here to see our team coverage of The April Tinsley Tragedy.

Kayla Crandall

Kayla Crandall

Kayla Crandall is the Social Media and Digital Content Manager at Fort Wayne's NBC. She also serves as the weekend producer on NBC.

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