Man accused in April Tinsley murder case wants outside jury to render verdict at trial

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Fort Wayne’s NBC) – The man who police say is responsible for one of Fort Wayne’s most infamous cold case murders wants his fate placed in the hands of jurors from outside Allen County.

John D. Miller, 59, was arrested on Sunday, July 15, in connection to the kidnapping, rape and murder of 8-year-old April Tinsley in 1988.

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

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

According to online court records, he filed for a change of venue. His team will have until Nov. 21 to present the court with evidence that warrants this request.

The judge will consider the defense’s request on Dec. 7.

His trial is set for Feb. 11, 2019.

DNA evidence linked to an open genealogy database narrowed the suspect search to 59-year-old John D. Miller of Grabill.

“The abduction and death of 8-year old April Tinsley, that finally culminated in an arrest on Sunday, has haunted this community for over 30 years,” said Allen County Prosecutor Karen Richards.

She shoulders the burden of trying to win a conviction in this case against 59-year old John Dale Miller of Grabill, who was arrested after police say he confessed to kidnapping, raping and murdering the girl inside his trailer home in 1988.

DNA evidence was key in helping police focus on Miller.

Miller’s attorneys, Anthony Churchward and Mark Thoma, wrote in their change of venue motion that they don’t believe he can get a fair trial with a jury pulled from Allen County because of “Public hostility against him, public outrage over the offenses alleged, and speculative opinions as to his guilt and character.”

Criminal lawyer Michelle Kraus, who recently secured a change of venue for death penalty defendant Marcus Dansby in a different Allen County murder, says even if media outlets get the facts straight in covering a big case, potential jurors could be tainted by reckless claims from the public posted on social media sites.

“We have to look beyond just what you guys are reporting to see what people are saying about what you’re reporting,” Kraus said.

Sergeant Dan Camp, a retired Fort Wayne detective, worked the April Tinsley case tirelessly for years, keeping her picture in his wallet until the day he retired.

Camp told Fort Wayne’s NBC he knew a suspect would eventually be caught even though it didn’t happen on his watch.

“They gave us the profile of the person that probably killed April. Matches him to a T. 29, white, single? Yeah, the whole nine yards. They hit it right on the head to what John Miller looks like and his characteristics today,” Camp says.

See a full timeline of the case here:

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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