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Miller seeks different location for trial in Tinsley slaying

October 4, 2018

The Grabill man charged with sexually assaulting and killing an 8-year-old Fort Wayne girl in 1988 has asked a judge to consider moving his trial from Allen County.

John D. Miller, 59, is charged with murder and child molesting in the death of April Tinsley. He filed a motion Thursday in Allen Superior Court for change of venue.

Online court records did not state why Miller wants to move his trial. 

The now notorious case captured the attention of northeast Indiana residents for three decades as police worked to solve the girl’s murder. Details of the killing were aired on national news magazine programs, and April’s family held vigils for the girl near her home south of downtown. 

Miller was arrested July 15 after investigators used a genealogy database and DNA evidence to tie him to the crime. He allegedly confessed to forcing himself on the girl, killing her and dumping her body beside a rural road in DeKalb County 30 years ago. 

April disappeared on April 1, 1988, and her body was found in a ditch three days later. The case stumped investigators, who pored over evidence including DNA left at the crime scene. 

Police also examined messages and DNA samples left by someone claiming to be the girl’s killer in Fort Wayne and Grabill in 1990 and 2004.

Judges can move cases to other counties or select jurors from other counties in certain situations. 

Allen Superior Judge Fran Gull issued an order this week allowing jurors to be selected from Marion County for the April trial of Marcus Dansby, who is facing the death penalty for allegedly killing four people in 2016.

There is evidence of “inflammatory and sensational” pretrial publicity and “public hostility and outrage” surrounding the case, Gull’s order said 

Miller’s trial is scheduled to start in February, and he is expected to be in court Friday for a pretrial conference. 

mleblanc@jg.net

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