Genealogy Database Helps to Solve 30-Year-Old Child Murder Cold Case


59-year-old John Miller was arrested on Sunday for the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl on Good Friday thirty years ago.

Asked if he “had any idea why the police wanted to talk to him,” Miller simply answered “April Tinsley.” What followed was a repulsive confession, detailing the events of April 1, 1988. Miller abducted Tinsley, sexually assaulted her inside his trailer, and choked her to death—noting that it took ten minutes for her to die. He kept her body for a day before disposing of it.

In 2004, investigators had a short-lived breakthrough: The unidentified killer began leaving handwritten notes, photographs of his body, and used condoms in various locations. One of the notes, released by the FBI, read, “Hi honey. I been watching you. I am the same person that kidnapped, raped and killed April Tinsely(sic). You are my next victim.”

But after those repulsive, taunting messages, the case once again went cold. It was not until recently that the identity of the killer was discovered via matches in a genealogy database. Miller is being held in the Allen County Jail in Fort Wayne, Indiana, on preliminary charges of murder, child molesting, and confinement.

This is the second time this year that genealogy information has led to a major arrest; Joseph DeAngelo, the alleged “Golden State Killer,” was arrested after being matched to 13 murders through a similar genealogy database.


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