ARMADA (WWJ) - A large crowd is expected to gather later this week to mourn the death of a 14-year-old girl whose body was found in the woods along a popular nature trail in Macomb County.
Visitation for April Millsap will be held Thursday at the Tiffany-Young and Hauss Funeral Home in Armada. A service is scheduled for Friday at St. Mary Mystical Rose Church, also in Armada.
April was reported missing by her mother last Thursday after she failed to return home from walking her dog, Penny, which she does nearly every night. Hours later, April's body was found in a drainage ditch along the Macomb Orchard Trail near Fulton and Depot roads.
Michigan State Police Lt. Mike Shaw said Penny, a Border Collie, stayed with April's body until catching the attention of passersby.
"Two joggers were going around the trail and a dog actually alerted that there was something amiss in the wood line," Shaw told WWJ's Mike Campbell. "When they went to investigate what it was, that's when they found the body."
April's death has been ruled a homicide, although authorities have released few details about the cause -- except to say she was not shot or stabbed.
According to reports, April apparently sent a text message to her boyfriend, indicating she thought she was about to be abducted. The message stated "Omg. Wtf. I think I'm being kidnapped," the Macomb Daily reported.
Police confirmed a message was sent from April's phone, but would not comment on the contents of the message.
Agents from the FBI have joined the search for April's killer. Investigators say the suspect is likely changing patterns in his or her daily lifestyle and might have altered his or her appearance in some way. The suspect might be demonstrating excessive interest in the case, authorities said, or may have unexpected absences from work.
Police released a sketch earlier this week of a person of interest who was seen on the trail where April had been walking her dog. He is described as a white male, average height, with sandy brown or reddish hair.
Police are still looking for a long gray box van that was seen in the area of the crime scene, described as a "painters' type van" with dents all over it. Police said they're not yet sure how or if the van is connected to the case — but they want to speak with two white males spotted in the vehicle.
Detectives are also searching for a young man who was seen riding a small cc motorcycle, blue and white in color, on the trail around the time April was killed. Witnesses told police the man was wearing a black helmet, but were unable to provide his physical description.
Anyone who might have information on the case is urged to contact police at 877-616-4677. Tips may also be submitted online at www.michigan.gov/michtip.
Anyone wishing to contribute to the family for funeral expenses may do so at any Fifth Third Bank. Checks may be made to "For the benefit of April Millsap."
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