Cold-case murder of 8-year-old Indiana girl in 1988 cracked using genealogy sites

Cold case solved using genetics

FORT WAYNE, Ind. -- April Tinsley disappeared on a spring day in 1988 while walking to a neighbor's house. The 8-year-old's body was discovered in a ditch three days later. She had been raped and strangled.

Now, authorities say they've finally solved the case.

"This case has haunted this community for 30 years," said prosecutor Karen Richards. "I believe we have given us some closure."

April Tinsley WANE

Police Chief Steve Reed said the family has waited 30 years for answers, which came from genetic genealogist Cece Moore.

"We had enough to work with that I was able to narrow it down to two full brothers," Moore said.

Investigators arrested 59-year-old John Miller after matching his DNA from the crime scene and from taunting notes he wrote to local residents threatening to kill again to genetic information posted by his relatives on genealogy websites.

Investigators confirmed the DNA match with evidence gathered from Miller's trash. When he was arrested at his home Sunday, Miller reportedly confessed.

This is the sixth cold case Moore and her team have helped investigators crack, including the notorious Golden State Killer. Since May, Parabon NanoLabs, where Moore works, has uploaded more than 140 crime scene DNA samples to GEDmatch, getting hits for more than half.