AMY MIHALJEVIC: 10-year-old kidnapped and murdered in Bay Village, OH - Oct 1989


Amy Renee Mihaljevic (December 11, 1978 – October 27, 1989) was a ten-year-old American elementary school student who was kidnapped and murdered in the U.S. state of Ohio in 1989. Her murder case received national attention. The story of her unsolved kidnapping and murder was presented by John Walsh on the television show America's Most Wanted during the program's early years. To date, her killer has not been found, yet the case remains active; new information in 2007 and 2013 has increased hopes of resolving the case.

Disappearance and murder
On October 27, 1989, Amy Mihaljevic was kidnapped from the Bay Square Shopping Center in Bay Village, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland.[1] The abductor had contacted Mihaljevic by telephone and arranged to meet her on the pretext of buying a gift for her mother because she had recently been promoted, as he told her.[2] On February 8, 1990, the girl's body was found in a field, close to the road, off County Road 1181, Ruggles Township in rural Ashland County, Ohio.[1][3]

Evidence found at the scene of the crime suggests that Mihaljevic's body was probably dumped there shortly after her abduction. Based on findings by the Cuyahoga County coroner, Mihaljevic's last meal was some sort of soy substance, possibly an artificial chicken product or Chinese food. Other evidence includes the presence of yellow/gold colored fibers on her body.[4] It appears her killer also took several souvenirs including the girl's horse-riding boots, her denim backpack, a binder with "Buick, Best in Class" written on the front clasp, and turquoise earrings in the shape of horse heads.[5] Blood believed to be that of Mihaljevic was found in her underwear, indicating she may have been raped or sexually abused.[4] Mitochondrial DNA from the crime scene was sampled, which may be used in the future to compare to suspects.[6][7]

The Bay Village Police and the FBI conducted an extensive investigation into her disappearance and murder. The case generated thousands of leads. Dozens of suspects were asked to take lie-detector tests, but no one has ever been charged with the crime. Law enforcement continues to pursue leads and monitor suspects to the present day. 20,000 interviews have taken place during the investigation.[6] This was described to be the biggest search in Ohio since the 1951 disappearance of Beverly Potts.[8]

In November 2006, it was revealed that several other young girls had received phone calls similar to the ones Mihaljevic received in the weeks prior to her abduction. The unknown male caller claimed that he worked with the girl’s mother and wanted help buying a present to celebrate her promotion. The girls who received these calls lived in North Olmsted, a suburb near Bay Village; some had unlisted phone numbers.[6] This new information was considered significant by investigators.[9] Mihaljevic and the others who received such calls had all visited the local Lake Erie Nature and Science Center, which had a visitors' logbook by the front door. The girls may have signed the book and added personal information including phone numbers and addresses.[6]

Bay Village police collected DNA samples from several potential suspects in the case in December 2006. As of early 2007, it was reported that a longtime suspect in the case had retained legal counsel.[9]

In late 2013, investigator Phil Torsney returned from retirement to work on the case, which he was originally assigned to after the murder.[10] Torsney is well known for aiding in the capture of Whitey Bulger, who was a long-time member of the FBI Top Ten Most Wanted.[11] Torsney stated that he believed that Mihaljevic was transported out of Bay Village after she was kidnapped, as the town is "too dense, too close-knit, to be a likely place to commit murder." However, he stated that the murder likely took place in Ashland County, which the murderer was probably familiar with.[6]

The FBI announced in March 2014 that a $25,000 reward is available to anyone who can provide information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the killer of Mihaljevic.[12] In October, it was increased to $27,000.[13]

In 2016, it was discovered that a blanket and curtain located near Mihaljevic's body had hairs on them similar to the Mihaljevic's dog. They were possibly used to conceal the victim's body before she was left in the field.[14]

In 2018, investigators were also following a potential link between Joseph Newton Chandler III and the murder of Mihaljevic.[15][16] In 2019, authorities stated that they have extensively investigated all suspects in the case and feel that if her killer would be identified, he would likely not be a part of their list.[7]



Staff member

Amy Should Be Forty: Listen to the 3News podcast about the Amy Mihaljevic murder case

Oct. 27 marked 30 years since 10-year-old Amy Mihaljevic vanished from a Bay Village shopping plaza.

Her disappearance ended in heartbreak and tragedy when her body was found months later in an Ashland County field. Feb. 8 marks the 30-year anniversary of her discovery.

Three decades later, her killer remains free and investigators are still searching for answers.

Listen to "Amy Should Be Forty" wherever podcasts are found. Click here to listen on Spotify and here to listen on Apple.


Staff member

30 years later, community searches for answers in Amy Mihaljevic murder case

Decades later, people who grew up in Bay Village and neighboring West side suburbs haven’t forgotten 10-year-old Amy Mihaljevic’s unsolved murder.

It has now been 30 years since Mihaljevic went missing from a Bay Village shopping center in broad daylight.

She was later found dead miles away in a field in Ashland County.

19 News spoke with local women now in their 40s and 50s with grown children of their own who can’t believe the case still hasn’t been solved.

Julie and Diane were in their 20s when Mihaljevic went missing in Bay Village in October of 1989.

These women hope to shine a light on any new evidence out there.

Amy Mihaljevic's father speaks to 3News about the day her body was found, 30 years later

Saturday marks 30 years to the day since a jogger discovered the body of Amy Mihaljevic in a field in Ashland County.

It was 50 miles from her home in Bay Village, the community where she was last seen alive. The 10-year-old had been stabbed, beaten and sexually assaulted. Her killer was never caught.

Amy’s story would become the subject of documentaries, be featured on talk shows, and eventually inspire a podcast from 3News called Amy Should Be Forty.

On Friday, Amy’s father Mark Mihaljevic weighed in on where he was 30 years ago.

"I can remember the day they had found Amy, and everybody had met at the house," he said. "The chief of police and one of the ministers and one of the FBI guys."

Though he was prepared to hear the worst, the news still took him by surprise.

"You’re never prepared for something like that," Mihaljevic said. "You really think you are…what can I say is you just don’t ever get prepared for that."

Over the years, investigators have put up billboards for tips.

A few years ago, they also shared images of a handmade curtain and blanket found within feet of Amy’s body. They hoped some might recognize it, but never got the tip they needed.

Yet the Mihaljevic family still remains hopeful that Amy’s killer will be found.

"Just hope I live long enough to see it concluded," Mark Mihaljevic said. "Because it’s going to happen."


This is an odd one. I wonder if they have re-examined some of the things nowadays with new DNA techniques etc.

I guess someone could have stood and read the guest book and wrote numbers down, or even took a picture with a camera of a page or two.

It does seem like it would be an employee at the place most likely, it could also be a cleaning crew or someone like that.

I wonder if they know of any other connections between these children, like a gs troop, a school would have such records, possibly a church where someone might obtain phone numbers, even a medical facility would have records of their patients and families as would perhaps an insurance agent, etc. Then there is the obvious one like someone in LE could probably obtain phone numbers. Since they haven't found anyone, maybe the nature center is not where the perp obtained the info from?

Another thing that strikes me odd is stating that he worked with the girl's mother. Did he use the same ploy with all he called? How did he know their mothers worked or even that they had a mother present in their lives?

So the girls that received these calls lived in a suburb called North Olmstead, based on that, it seems like maybe there could be more connection than the nature center. If all of these girls were from North Olmstead who were called, and all went to the nature center, I am guessing they went as a group? Which to me would make me think of a field trip or girl scouts perhaps, etc. in which case there is more connection, like a leader, a teacher and so forth, perhaps permission slips signed and phone numbers provided, and again most of these places probably have student and/or parent records with numbers.

One other thought is she was wearing riding boots and horse earrings. Someone then knew what she was dressed in when she left as these items were missing. Did she ask permission and tell someone as she was 10? I am not judging parents or anything, just trying to wrap my mind around what may have happened and by whom, it seems young to go off one one's own with permission to meet someone, however, it was a different day and age and I don't know the details. She lived in a suburb, were the properties large enough for horses or did she board a horse somewhere? Did the other girls? Where they perhaps a part of 4-H or an equine club? Had she been riding that day?

I think I read all here, does anyone know how she got to the mall and if she told anyone about the call and where she was going? She must have if they know about the call she got is what I am guessing. Did someone see them, they almost must have since they have a sketch of the suspected perp.

I am also curious as to where her mom DID work if she believed the promotion thing and that this "male" worked with her mother.

I am sure LE has long looked into all of these things, I am just speculating on thoughts that came to mind when reading it.

All just thoughts and jmo.


Staff member

The Amy Mihaljevic Case: Investigators hold out hope that DNA advancements could soon help solve 1989 cold case​

It is the longest active case in FBI history.

“Do I think the person is still alive? Yeah, I think the person is still alive,” says Mark Mihaljevic.

He spoke to us last year, on the 30th anniversary of Amy’s disappearance.

Now it’s been 31 years and his daughter’s killer remains free.

As the years pass by, Mark’s plea is that this case is not forgotten. He believes DNA advancements will eventually uncover Amy’s killer.

But he also believes someone out there right now has the keys to unlock this murder mystery.

'It’s too big of a secret for someone not to have told somebody. People don’t keep secrets like this without telling somebody," says Mark.

A homemade curtain found near Amy’s body could also provide clues.

There is DNA evidence from it, but police also hope someone will recognize it and perhaps lead them to a suspect.

DNA evidence was also recovered from Amy’s body.

Three hairs from someone other than Amy or her family were found and tested, but homing in on a suspect is tricky.

“There’s no mechanism right now to take what we have, put it into a database and kick out a suspect,” says former Bay Village Police Chief Mark Spaetzel.

But DNA technology is progressing quickly.

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