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. 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. 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.
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. 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. Blood believed to be that of Mihaljevic was found in her underwear, indicating she may have been raped or sexually abused. Mitochondrial DNA from the crime scene was sampled, which may be used in the future to compare to suspects.
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. This was described to be the biggest search in Ohio since the 1951 disappearance of Beverly Potts.
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. This new information was considered significant by investigators. 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.
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.
In late 2013, investigator Phil Torsney returned from retirement to work on the case, which he was originally assigned to after the murder. 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. 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.
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. In October, it was increased to $27,000.
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.
In 2018, investigators were also following a potential link between Joseph Newton Chandler III and the murder of Mihaljevic. 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.