Tuesday, August 20, 2019

The Porchlight Project Begins!

This last year, I’ve been working hard to put together a new non-profit that can provide financial help and media attention to the families of the missing and murdered, focusing on cold cases in Ohio. I’m excited to announce that The Porchlight Project is here and our first case is the 1987 unsolved murder of Barbara Blatnik.

The board members of The Porchlight Project include former police chiefs, private investigators, journalists, lawyers, and podcasters. We’ll be working together to bring closure to a handful of cases this year. Please visit our website and consider a donation today.

Monday, January 07, 2019

Former Student Claims He Was With Runkle at the Nature Center

I have heard from several former students of Dean Runkle in the past few days and have connected them with Bay Village Police. These are students who volunteered their time to help Runkle take care of his animals and they knew him very well.

The most stunning allegation came this morning, when I was contacted by a former student who helped Dean Runkle from 1982 - 1987. He claims he drove with Runkle to the Nature Center in Bay Village so that Runkle could donate mice to feed the snakes. One of the reasons police have discounted Runkle's involvement is because they can find no direct evidence of him being at the Nature Center, which is likely where Amy's killer got her phone number and the numbers of the girls from North Olmsted. One FBI agent went so far as to say, "If he was at that Nature Center, then he almost has to be our guy but he says he wasn't."

Other allegations include:

- he was seen at the back of a study hall classroom, massaging a young girl's neck. She appeared extremely uncomfortable.

- he gave a girl $100 to buy a new outfit.

- students say Runkle told them he would get in trouble if anyone knew they were in his car alone, or that he took them to his apartment, so he had one student wait by a side door he could pull up to, and then the student would run out to his car and hop in quickly.

- he often made very inappropriate sexual comments and jokes when he was alone with a student

- joked about keeping a woman tied up in the back room

Author's note:
This evidence is circumstantial but adds up to - at the very least - criminal behavior. Did Runkle have anything to do with Amy? I don't know. But I do know he crossed the line. A handful of students now claim inappropriate physical contact. The police have seen love letters to prepubescent kids. And I believe this student who says he was at the Nature Center with him. These are all reasons he has been investigated as a suspect in the case. Make of it what you will. Journalists and bloggers are not judge or jury. But we have a responsibility to give a voice to victims.

Thursday, January 03, 2019

Amy Book Now on Audible

Amy: My Search for Her Killer is now available as an audiobook for the first time. I recorded it in the fall for Tantor Media. Download it on Audible.

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

Former student claims inappropriate contact with Dean Runkle

A former student of Dean Runkle's has come forward claiming he touched her leg while alone in his car. This is the same student who later got a call on her answering machine where a man told her she'd end up "like Amy Mihaljevic."

Here are her words, posted on Facebook:

Dear Dean Runkle, i hate you for taking me for ice cream in your car and putting your right hand on my left are so disgusting, Dean Runkle. I remember you smiling and opening your glovebox for something. You were not like everyone else that calmed me when going thru Steele doors early~ you are not going to be okay~ not anywhere you go. Do you understand what you did to my life? I dont care if you were Amy’s actual murderer or not- there are too many similarities- why did you touch my leg?

WHO CALLED MY HOUSE, LEFT A MESSAGE ON OUR VOICEMAIL (mini tape recording), and said “you'll end up dead like Amy Mihaljevic” I need to know because i cannot move on.   

I am Jennifer Marie Karney. I sat just a couple of rows back in your class at Nord Junior High.  

Sunday, December 30, 2018

ID Discovery Documentary Airs Tonight!

At long last, ID Discovery airs the three-hour Amy Mihaljevic documentary tonight, beginning at 9 p.m. EST. I've seen an advance screener and I wanted to share my initial thoughts. There are some surprises here. Things even I didn't know about. It's very sad, of course, but it will also make you angry and there will be times when you are shocked to your core regarding developments, close calls, and some big missteps. Fox 8's Lorrie Taylor is a goddamn treasure. The ripple effects of this one murder are incalculable and it will ultimately be this guy's undoing. Also, there is a very odd sense of the otherworldly (some would say paranormal) around this case that the filmmaker develops in a couple scenes. This is unlike any unsolved mystery special you've seen. Check it out.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

"A.M. Was Murdered Here."

A couple weeks ago, I was contacted by a person who moved into a rental property in Wayne County, Ohio. While cleaning inside a closet, they discovered that years ago someone had carved a message into the wall. It reads, "A.M. Was Murdered Here."

Of course they assumed this meant Amy Mihaljevic - Wayne County is not far from Ashland. So, it suddenly became of great interest to authorities, and everyone was trying to figure out who lived there in 1989.

The house, itself, sits at a rural crossroads in Orrville and is owned by Stoll Farms. I drove down there last week (puppy in the passenger seat) and spoke to farmers with Stoll and other farms in the area who have roots going back 100 years. I was given the name of a man who they believed lived there with his wife and son in 1989. I managed to track him down to a farm in Kentucky. I spoke to his wife, at length, and learned a few things.

First, this seems like a real, decent family and nobody appears to have a criminal history. They have no idea who would have carved something like that in the closet and don't remember seeing it. But they recall that they were not actually there in the fall of 1989. They believe a farmhand employee of Stoll Farms was living there. The woman could not remember the name.

Finally, I visited the Stolls themselves. A Bay Village police officer had visited them and they were reluctant to say much, other than it appears nobody can 100% recall who it was who lived there.

Mike Lewis at Confidential Investigations, a private eye in Cleveland, ran a background check of the address itself. Nearly 40 different people have leased the house in the last 40 years. Perhaps the name of the person who carved the message is on there, but none of the names are familiar to me.

Monday, November 05, 2018

Vermilion Police Withhold Evidence in Amy Mihaljevic Case **UPDATED**

For the last 10 years, Vermilion Police and Chief Chris Hartung, have refused to release the name of the man who attempted to abduct 2 women in Vermilion in 1984. I believe these attempted abductions are related in some way to the Amy Mihaljevic case for a couple reasons. 1. The man was driving a car that matches the description of the vehicle Amy's body was kept in. 2. It's a similar crime. 3. The abductor mentions a suspect in the Amy Mihaljevic case by name - Dean Runkle.

Both Chief Hartung and Dean Runkle know the name of this individual and have never shared it. In fact, Vermilion police refuse to provide the name of the suspect to other members of law enforcement, including detectives and retired FBI.

There are enough clues in the reports, though, perhaps someone out there can figure out who this person is. Please share. Please take a long look. Ask you parents. Who is this person and what was their relationship to Dean Runkle?

Less than an hour and one of my readers seems to have already identified the man. I am trying to verify. When I do, I will share the name.
**UPDATE 2**
There's a name on here, Tresp. I always figured it was short for "trespassing." Turns out it was the last name of the suspect. Meet Jerry Tresp, who was arrested in 1985 for attempted rape and attempted murder. He appears to have been incarcerated in 1989, during Amy's abduction. He is now a free man. I hope to speak to him soon about Dean Runkle.

Thank you to my Irregulars who figured out in 15 minutes what I couldn't crack in 10 years.

A special thank you to Cindy Jahnsz for links to the articles!