Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Bay Village Press Release Re:DNA

Here's the official response from Bay Village regarding last week's DNA test:

"The Bay Village Police Department continues to explore all investigative avenues to develop leads in the homicide of Amy Mihaljevic. New technology is available today that was not available 17 years ago when Amy Mihaljevic was abducted and murdered. Likewise, we do not know what technology might be available in the future that could prove beneficial. Therefore we continue to collect, preserve and analyze any and all potential evidence.

"The Bay Village Police Department, with the assistance of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, continues to work diligently on this case. Information received from the public will be vitally important to solving this homicide and we appreciate the efforts of those who have helped to publicize this case and those who have provided law enforcement with information."

Here's another new bit of info that leads me to believe this case has busted wide open once again: The Bay Village police department recently requested a summary of information contained in Amy's as-yet-released autopsy report. The request preceeded the DNA testing, so perhaps they found something interesting.

Those who have read the book know that I have tried unsuccessfully to obtain a copy of the autopsy report and coroner's investigative file. But Ashland County coroner William Emery has chosen to ignore Ohio's Sunshine laws, refusing to allow the media access to the file. The only thing I can do at this point is file a writ of mandamus to force Emery to do his job. So, if you know any lawyers looking for a great pro-bono case, have them contact me. In the meantime, I can take a little pleasure in the fact that Emery is an old man and I am very young. Which means I'll be around to write about his "legacy" long after he's gone. At least I get the last word, right?

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Bay Village collects DNA

According to 19 Action News reporter Shannon O'Brien (, Bay Village detectives collected a DNA sample from a person of interest in the Amy Mihaljevic case this past week.

An interesting development, for sure. But let's not get too excited. According to Mark Spaetzel, the reason for collecting DNA at this time may simply be to have it available to detectives when new technology is developed in the future that may make it possible to link this man--or others who have also given DNA in the past--to Amy's murder.
Does it mean Bay Village Police actually have the DNA of Amy's murderer to compare it to? Maybe.
Does it mean the case is hot again? Absolutely.
Whoever committed this crime is not resting well this holiday season.
-James Renner

Friday, November 10, 2006

Tips and Conversations

Well, Thursday night's signing at the Borders in Westlake--originally scheduled to last an hour--turned into two hours of new tips of conversations. Here's some interesting snippets of stories told to me by people who dropped by:

** Several readers asked me to investigate a local attorney, who resembles the composite sketch. Early in my research for this book, I was told that about a dozen suspects have been asked to take a lie detector test. They all complied. Everyone, that is, except a local attorney. I'm interested to know if it's the same person readers are concerned about.

** About a year ago, law enforcement officials became extremely interested in whether or not there was a visitor's registry at the Lake Erie Nature and Science Center in 1989--they wanted to know if Amy and the girls from North Olmsted could have signed it and left there address and home phone numbers. These officials, in April 2005, also inquired about North Olmsted soccer and baseball coaches. I have yet to find a link between the Science Center and coaches involved in North Olmsted youth sports, though it would appear a connection does exist.

** Here's an interesting rumor, told to me by a source who was interviewed by investigators. This person said that a piece of paper had been found which contained all the names of the North Olmsted girls (who, like Amy, were contacted by a man claiming to work with their mothers, prior to Amy's abduction in 1989).

** I've also learned of another suicide related to a "person of interest" in the Amy Mihaljevic case. This man lived in Oberlin at the time of the abduction and left for Arizona shortly after Amy's body was discovered. He committed suicide a short time later. Apparently, he had relatives in Sullivan, Ohio, close to where Amy's body was discovered by Janice Seabold.

Saturday, October 28, 2006


Spent the 17th anniversary of Amy's abduction in Bay Village, meeting with several people and following up on some phone calls while sitting inside Java Bay.

In the afternoon, I spoke to a young woman who may have been stalked by Amy's abductor when she, herself, was a young girl living in Aurora in 1987. For several days, a man called her house after school, when she was home alone. This man told her that her father had just received a promotion at work. The man wanted to take her out so that she could buy a surprise gift for her father. The girl didn't believe it, though, and told her mother about the phone calls.

A short time later, claims this woman, a man appeared at her back door when she was home alone. He said his truck had broken down and asked to use the phone. Again, the girl felt uneasy about this and refused to let him in. The man became angry and attempted to climb in through first-floor windows. When the girl told the man that she had called police, he ran back to his white pickup truck and drove away.
I find this woman to be very credible. For reasons I cannot go into at this time, she has never contacted police or FBI. She has not seen the book, yet, either. Her motivation for calling me was to share her story after hearing the interview on Lanigan & Malone earlier this week. I immediately passed this tip along to Spaetzel, who, I suspect, will be speaking to her soon.
This is an important lead. This woman saw the man who may have abducted Amy Mihaljevic. She has not yet seen the pictures contained in my book, and therefore could view a picture line-up of individuals for the Bay Village police department, and not be considered a "tainted witness". I am currently searching for any link between this woman's family and either a suspect in Amy's disappearance or the Mihaljevic family. She lived next door to horse stables.
I am still searching for a North Olmsted woman who received a similar call two months before Amy's abduction in 1989. Looks like this guy was perfecting his sales pitch before he got to Amy. The question is: were there calls placed to girls AFTER Amy's abduction? If not, why? Did he move onto the internet? Did he move away? Did he die? Did he end up in jail for some other offense? More questions. But it feels like we're getting closer to some answers at the same time.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


Amy: My Search for Her Killer, the book I wrote which details my two-year investigation into the unsolved murder of Amy Mihaljevic can now be found in bookstores in the Northeast Ohio area.

You can also order it online at or by visiting the publisher's website at

Here's a snippet from the official press release:

Anyone who lived in Northeast Ohio in 1989 remembers the name Amy Mihaljevic. And anyone living here today should be concerned that her killer may still be among us.

On October 27, 1989, ten-year-old Amy Mihaljevic was abducted from a public plaza directly across the street from the police department in Bay Village, Ohio. Four months later, her body was discovered lying face down in an Ashland County wheat field, fifty miles away. The case has become one of Northeast Ohio’s most frustrating unsolved murders.

Now a new book chronicles the crime, the official investigation, and the author’s own attempt to unravel the mystery.