Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Missing Reward video

Check out the segment on Amy's case which aired on Missing Reward in 1990.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Autopsy

Wonders never cease.

I have made nice with Karen Emery, wife of the Ashland County Coroner. I stopped by her office this week to view the complete report on Amy's autopsy and we had a very civil conversation. I'm not expecting a Christmas card, but I think her heart is in the right place. Both of us want to see this case solved. But we're coming at it from opposite ends of the spectrum. Media v. Official, if you will. No hard feelings, I hope.

I said before that I was going to wait until the anniversary of the abduction to talk about the details included in the report. But a couple things changed in the meantime. The first, was that Fox 8 reported on the autopsy in a very interesting news segment. But more important, is the fact that there is so much inaccurate information being bandied about on other blogs about what the report MIGHT contain. So, to clear up those inaccuracies and to get everyone else on the same page, here are the details I've discovered:

-Amy was not murdered in that field.
-Amy's body was most likely placed in that field on County Road 1181 a short time after she was abducted. A day? A week? We don't know. But there were seedlings growing out of her clothes, which implies the body was probably there most of the time we were looking for her. However, the jogger who discovered her body is adamant that it was not there the day before. Science says otherwise. But then why didn't the jogger or anyone else come across it? I don't know.
-The red spot on her underwear that was mentioned on the Fox 8 report was blood. Most likely Amy's.
-Contrary to statements by the retired FBI spokesman, Amy did not have spaghetti for lunch that day. The menu at school offered corn dogs and pizza. This slip-up was unintentional, I'm sure.
-The material in her stomach has never been completely identified. Looks like meat protein of some kind (not necessarily vegetarian) and cheese.
-Material that may contain the killer's DNA was collected at the scene.
-The report by Fox 8 that said no sperm was found referenced a 1989 report that used 1989 technology. Material was collected that may contain the killer's sperm. Using better technology, sperm may have been isolated already or will be in the future.
-Amy's fingernails were broken. Further analysis was handled by the FBI and is not available. It appears she may have injured her nails while fighting back against her attacker.
-Over the years, various law enforcement agencies have sent forensic material to the coroner so that it could be compared against the evidence gathered in this case, to exclude certain suspects.
-There were no satanic, religious, or cult markings found on her body.
-A covering of some sort was found near the body. It may have covered Amy's body (hiding it from the jogger, perhaps) and blown off before the body was found. I'm not going to go into detail about it, so please don't ask. It may be an important clue or it might not. But it is unique.
-I have no interest in publishing pictures other than those that show Amy alive and smiling and enjoying life. I sincerely hope journalists who gain access to the report in the future will do likewise. This report should be treated with the utmost care and respect.

That's basically it. Like I said, more questions than answers for the most part. But I think we can take hope in the fact that so much evidence was gathered from the scene.

I'm more confident than ever that this case will be solved. The killer made mistakes. And he should be very worried.
-James Renner

New Article on Amanda Berry/Gina DeJesus

16 year-old Amanda Berry disappeared from Cleveland's West Side on April 21, 2003. Gina DeJesus, 14, disappeared near the location where Amanda was last seen, almost a year later. Clevelanders have wondered ever since if the two unsolved cases are connected. I've just spent the last month researching their stories. The result is the cover article in this week's Free Times.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Fox 8 I-Team Report

Here's the link for those who missed the news last night.

Fox 8 I-Team reporter Bill Sheil does a great job summing up the status of the investigation at this point. Four girls who received phone calls like Amy did in the week's leading up to her abduction were interviewed. There are a couple things that seem to link them together, including people connected to Holly Hill horse stables and the fact that they all played in a traveling soccer league.

Sheil also revealed some information about the autopsy report, including the fact that Amy's fingernails appear to have been damaged in a struggle.

Bay Village police are still waiting for that last suspect to submit DNA like they promised. Anyone know who that might be?

Hopefully the segment provides some fresh clues for investigators.
-James Renner

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Packed House in New London

Over 100 people showed up for my reading in New London last Sunday. So many, in fact, that it had to be moved into the church next door to make room for everyone. Usually, these readings only last an hour, but I spent nearly two hours talking about the new developments in the case and answering questions from residents.

The most interesting tidbit of the day came from a young man whose friend's grandfather once worked for the Bay Village police department. Word is that this man's relatives owned property on County Road 1281, a mile east of where Amy was found. There were picnics out there in the 60's and 70's and people from Bay were invited to come down.

Ellen Simmons wrote about the reading for the Ashland Times-Gazette.

Check back soon for new information.
-James Renner

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Ashland Surrenders Autopsy Report

Two years.

That's how long Ashland County Coroner William Emery and Prosecutor Ramona Rogers stalled me on my requests to view the hidden details of Amy's crime scene and the autopsy report that followed. Thanks to involvement from Attorney General Marc Dann's office, I was finally given access to those files this morning.

The terms were these: No pens, no pencils, no recording devices. Eyes only. And I had to sit under the watchful eye of Emery's wife, Karen, who recently had the Ashland County bookstore remove a display of the book because it "offended" her. Needless to say, it was a high-pressure situation.

I wish I could unsee what I have seen. I wish I could remember her as the girl with the side-saddle ponytail.

I'm in a weird spot, now. On one hand, I'm a reporter who values open records and open government, who believes that this information should be shared with the public. On the other hand, I am also someone who has become a little obsessed with solving this case. And I don't want to do anything that would jeopardize the ongoing investigation. Especially at the moment, when Bay Village detectives seem to be hot on the killer's trail, once again.

I've decided to hold off on releasing details. I figure six months is a fair amount of time. Long enough for DNA results to come back. If the Bay Village detectives still have not solved this crime by then, I'll tell you what I found. If I was a betting man, though, I'd say they'll have it solved in half that time.

So, on October 27, 2007, on the 18th anniversary of the abduction, I'll release the information contained in those files here, first.

I have learned that I have been mislead by certain informants about the nature of this crime. At least one person intentionally lied to me. What their motivations were are beyond my comprehension. Quotes from individuals that appear in the book in reference to the crime scene should be weighed against the character of the person talking. Like any good mystery novel, there are characters who cannot be entirely trusted.

In the meantime, let me just say that there is reason to hope. I believe that now more than ever. They have the evidence necessary to solve this crime.

And it appears Kristy Sabo was right. Amy fought back.

As I expected, the reaction to my decision to not talk about the autopsy publicly until October is not exactly welcomed by all (see comments below). All I can say is that we've waited 17 years for these answers. Six more months isn't too much to ask. Let's give Bay Village a little more time. And on that subject, please don't assume anything that you know about the crime scene is fact. I've made that mistake myself. Debate, conjecture if you will. But don't state anything as fact. We have not been told the truth in the past. I promise, the truth is coming.
-James Renner

Friday, March 30, 2007

Renewed Interest

In the last couple weeks, I've been deluged by new, significant tips. So many, that I had to reorganize my entire stash of notes and documents this week to make the workload more manageable. Readers have submitted tips on a couple new suspects that are particularly interesting. As always, I've passed along the most promising tips to Bay Village police. As soon as I find a way to talk about these stories without compromising the identities of the new uncharged suspects, I will.

In the meantime, I am researching a new angle. You see, Amy was not the only young girl whose body turned up in the vicinity of Ashland County in the 80's. She was actually the fourth. I'm investigating a possible connection to these girls at the moment and sometime in April, I'll publish a five-part story over the course of an entire week devoted to these other girls. It's the story of a man named Robert Buell, his roommate Ralph Ross Jr., and a new series of abductions currently taking place in southern Ohio.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Ashland Frights

This is why I don't sleep at night.

An anonymous source passed along a packet of pictures to me yesterday of the interior and exterior of an abandoned house that once sat back in the woods on TR 500, near the site where Amy's body was discovered. These pics were taken a couple weeks after Amy was found. By that time, the FBI had already dusted for prints and extracted sections of the walls and floor for forensic testing.

He told me this is where Amy was murdered. And, at first glance, I believed him. But, this is not true. The blood is NOT Amy's. It may actually have been left behind by hunters who gutted a deer in the house, according to law enforcement officials.

Because of the location of the abandoned house, however, I am interested in any further info people may have about this place. Who owned it? Who cleaned deer there, etc.
-James Renner

Thursday, February 08, 2007

17 Years Ago, Today

17 years ago, the body of Amy Mihaljevic was discovered by a jogger named Janet Seabold in a wheat field on County Road 1181 in Ashland County, around 7:30AM. Her killer still remains at large.

What's interesting is Amy's body was most likely dumped there the night before, although she had been dead for some time. It appears she was killed a couple days after her abduction on October 27, 1989, but her body was kept somewhere relatively cool, but away from the elements. Like a fishing cabin or a hunting lodge. So, why did her killer move the body?

Is there something that happens every year at this time that would cause this person to get more attention? Or maybe this week is when the cabin starts to get used by other people again. I don't know. I'm sure there was a reason in this person's mind for moving her body today. Any thoughts?

Also, The Ashland Times-Gazette has a great article about the case--and the book--on the front page of their paper today. It's written by Irv Oslin, who is quite a character himself. You can read it here:

The Ashland County coroner and prosecutor take a couple below-the-belt shots at me. Sounds like they're scared of that mandamus writ coming down the pike.

Check back soon. I've been contacted by another girl who may have received a call from Amy's abductor a few weeks before Amy's abduction. She has some interesting things to say which I'd like to share with you.

-James Renner

Thursday, January 11, 2007

A Short Friday

One thing I keep coming back to is the time of Amy's abduction: around 2:45 PM on a Friday afternoon. What sort of grown man is out of work at that time? Maybe Amy's abductor didn't have a steady job (painting, perhaps...or freelance work of some kind). But if he did, he would have to have had a job where he was done by 2:30PM or else a job where he wouldn't be missed. A job that keeps him close to kids. A mailman, perhaps. Or maybe, just maybe, a school crossing guard.

I've always liked this photo, from a Sun News article that ran in 1989. I've often wondered if the photograher framed his photo to include the mug shot.

More on this, soon, I think.
-James Renner