Saturday, February 09, 2019

The DNA and What It means

At long last, we have been given details about the DNA evidence detectives have gathered in the Amy Mihaljevic case. Here's what you should know.

- Three hairs were found on or near Amy's body when it was recovered in February 1990. One on her body. One on her sweatpants. One on her underwear.
- Each hair is from a different person. This could mean these hairs were transferred to Amy's body from the car she was taken in or from the crime scene (the house of the suspect) she was taken to. For instance, these hairs could be from a relative or friend of the suspect that wound up in their car and then on Amy's body, the way a hair from Amy's dog ended up on the curtain used to wrap her body. Or... it could mean that more than one person was involved in the crime. That perhaps we are dealing with a small group of men who participated in the abduction and assault of Amy.
- The DNA they have recovered so far is degraded, offering only small snippets of a genetic profile. Think of a DNA profile as being 1,000-rung ladder. What they have right now is a snapshot of four or five rungs. Not enough to connect to a specific person (yet) but enough to rule people out.
- They still have the hairs and are waiting for technology to develop where they feel comfortable resubmitting the hairs for further testing. Another test would destroy their sample so it has to be good. They get one more chance.

One thing that means a lot to forensic genealogists are haplogroups. These are groups of people who share a common ancestor. When people look for relatives online, they use these haplogroups to figure out who they are related to.

The haplogroups of the three hairs are:

1.  Hair from body - H2a2a
2.  Hair from sweatpants - H1cf
3.  Hair from panties - H1a1
These are all from white Europeans. 


Now, hair #2 is unusual and may actually help police narrow down their list of suspects further. Because that haplogroup - H1cf - is seen in populations who also have a higher risk of developing schizophrenia or major depressive disorders. That sounds like our guy, maybe.

So how about it, armchair genealogists? Is there more to derive from this limited information at this point?

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.