Northeast Ohio author, community search for answers in unsolved Amy Mihaljevic murder case 30 years later

The 10-year-old girl went missing in a Bay Village shopping center in broad daylight.

Who killed Amy? The community gathers to search for her killer (part 5)

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - It has now been 30 years since 10-year-old Amy Mihaljevic went missing from a Bay Village shopping center.

She was later found dead about 50 miles away in a field in Ashland County.

Despite numerous interviews with possible suspects over the years, the case has still not been solved.

19 News shed light on this case all week with an in-depth look at Mihaljevic’s story.

You can watch anchor Nichole Vrsansky’s four-part series here.

In this story, we’re focusing on the community’s connection to the Mihaljevic case, which has haunted locals since the day she went missing.

19 News spoke with local women, now in their 40s and 50s with grown children of their own, who can’t believe it still hasn’t been solved.

These women hope to shine a light on any new evidence out there.

Julie and Diane were in their 20s when Mihaljevic went missing in Bay Village in October of 1989.

“I remember it being on the 6:00 news and it was really shocking because it was so close to home,” Julie said.

“It's so very sad. Everything about this case is so sad,” Diane said.

They went to the same shopping centers and walked the same streets as Mihaljevic, growing up in Cleveland’s West side suburbs.

“We thought we lived in a really safe community, and everyone was really on guard after that. Because it could happen in broad daylight in front of everyone walking around,” Julie said.

Decades later, they haven't forgotten her unsolved murder.

“It's just unbelievable that they haven't been able to find anybody, the person that did this,” Julie said.

Author James Renner speaks to a book club about the unsolved murder of 10-year-old Amy Mihaljevic.
Author James Renner speaks to a book club about the unsolved murder of 10-year-old Amy Mihaljevic. (Source: WOIO)

Julie wanted to know more, so her book club called The Literary Ladies read “Amy: My Search for Her Killer” by local investigative journalist and author James Renner.

Then they invited him to speak at their book club.

“Our fun group of ladies was like, we can help solve this crime, which is high hopes,” Julie said.

They discussed every theory and every update on the case with Renner over wine and cheese at Avon Oaks Country Club recently.

“I thought, well after all that time, surely police have to know who did this, they just don’t have enough evidence to bring him in,” Renner said.

Renner spent a lot of time with his mother on the weekends in Rocky River when Amy disappeared.

“I remember riding around in my little Huffy two-speed and seeing these pictures of this girl my age,” he said.

He was in sixth grade.

“And it was that moment in my life I realized we live in a dangerous world,” Renner said.

“I became obsessed with trying to find her, trying to solve the case, even at age 11,” he said.

Local author James Renner wrote the book Amy: My Search for Her Killer.
Local author James Renner wrote the book Amy: My Search for Her Killer. (Source: WOIO)

Thirty years later, the clock is ticking.

Mihaljevic’s killer is getting older.

“Amy and I were both born in 1978. She'd be turning 41 this year. I've got gray hair now, and we still don't have her killer. Time's running out,” Renner said.

Renner has explored several theories over the years and conducted his own investigations.

He even tracked down and spoke to men he calls possible suspects.

“Maybe what we’re dealing with here is someone that hasn’t killed again and didn’t kill before. Didn’t intend to kill her when he took her, but things got out of control,” Renner said.

“You know we're looking for a man who has had trouble in the past, but maybe not necessarily a serial killer,” he said.

Renner thinks it’s possible there is more than one suspect behind Mihaljevic’s death.

Reading the book was an eye-opening look at some suspicious people in their own backyard that Julie and Diane never knew about.

“Just the people that were surrounding us and all the strange characters that were involved, we really didn't know,” Diane said.

They hope fresh eyes and more interest in the case three decades late will bring in that one tip, they need to solve the case.

“Maybe someone has just been sitting there all this time for 30 years, with this hunch. Maybe it was that guy, or maybe it was my uncle or this cousin. Those are the kind of tips they should come forward with,” Renner said.

“If there's any way at all it could shed a light on it, that has to be a good thing,” Diane said.

If you have any information on what happened to Amy, you can call Bay Village police.

There is a $50,000 reward for any tips that lead to a conviction of a suspect in this case.

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