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The Amy Mihaljevic Case: Investigators hold out hope that DNA advancements could soon help solve 1989 cold case

Updated: Oct. 27, 2020 at 4:53 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Thirty-one years ago, Mark Mihaljevic was just getting home from a business trip and learning that his 10-year-old daughter, Amy, hadn’t come home from school.

Amy had been kidnapped. Her body was found four months later.

And to this day, her killer remains free.

It is the longest active case in FBI history.

“Do I think the person is still alive? Yeah, I think the person is still alive,” says Mark Mihaljevic.

He spoke to us last year, on the 30th anniversary of Amy’s disappearance.

Now it’s been 31 years and his daughter’s killer remains free.

Dozens gather in Bay Village to remember Amy Mihaljevic, who was kidnapped 31 year ago; her body was found months later in Ashland County

Posted by Cleveland 19 News on Tuesday, October 27, 2020

As the years pass by, Mark’s plea is that this case is not forgotten. He believes DNA advancements will eventually uncover Amy’s killer.

But he also believes someone out there right now has the keys to unlock this murder mystery.

'It’s too big of a secret for someone not to have told somebody. People don’t keep secrets like this without telling somebody," says Mark.

Ten-year-old Amy was kidnapped from the Bay Village Square shopping plaza on Oct. 27, 1989.

Her body would be found 100 days later, 50 miles away, in a field in rural Ashland County. She had been stabbed to death.

The case has baffled investigators and haunted the community for decades.

Amy Mihaljevic
Amy Mihaljevic((Source: WOIO))

Police say Amy was lured to the plaza by a man who had called her at home, asking to take her shopping to buy a gift for her mom, for a work promotion.

They arranged to meet after school on that late October day. Two eyewitnesses helped police come up with sketches of the suspect.

Amy was found dressed in the same clothes as the day she disappeared.

But certain items were missing: Black ankle boots, a black leather binder, turquoise horsehead earrings.

Investigators think Amy’s killer may still have those items.

A homemade curtain found near Amy’s body could also provide clues.

There is DNA evidence from it, but police also hope someone will recognize it and perhaps lead them to a suspect.

DNA evidence was also recovered from Amy’s body.

Three hairs from someone other than Amy or her family were found and tested, but homing in on a suspect is tricky.

“There’s no mechanism right now to take what we have, put it into a database and kick out a suspect,” says former Bay Village Police Chief Mark Spaetzel.

But DNA technology is progressing quickly.

Chief Spaetzel retired in June.

New Chief Kathy Leasure says the department is now consulting with big DNA labs in California and other parts of the country.

“We’re now trying to look into the labs to see if there’s anything. The technology has moved far enough ahead that we would be able to submit what we have to help with our case,” says Chief Leasure, adding , “We’re hopeful that we have something in our evidence that will lead us to a suspect.”

Meantime, Mark Mihaljevic continues to wait for that moment when he gets the call that his daughter’s killer has been found an arrested.

“A lot of tears of sadness and joy at that moment, I tell you that. It’ll be easier when it’s solved.”

There is a $50,000 reward for anyone who can help bring Amy’s killer to justice.

Call Bay Village Police or the FBI at 1-800-CALLFBI.

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