Curtain, blanket could be key to solving 1989 Amy Mihaljevic murder

Published: Jun. 23, 2016 at 1:33 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 23, 2016 at 8:11 PM EDT
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Source: WOIO
Source: WOIO

BAY VILLAGE, OH (WOIO) - "This lead will solve the case."  A statement like that from County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty in a 27-year-old case gets your attention.

McGinty is talking about a curtain and blanket.

Amy Mihaljevic was 10-years-old when she disappeared from a Bay Village shopping center after walking from school at about 2 p.m. Oct. 27, 1989.

Now Bay Village police say they have new information on the murder of the Bay Middle School student. "This lead will solve the case -- if you connect this person to this location," Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty said.

Police Chief Mark A. Spaetzel said this has never been a cold case to them. Evidence collected from body dump site in Ashland County has become relevant again today with technology.

What happened before she got to the dump site? FBI agent Phil Torsni said the curtain and blanket found with Amy's body is important.

Detectives picked up every piece of garbage and debris found along that roadway.

"The blanket and curtain had hairs on them, in particular K9 hairs," Torsini said.

Detectives took hair samples from Mihaljevic's dog and found that they were transferred from Amy's body to those items and to the dump site.

They believe these items are from the crime scene and used to bring her to the place where she was dumped. This could help find the original location where Amy was killed.

Bay Village Police Chief Mark Spatzel says items are routinely resubmitted as science changes. The problem is the items could have come from a thousand different places. But the curtain is unique, homemade and in places crudely made, so police are hoping someone will recognize it.

It is avocado green, a popular color in 1970s and 80s. It has deteriorated over the years. It is tab-top style. "Stitching pattern goes up and down at top and horizontal on bottom," Torsni said.

The curtain and blanket together mean something, Torsini added. The blanket doesn't have any special characteristics.

Bay Village police has never given up on this case. They applied for grants and continue working on this case, McGinty said.

The case has haunted the west side suburb since she disappeared. Police believe she was tricked into meeting a man at the nearby Bay Square Shopping Center to help select a gift for her mother, who had gotten a promotion. She was never seen alive again. Her body was found four months later in a rural Ashland County field.

Police said today that suspect would be in his mid-50s.

Over the years there have been thousands of tips and some suspects, but never any arrests.

Police said the killer kept souvenirs, like her earrings, her shoes and a binder.

In 2014, Bay Police enlisted retired FBI agent Phil Torsni to focus exclusively on the Mihaljevic case. He solved several major cases for the FBI.

"We can solve this case, this is not the Napoleon of crime here. We wanna bring him in and we need your help," McGinty said.

Much of the old information made public remains intact. It's thought the killer had some kind of tie between Bay Village and Ashland county, knew the lay of the land and where to dump a body.

The curtains bring up a third unknown location, where the murder occurred before the body was wrapped, dumped and the blanket and curtain disposed of.

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