CLEVELAND – As the 30th anniversary of the abduction and murder of Amy Mihaljevic approaches, new DNA technology and a new level of national attention may help unravel at least parts of a mystery that have haunted Northeast Ohio for a generation.
Amy was 10 years old when she left a Bay Village shopping plaza on a late October afternoon in 1989 with an unidentified man who had called her home, and told her he wanted to help buy a gift for her mother.
Amy was never seen alive again. Her body was found in early 1990, just off a remote road in Ashland County, about an hour’s drive south of Cleveland.
Her case will be re-examined in detail during a three-hour TV special, “Who Killed Amy Mihaljevic?” on Investigation Discovery that airs on December 30 at 9 p.m. (Here is how to find the show in your area.)
In addition, local author James Renner will have a companion web series on the Investigation Discovery website.
Recent advances in DNA technology using so-called “familial DNA” have helped to break many notorious cold cases nationwide.
One recent case involved the so-called “Golden State Killer” in California. The suspect, 72-year-old Joseph DeAngelo, a former police officer, was arrested decades after the crimes – in large part, because authorities were able to track him down by establishing a “family tree” of relatives on a genealogy website who shared DNA with the unknown killer.
By narrowing down the pool of people who could be the killer, authorities eventually zeroed in on DeAngelo. Once they obtained his DNA, they ran it against DNA from the crime scenes, and got a match.
The killer is believed to have committed a dozen murders and 50 rapes during the 1970s and 1980s.
The identity of Amy’s killer has remained a mystery for nearly thirty years.
Authorities have investigated several people over the decades, but have never charged anyone with Amy’s murder.
Her mother died years ago, but her father, Mark, remained in the Cleveland area, and has always held out hope that his daughter’s killer would one day be brought to justice.