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Little Girl Lost: New Leads Bring Hope To Amy Mihalijevic Case


Before other little girls like Shasta Groene, Shakira Johnson, and Natalee Holloway went missing, there was a cute little tomboy named Amy that disappeared. That little girl hated the picture with her hair braided to the left, but it was that pic that would be posted everywhere.

Amy Mihalijevic was just 10-years-old when she was kidnapped and murdered. Although the tragic crime took place in Ohio, the news of the elementary student gained nationwide attention. The case was deeply investigated, but the person responsible for Amy’s death has never been found.

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She was abducted in October 1989, and for several months, the search for her continued. Her image, the one she despised with her eyes half closed, but a smile on her face, was plastered to bulletin boards and telephone poles, flashed on every news station in the country, and was printed in newspapers nationwide.

The case of Amy Mihalijevic gained so much attention that her unsolved abduction and murder became one of the first criminal cases that John Walsh presented on the television show America’s Most Wanted. To date, the person that took this little girl, and murdered her, has yet to be found, but new evidence has given the case renewed hope.

To see the evidence that may finally crack the case of Amy Mihalijevic, click ‘Start Slideshow!’

The Happy Tomboy

Amy was a happy, intelligent, tomboy with a sparkle in her eyes. The fourth-grade elementary student lived with her older brother and parents in a little Ohio town called Bay Village. Her neighbors described her as a bundle of energy, always zipping her bicycle around the neighborhood dishing out big smiles and happy waves.

Amy befriended fellow classmate Kristen Sabo, and spent nearly every day of the summer of 1989 at her house. Kristen’s mother, Jeanne, looked at Amy as if she was her adopted daughter. Jeanne says Amy spent a lot of time at her house because she didn’t like her to be alone, but Amy always knew it was time to head to her own house when the streetlights came on.

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What nickname was lovingly given to Amy due to her disheveled appearance? Keep reading to find out!

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Although a cute child, Amy often looked disheveled, and preferred sweat pants over jeans. Jeanne lovingly nicknamed Amy “Ragamuffin,” because she often had to tilt her head to look out from underneath her unbrushed hair. Jeanne recalled Amy as being a beautiful child.

The two girls began growing apart when Kristen joined a soccer team, and Amy began riding horses at Holly Hill Farms. She visited the farm at least once a week for lessons, but by October was spending nearly every day there. Most days she rode her bicycle there, and was commonly unsupervised.

Why did the killer say he chose Amy to help him rather than her older brother? Click ‘Next’ to see!

Shopping For A “Friend”

The fateful day for Amy came on October 27, 1989, when she agreed to help a man shop for her mother at the Bay Square Shopping Center. Amy’s mom had begun a part-time job at “Tradin’ Times” magazine. Amy didn’t know all the people that worked there, but a man called her claiming that he needed her help picking out a gift for her mother because she’d gotten a promotion.

The man, who investigators believe Amy knew, said he chose her instead of her brother because she was better at keeping secrets. He asked her to meet him at the shopping center outside of Baskin-Robbins. Amy agreed to meet him, but told some of her friends about the meeting, and swore them to secrecy.

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What evidence proved to investigators that Amy might not have been the first target? Keep reading to find out!

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Investigators believe that once Amy met the man at the shopping center, he convinced Amy to call her mother so she wouldn’t be worried about her whereabouts. The last place Amy was seen alive is at that shopping center.

It was revealed in 2006, that other girls in the area had received calls like Amy prior to her abduction. The phone calls also came from an unknown man who claimed to work with their mother, and was asking for assistance picking out a gift for her. The discovery of the phone calls was believed to be a significant movement in the case.

Where did Amy’s mother believe she was at the day she didn’t come home from school? Click ‘Next’ to see.

The Disappearance

Amy made her way to the ice cream shop at the shopping center wearing a purple shirt, ankle high black boots, and green sweatpants. Her older brother, when junior high school was released an hour after Amy’s elementary school, began to head to the shopping center, but decided to go home when a group of bullies changed his mind.

When her brother, Jason, made it home, he realized Amy wasn’t already there, and called their mother, Margaret. She told Jason that Amy had gone to a choir function, but should be home shortly and asked Jason to call her when Amy arrived.

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How many hours passed after Amy’s disappearance before FBI began searching for her? Keep reading to find out!

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When Amy still didn’t arrive home, Jason called Margaret again. She prepared to leave the office just as Amy called her. Margaret incorrectly assumed that Amy had called from home, but something in Amy’s voice concerned her, so she packed up and headed home.

When Margaret arrived home, and discovered Amy wasn’t there, she went to the school where she found Amy’s bicycle still in the rack. When Amy’s father, Mark, arrived home, Margaret was frantic, and they began searching for Amy. The FBI search for Amy began 14 hours after her parents discovered her missing.

What was the problem with using phone records to locate, and catch Amy’s killer? Click ‘Next’ to find out!

The Search For Amy

Investigators began questioning Amy’s friends, and found out about the phone call from the strange man, and Amy’s plans to meet him at the shopping center. They thought the phone call might solve the mystery. Unfortunately, the call was made from a local phone number, and only long-distance call records were kept by the phone company at that time.

A classmate of Amy’s reported that she had seen her in front of Baskin-Robbins talking to a white man with dark hair, a bald spot, and glasses. A sketch of the man was created, and posted around the area with Amy’s photograph.

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What day was celebrated that Amy’s dad, Mark, says he gave up hope? Keep reading for the astonishing answer.

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Dozens of volunteers handed out copies of Amy’s pictures, and the sketch of the unknown man. The volunteers fixed meals for the investigators who were working around the clock. By the Saturday after Amy’s disappearance, FBI agents brought out search dogs and heat-sensing planes to canvass the area.

The first week Amy was missing saw Halloween come and go, but there was still no real leads on Amy’s whereabouts. As the weeks passed, the stories of Amy changed from front page layouts to single paragraphs buried inside the papers. Family celebrated Amy’s 11th birthday without her, a day Mark Mihaljevic says he gave up hope.

How long after Amy disappeared was her body found? Click ‘Next’ to find out the unbelievable answer.

Amy’s Body Found

On February 8, 1990, four months after Amy’s disappearance, Janet Seabold set out for her morning jog. The route she chose led her through cornfields near County Road 1181 in the township of Ruggles. As she approached an access road that lead to a sugar mill, Seabold caught a glimpse of something out of the corner of her eye.

What she saw was a mop of golden hair and purple fabric, leaving her too afraid to take a closer look. Seabold ran to the closest house, banging frantically on the door. “I think I saw a dead body!” she screamed. “Call the police!”

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Amy was found wearing her purple shirt and green sweat pants, but something was missing. Keep reading to see what!

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Even with 14 years under his belt with the Ashland County Sheriff’s Department, Roger Martin says he has never seen anything like what he did the day they found Amy. She lay face down, only 12 feet from the edge of the road. Her body had decomposed, and her teeth had fallen out. Still, he could tell they had found the little girl on the posters.

After 104 days missing, Amy had been found, still wearing the purple shirt and green sweatpants. Her boots were nowhere to be found. According to the autopsy, Amy was struck in the back of the head with a blunt object, as well as stabbed three or four times on her neck. The report shows she was likely dead within 30 minutes of the trauma.

How many interviews have taken place during the investigation? Click ‘Next’ for the astonishing answer!

The Investigation

The FBI and Bay Village Police performed an extensive investigation into the kidnapping and murder of Amy that generated hundreds of leads. Multiple suspects were taken into custody, and given lie detector tests, but none have been charged.

Over 20,000 interviews have taken place throughout the investigation, and DNA samples have been taken. Evidence at the crime scene shows that Amy’s body was likely left there shortly after her abduction and death. Her last meal was something soy, possibly Chinese food or artificial chicken.

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What souvenirs did Amy’s murderer take from the crime? Keep reading for the disturbing answer.

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Yellow fibers were found on her body, and it appears that whoever killed her took several souvenirs of their crime. Her boots, binder, turquoise earrings, and backpack were all missing. Blood found on Amy’s underwear suggests that she might have been sexually abused or raped before her death, the date of which hasn’t been determined.

Investigators believe that whoever did this to Amy knew her and her family, and say that they are hoping someone will come forward with information surrounding her disappearance and murder. A $25,000 reward is available to whomever can provide that information.

This journalist was only 11-years-old when Amy disappeared, but keeps her case alive. Click ‘Next’ to see who he is.

The Man That Won’t Give Up On The Case

Cleveland journalist, James Renner, was only 11-years-old himself when Amy was kidnapped. He says he fell in love with the girl whose class picture was plastered everywhere. As a child, he vowed to find Amy’s killer, and as an adult, his search continues.

Renner’s search for Amy’s killer has consumed a large part of his adult life. He’s even written a book about her titled “Amy: My Search for Her Killer,” as well as a blog titled “Finding Amy.” He says he has a compulsion to find bad guys, and says if it were his child, he’d move heaven and earth to find who did it to her.

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Who questions Renner’s true motives when he’s working with the case? Keep reading to find out!

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Although Renner says his intentions are nothing but pure, even Amy’s dad, Mark, questions his motives. Mark Mihaljevic credits Renner with keeping the case alive, but says he thinks part of the reason is the spotlight he gets from remaining involved. Regardless of the reason, he says he’s grateful for the work he has done in trying to solve the case.

Bay Village Police Chief, Mark Spaetzel, shares Mark’s viewpoint on Renner. He says he’s not sure of Renner’s motives, but says as long as he continues to generate leads without interfering in the investigation, his efforts are helpful.

During his private investigations, Renner has continued to suspect this man. Who is it? Click ‘Next’ to see.

Suspect Dean Runkle

One of the suspects Renner has his eye on is Dean Runkle. Renner claims he is a prime suspect in the FBI investigation because multiple witnesses claim Runkle matches the description of the man they saw with Amy the day she vanished.

Runkle was a volunteer at the Lake Erie Nature and Science Center where all four of the girls that received the suspicious phone calls had visited in the weeks leading up to Amy’s disappearance. The girls may have written their names and personal information in the visitor’s logbook. Runkle denied volunteering at the center when confronted by police.

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Why did Renner receive such strong criticism when listing Runkle as a suspect? Keep reading to find out!

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Renner describes Runkle as an eccentric teacher, but investigators say there is no evidence to support that claim. Runkle denies any involvement with Amy’s disappearance, and has never been officially declared as a suspect.

Runkle was exceptionally well-liked as a teacher, and past students denied that he could have had anything to do with what happened to Amy. Renner, who had named several prior suspects, received strong criticism when he listed Runkle as a possible suspect.

This suspect became defiant when interviewed by an FBI profiler. Who is he? Click ‘Next’ to find out!

Suspect Billy Strunak

Billy Strunak was another suspect who was never found innocent, or guilty, for that matter. FBI profiler, Robert Ressler, had been doing research for a book about serial killers. Ressler paid a visit to Strunak claiming to be thanking him for his volunteer work. However, Strunak discovered that Ressler’s questions were not innocent.

Ressler asked Strunak if he had taken Amy, or if he had picked her up with good intentions when something went wrong. Strunak became defiant, and insisted he had nothing to do with Amy’s disappearance and death.

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What act did Strunak commit that Ressler says was an admission of guilt? Keep reading for the shocking answer.

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Two weeks after the discovery of Amy’s body, Strunak downed a cup of soda and gasoline for breakfast. That evening, Strunak slipped into a coma, and died three days later. A search of his apartment by police yielded a suicide note, but Amy was not mentioned in it. For Ressler, the suicide was an admission of guilt.

Investigator Dick Wrenn was infuriated by Ressler’s assumptions, and said that those closely linked with the investigation never believed that Strunak was involved with the abduction and murder of Amy. Wrenn quickly dismissed any possibility of Strunak’s involvement, and moved on to who he believed was the killer.

This man chose church communion to announce his involvement with Amy’s death. Click ‘Next’ to see who he is.

Suspect Richard Folbert

On Sunday, October 13, 2002, communion had just started at St. Angela Merici Roman Catholic Church. That quiet moment of communion abruptly ended when a shaggy-haired man began yelling from his seat. He claimed he was Satan, and that he was responsible for Amy’s death.

Richard Folbert was quickly grabbed by off duty policeman, Thomas Zinsmayer, and was taken into custody. The schizophrenic 42-year-old man had skipped his medication for the last three weeks, and chose St. Angela to reveal his criminal acts.

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Folbert claims he is guilty, but has been labeled this by investigators. Keep reading to find out what they say.

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Folbert vaguely resembles the sketch that had been done of Amy’s abductor. He changed his story a bit, and told investigators that Satan had killed Amy and was trying to frame him for the murder. Investigators concluded that he had nothing to do with her murder, even though Folbert still stands by his statements.

FBI Agent Gary Belluomini says that Folbert is just a nut. He claims that they have had several people with mental conditions come forward during the investigation, but none of them panned out. Folbert also believes that Hillary Clinton is the antichrist.

This paranoid schizophrenic remains a top suspect on the list. Click ‘Next’ to find out who he is.

Suspect Harold Bound

The one suspect Detective Wrenn still has questions about it Harold “H.B.” Bound. A Vietnam veteran with paranoid schizophrenia, Bound lived above the garage, and cleaned the stables where Amy rode horses. The girls who received lessons at the stables described Bound as creepy.

He was a gun enthusiast that kept firearms and other weapons in his apartment. Shannon Conway, one of the girls who received lessons, says the girls all assumed Harold killed Amy. Bound had no alibi for the day of Amy’s disappearance, and took multiple lie detector tests, some of which he failed.

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Why did Bound admit himself to a mental facility shortly after Amy’s disappearance? Keep reading to find out!

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Even Bound’s brother, Greg, questions his brother in Amy’s case saying he saw his brother return home late the night of her disappearance. A week after Amy’s disappearance, Bound admitted himself to a mental facility at the Veteran’s Hospital in Brecksville. He claims he hears voices, and has uncontrollable violent tendencies.

Bound still receives outpatient therapy at the VA Hospital, and lives in a group home. He spends most of his nights sitting in church. He has claimed that he wouldn’t recognize Amy if he saw her, then admits to watching her at the stables. Detective Spaetzel admits Bound is their top suspect, but says without further evidence, an arrest isn’t possible.

What break in the case may allow investigators to finally close the case? Click ‘Next’ to find out the answer!

New Evidence

Detective Mark Spaetzel has been the curator of some 14,000 interviews and 8,000 leads. He has four file cabinets and two shelves stuffed full of evidence, reports, and photographs, all of which seem to lead to nowhere. Amy’s poster smiles down at him from above his desk, and says it feels like it happened yesterday.

He has continued to whittle away at a list of suspects and new leads. Spaetzel hasn’t given up hope on the case. He says DNA samples can now be compared by the FBI to a database of convicted felons. Evidence was just recently sent to be retested, although he won’t discuss specific details.

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Why do investigators believe this blanket and curtain will allow them to finally solve Amy’s case? Keep reading!

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With the help of DNA testing, a blanket and curtain that were found near Amy’s body has been tested and the hairs on it were matched to her dog, Jake. Amy’s body wasn’t wrapped in either piece of fabric, so investigators believe they likely came from the location of the murder.

The curtain is avocado green and handmade, possibly from an old bedspread. Investigators say they are hoping that someone will recognize the unique items, and come forward with the location they came from. They believe if they can find where the curtain and blanket came from, they can find Amy’s murderer.

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Little Girl Lost: New Leads Bring Hope To Amy Mihalijevic Case

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