Cuyahoga County

Investigators ask for public’s help with new evidence in 1989 kidnapping and murder of Amy Mihaljevic

6/23/2016

Retired FBI Special Agent Phil Torsney presenting the curtain found where Amy Mihaljevic was killed.

Bay Village Chief Mark Spaetzel with the homemade curtain investigators believe someone will recognize.

Bay Village, Ohio — Investigators are asking for the public’s help identifying a piece of evidence they believe could lead them to the place where 10-year-old Amy Mihaljevic of Bay Village was murdered in 1989.

During a press conference today at the Bay Village Police Department, officials from the Bay Village Police Department, the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office, the Ashland County Sheriff’s Department and the FBI showed what appears to be a homemade curtain found in the same wheat field where Amy’s body was discovered on February 8, 1990.

Recent scientific testing revealed that the curtain, discovered about 1,000 feet from the child’s body, had hairs on it matching those of the Mihaljevic family’s dog. Investigators believe that dog hair from Amy’s clothing was transferred to this curtain, and that the curtain came from the site where the homicide took place.

Bay Village Police Chief Mark Spaetzel and retired FBI Agent Phil Torsney said that the curtain was almost certainly used to transport Amy’s body from the place where she was killed to the field on County Road 1181 in Ashland County.

“We know where Amy was abducted, and we know where she was found,” said Torsney, who has hired by Cuyahoga County Timothy J. McGinty in 2013 to review the case file and has since worked closely with Bay Village Police. “This piece of evidence could tell us where she was killed and help us find the person who killed her.”

 “This curtain is a one of a kind,” said Chief Spaetzel, who investigated Amy’s disappearance, kidnapping and murder as a young detective. “Someone made this. Someone saw this in a home prior to October 27, 1989. Anyone with any knowledge of this curtain, we need you to come forward. This is the most important evidence we have had in years.” Anyone who might be able to help identify where the avocado-green curtain came from is asked to contact the Bay Village Police Department. They can telephone (440) 871-1234. Or email: bvpd@cityofbayvillage.com

There is a $50,000 reward for information that leads to the capture of the killer.

“With your help, with the public’s help, we can solve this case,” Prosecutor McGinty said.

“We have never given up, never stopped working this case, and we never will,”said Chief Spaetzel.

Background of the case

On October 27, 1989, 10-year-old Amy Mihaljevic was abducted from Bay Village Square Shopping Center in Bay Village, Ohio. The victim left school at 2:05 p.m. and walked approximately a quarter mile to the shopping center. The last confirmed sighting of Amy was outside a business at the square between 2:15 and 2:30 p.m.

At the time of abduction, two separate witnesses observed a white male with Amy at the shopping center. One witness observed the man speaking to Amy. The second witness saw him approach the girl prior to directing her towards the shopping center parking lot. This white male was described as being between 30 and 40 years of age, 5-foot-7 to 5-foot-10 in height, with a medium build, dark hair
and possibly glasses.

Investigation indicates that Amy received a telephone call some days prior to her
abduction from an unknown individual. The caller arranged to meet Amy after requesting her assistance in selecting a gift to give to Amy’s mother to reward her for a job promotion. At the time, Amy’s mother worked for “Trading Times” magazine in Westlake, Ohio.

At roughly 3:30 p.m., Amy’s mother received a brief phone call at work from her daughter. She assumed Amy was home and checking in as she regularly did after school. Only upon returning from work around 5 did Margaret Mihaljevic realize that Amy had not been home. She then discovered Amy’s bike still at Bay Village Middle School, and at 5:58 p.m., went to the Bay Village Police Department to report her daughter missing.

The ensuing intense search for Amy ended on February 8, 1990, when her body was discovered in a farm field about 20 feet from the surface of County Road 1181 in Ruggles Township, Ashland County, Ohio. That is about 50 miles southwest of Bay Village. Amy had on the same clothing that she had worn to school on October 27.

Click here to view the presentation from today's Press Conference


Contact: Joseph Frolik, Director of Communications and Public Policy, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office. Phone: 216.443.7488 or Email: jfrolik@prosecutor.cuyahogacounty.us