On October 27, 1989, ten-year-old Amy Mihaljevic was ki*dnapped from the Bay Square Shopping Center, in Bay Village, Ohio (which was a suburb of Cleveland). Her abd*uction created waves in the community, as residents feared their child might go missing as well.

The person that had ki*dnapped Mihaljevic, had called her, and arranged for them to meet up. Amy had been at home alone when she received the call. Amy’s mother had recently gotten a promotion at ‘Trading Times Magazine’, and the unknown male caller had convinced ten-year-old Amy Mihaljevic to meet him at the mall, so they could buy a special gift for her mother’s promotion.

The unknown caller’s identity has yet to be identified. It was believed that Amy had received the single phone call from the unknown man, although there may have been multiple phone calls over time, to gain the girl’s trust. The police believed that Amy may have known her abd*uctor. Her friends and family were insistent that she would not have gone off with a stranger.

Amy Renee Mihaljevic was born on December 11, 1978, in Little Rock, Arkansas. She was the daughter of Mark Mihaljevic, and Margaret Mihaljevic.

On the day of her disappearance, she had left her bike at school, and walked to the shopping center to meet with the unknown man. Some of Amy Mihaljevic’s classmates had seen her standing by the barber shop at Bay Village Square, talking to an unknown man. Her two classmates were able to give the police a description of the unknown man, and they were able to create a composite sketch. They circulated the composite sketch throughout the local area, distributing thousands of copies.

One of the barbershop employees, told police that he’d been working the day that Mihaljevic had gone missing. He’d stated that he hadn’t heard any screaming, or any sounds of a struggle.

On the day of Amy Mihaljevic’s abd*uction, her school had a stranger danger presentation, by Bay Village officer Mark A. Spaetzel. He was assigned to the Mihaljevic’s case. Mihaljevic’s case was one that he would continually think about throughout his career, unable to let it go. Decades later, Spaetzel became police chief.

Mihaljevic’s disappearance worried a lot of parents in Bay Village. Amy had been abd*ucted just a few days before Halloween. Parents who took their children trick-or-treating that year kept their children extremely close, fearful that their child might disappear like Amy had.

Parents had also begun escorting their children to and from school, fearful that their children were in danger — as the police still had not made an arrest in the abd*uction case. Teachers at the Bay Middle School where Amy Mihaljevic had attended, spoke to their students about the ab*ducted girl, trying to counsel the worried students as best as they could during the highly stressful time. Many of the students in Bay Village were shaken by the incident, finding it upsetting that someone like that could happen in their area.

A lot of locals turned to the church in their distress, filling the Bay Village pews. Churchgoers held prayer vigils, praying that young Amy Mihaljevic would get home safe and sound. In the days after her abd*uction, local residents hung white ribbons on tree trunks around Bay Village — a message to the Mihaljevic family that the residents were keeping them in their prayers.

Amy’s mother, Margaret Mihaljevic, made a TV appearance, pleading desperately for the ki*dnapper to return her daughter. She also begged the ki*dnapper to let her daughter make a phone call. She said, ‘You got my work number; you got my home number. Just call, sweetie. Please call.’

Margaret Mihaljevic spoke to News 5 Cleveland Interview about her daughter’s disappearance. She said the following: ‘Oh, my god. You can’t imagine. The stress has been unbearable.’

Margaret went on to describe her daughter as being a reliable, and a responsible child. She told the reporter that the person that had taken her daughter, had taken advantage of Amy’s desire to do something nice for her mother, and that they had conned her.Composite sketch released to the public, Two of Amy’s classmates had seen the man with Amy Mihaljevic just before she disappeared.

The Bay Village Police worked with the FBI, to investigate Amy Mihaljevic’s ab*duction. The search for Mihaljevic was the largest search in Ohio, since Beverly Potts had disappeared in 1951.

A great deal of stores in the Bay Village area posted missing persons in store windows. They hoped that someone might know what had happened to the young girl, that they would contact the authorities.

A Pizza Hut decided to distribute missing posters, and the composite sketch, on each pizza box that they sent out. Within the first few days of the girls’ disappearance, there had been more than ten thousand posters distributed in the city, and in the surrounding states.

There were thousands of leads that the authorities had to look into. In the first few days following Mihaljevic’s abdu*ction, the FBI and Bay Village Police Department had received more than a hundred tips. They worked sixteen-hour days trying to get through all the leads.

There had been more than fifty FBI agents, and twenty-four Bay Village police officers working on the Amy Mihaljevic case. A great deal of the local police officers took the Mihaljevic case extremely personally, because many of them had children around Amy’s age. They were determined to find Amy Mihaljevic, and bring her home safe.

There was an ‘Amy Center’ created in the Bay Village City Hall, where people could go there, to find out information about the missing girl’s case. People could pick up composite sketch flyers to distribute as well. It had also become a tip center.

Although at first, there had been a constant stream of tips coming in, they had started to dry up. Some of the authorities believed that they were about to get pulled off the case, because so much time had passed since her abd*uction.

On February 8, 1990. A jogger discovered Amy Mihaljevic’s body lying facedown in the field, and she was barefoot. Her remains were found in a field near County Road 1181, in Ruggles Township (rural Ashland County, Ohio). The body dump site was fifty miles away from where she’d been abd*ucted. Amy Mihaljevic had been stabbed to death.

The mur*der case of Mihaljevic received national attention, as people were horrified and saddened by the death of the young girl. It was believed that Amy Mihaljevic’s body had been dumped at the site shortly after she had been abd*ucted at the shopping center. The ki*ller had taken multiple souvenirs from her body — including her horse-riding boots, denim backpack, turquoise horse-head earrings, and a binder with ‘Buick, Best in Class’ written on the front clasp.

Ashland County Coroner’s Office requested that Mihaljevic’s body be transferred to Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s office. They determined that her cause of death was by stabbing. The coroner also found blood in Mihaljevic’s underwear, which suggested that she may have been sexually assaulted before her death.

Mihaljevic’s stomach contents were inspected, and it was believed that her last meal had been a soy product — possibly Chinese food, or an artificial chicken product. There were small yellow, or gold-coloured fibers found on her body. Authorities took a mitochondrial DNA sample from the crime scene, in hopes that they could compare it to samples of future suspects.

After Mihaljevic’s remains were discovered, the Bay Village Police set up a command center in Ashland County. This was arranged, so that they could work alongside the county sheriff’s office. The FBI Special Agent in Charge was William D. Branon. He ensured that the information surrounding Mihaljevic’s mu*rder, was sent out to other FBI field offices in the United States, to aid in finding the k*iller.

The show ‘America’s Most Wanted’ featured the story of Mihaljevic’s unsolved mur*der, and the show ‘Unsolved Mysteries’ featured a segment about the young girl’s mur*der as well.

Amy Mihaljevic was laid to rest at Highland Memorial Park, in New Berlin, Wisconsin.

Amy’s father, Mark Mihaljevic, spoke out about his daughter’s mu*rder. ‘It seems like yesterday like it just happened. At least a couple of times a week, I think about it. I can never stop thinking about it.’

At one point, a man had walked up to a Salvation Army bell ring, and confessed to the mu*rder of Amy Mihaljevic. After the confession, the man went into the store to buy some items, then came back out again. The man approached the bell ringer a second time, and confessed to the crime yet again.

The man then got into his vehicle (a dark brown Chevrolet pickup, with a bedcap, and running boards). The police stated that the man didn’t fit the description of the composite sketch, and so the confession was not considered credible.

This was not the first time that someone had confessed to ki*lling Amy Mihaljevic. Over the decades, there had been about at least a dozen other incidents, where people claimed to have murd*ered the ten-year-old girl. Years after her mur*der, a man entered a morning mass service in Northeast Ohio, and started to create a disturbance. He was pushing churchgoers, shouting that he had ki*lled Mihaljevic. He was arrested, although his confession was later dismissed. Bay Village Police Department said that his confession was not valid.

In November 2006, the authorities discovered that around the time of Mihaljevic’s disappearance, there were other young girls that had received similar phone calls. The unidentified male caller had contacted other girls, claiming that he wanted to help them buy a present for their mother — to celebrate their mothers’ new promotion. Some of the girls were living in North Olmsted, which was a suburb near Bay Village. Other girls had unlisted phone numbers. The authorities believed that this new information was extremely significant to the case.

All of the girls that had been contacted, had something in common. They had all visited the ‘Lake Erie Nature and Science Center’. The girls had signed the visitor’s logbook at the entrance, writing down personal information — such as phone numbers, and addresses.

In December 2006, the Bay Village police collected DNA samples from multiple potential suspects. By early 2007, there were reports that one of the suspects had gotten legal counsel.

In 2013, investigator Phil Torsney came out of retirement to start working on the case again. He had initially been assigned to the case after Amy Mihaljevic’s remains were discovered. Torsney had been involved in arresting Whitey Bulger, who had been on the FBI Top Ten Most Wanted.

Torsney believed that once Mihaljevic had been ab*ducted, her ki*dnapper had taken her out of Bay Village. This was because the town was ‘too dense, too close-knit, to be a likely place to commit mur*der’. However, he believed that the mu*rder had taken place in Ashland County. Torsney believed that the ki*ller was familiar with the area.A new composite sketch was released to the public, after more witnesses had come forward.

In 2014, the FBI announced that there was a $25,000 reward for any information that would lead to an arrest and conviction in the Mihaljevic mu*rder. The reward money was increased to $27,000 a few months later.

In 2016, there was an update in the case. There had been a curtain and blanket found near Mihaljevic’s remains. The curtain was olive green, and police believed that the curtain had been made out of a bed comforter. It was believed that the curtains, and blanket were potentially used to hide the young victim’s body, before the ki*ller dumped her body in the field. The curtain had been removed from the body dump site by the investigators when Amy’s remains had been discovered. The authorities discovered that the curtain and blanket had hairs on them — and these hairs were similar to the Mihaljevic’s family dog.

In 2018, authorities looked into a link between Mihaljevic’s mur*der, and identity thief Robert Ivan Nichols (who also went by the alias Joseph Newton Chandler III). No arrests were made.

In 2019, authorities stated that they had extensively investigated the many suspects in the mur*der case, and they felt that if her ki*ller was identified, it was likely that the k*iller was already on their extensive list.

Thirty-one years after Amy Mihaljevic’s remains had been discovered, there was a major development in her case. There was a sixty-four-year-old man, who was not publicly identified, that was implicated by his former girlfriend in the abd*uction and murd*er. The man had lived near the abd*uction site (about 1.5 miles from the shopping center).

According to the woman, her former boyfriend had been uncharacteristically absent from his home around the time that Mihaljevic had disappeared. It was unlike him to stay away from the house overnight like that. He’d called her very late that night, asking if she had seen any of the media reports about the ki*dnapped child.

The former girlfriend had told police, that she’d travelled to Ashland County on numerous trips with him. This meant that her boyfriend was familiar with the area where Mihaljevic’s body had been dumped after her abd*uction. The man worked in the city, and his niece was in Mihaljevic’s grade at school. According to her statement, the man had also told her at one point that he knew Amy Mihaljevic.

According to the authorities, the man’s appearance back in 1989, was ‘consistent with one of two major suspect composites obtained via witness interviews.’

In November 2019, the unidentified man set foot in the Bay Village Police Department, and spoke to the police about the thirty-year-old mur*der. During the course of the two days, police had interviewed the man, though they considered some of it ‘suspicious statements’.

When the police asked the man if he had called Mihaljevic at some point before her ab*duction, the man told them that ‘I could have’, and, ‘it could have been a wrong number’.

The police questioned him about whether the m*urder victim had ever been in his car. The man said, ‘I don’t believe so.’ When they asked him again if it was possible for Mihaljevic to be in his vehicle, he answered with, ‘okay, but I don’t know what the situation would have been.’

The man told police that 1989–90, was what he considered a ‘dark period’ in his life. He also told the police that he’d met Amy Mihaljevic’s mother, Margaret Mihaljevic, at a bar at some point before the girl had gone missing. He was asked to do a polygraph test, and the man did so. He failed the polygraph test.

The man was supposed to meet with the police the next day, to sign paperwork that would allow them to search his storage unit. However, he failed to show up. The police went to the judge, and obtained a warrant to search his storage unit. They confiscated items of interest.

The man agreed to a DNA swab. When questioned about his DNA potentially being found at the crime scene, the man said that it was possible that his DNA would be found on the curtain near Mihaljevic’s remains. He said, ‘I did not put it there’. The man stated that ‘his DNA would be on Amy’s body, if somebody planted it on her.’

The unidentified man had driven a gold Oldsmobile, with a tan interior from 1989–90. There were two people who had witnessed the unidentified ki*dnapper speaking to the Mihaljevic, before putting the young girl into his vehicle. The two witnesses were able to identify the suspect out of multiple line-ups, in May 2020. This vehicle was the same make and model that the unidentified man had driven at the time — and the vehicle’s carpeting was the same yellow/gold colour as the fibers discovered on Mihaljevic’s remains.

There had been a vehicle of that same make and model, that was seen driving through the intersection of the body dumpsite on February 8, 1990 — the day that her remains were discovered in the field.

One of the Bay Village detectives, had written the following: ‘investigation has not been able to show any reasons why the man should have been ear Amy Mihaljevic’s body recovery site on 2/8/1990.’

The victim’s mother, Margaret Mihaljevic, co-founded a foundation to protect children from the horrible situation in which her daughter had suffered.

Margaret Mihaljevic stated the following about the foundation she’d created in honour of her deceased daughter: ‘There are other missing children. There are more out there, and if I can help wake up the nation to the fate of these children, I want to do it. We know what brutal fate Amy suffered. We can only imagine what torture she must have gone through. But there are other children.’

Margaret Mihaljevic spoke out about the fact that her daughter’s killer has never been arrested. He is still out there, roaming free. Potentially going after other young victims. ‘It frightens me If someone who look like this did it once, maybe he did it before that time, maybe he will do it again. We have got to find him. I cannot deal with what Amy might have gone through yet. I cannot consciously block it out of my mind. I cannot handle that yet.’

Margaret Mihaljevic had managed to find some closure when her daughter’s remains had been found. During an interview with News 5 Cleveland, Mihaljevic said the following: ‘On one part of it, yes. The door will never be closed for me because there is a vast emptiness inside of me that Amy’s passing has left. But it did end the agony of not knowing.’

Margaret Mihaljevic had fallen ill with lupus after her daughter’s death. She died in 2001, at fifty-four years old, never having seen justice for young Amy.

In 1989, the police were unable to use DNA technology. However, they did collect DNA evidence from the body dump site, in hopes that it might one day help crack the case. There is always that slim hope, that this DNA evidence collected decades ago, will one day lead the authorities to Amy’s murd*erer.

It has been decades since Mihaljevic had been murd*ered. The FBI, and the Bay Village Police have continued to work on her case, as there are still fresh leads coming in from the public.

The authorities believe that the ki*ller took certain items from Amy Mihaljevic before she was dumped in the field. Many k*illers take trophies from their victims, and items such as Amy’s boots, earrings, and Buick binder have never been recovered. The police believe that if they are able to locate these items, they could find her ki*ller.

To this day, Amy Mihaljevic’s murd*er has yet to be solved. Nobody has ever been arrested for the crime. They investigated dozens of suspects, subjecting them to lie-detector tests. Since her m*urder, the authorities have conducted more than 20,000 interviews. They are still actively looking into leads.

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