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Over three decades after the kidnapping of 10-year-old Amy Mihaljevic in northeast Ohio, local police said this week that newly-discovered DNA on a blanket and a curtain could be the key to solving the decades-old cold case.
Four months after her kidnapping in 1989, of which the 32nd anniversary falls on Wednesday, Amy's body was discovered in a field in Ashland County. Stab wounds were found on her neck and she had sustained a blow to the head. Investigators have never found her killer.
This week, Bay Village Police said that held evidence that was discovered close to where she was discovered in 1990 has tested positive for Amy's DNA.
“The curtain and a blanket were found about 300 yards away from her body. Through the 32 years, we weren’t positive what the relevance was of those two pieces of evidence because they were so far away from her body,” Bay Village Detective Jay Elish told WJW. “We now know for a fact her hair was on that curtain, so that tells us [that] somehow that curtain was either wrapped around her or somehow involved in this crime.
"It is a very important piece of evidence,” he added.
Now, police want to speak to anyone with information about the two pieces of evidence.
“We need to know where that curtain was located,” Elish told the station. “Was it in a barn? A house? It looks more like some type of quilt that was made into a curtain. If you look at the tabs on the top it looks like someone may have cut off a corner of another part of the curtain and made the tabs to look like a curtain.”
Amy was last seen alive at the Bay Village Square Shopping Center on October 27, 1989. She told her mother that she planned to audition that day for the fifth-grade choir at Bay Middle School, according to WJW. Two witnesses told authorities that they saw her at the shopping center. One said that a man had approached her; investigators said she was last seen walking through a parking lot with the unknown man.
Described as being between 30 and 40 years old, the man had apparently telephoned Amy several times before her disappearance and promised to take her shopping. She wanted to buy her mom a present, as she had recently gotten a new job, according to the FBI.
Amy told friends that this was a secret; the man had told that her she could keep a secret better than her brother and that’s why he was calling her, FBI agents said.
Investigators said that they have never found the turquoise horse earring, black boots, and leather binder that Amy had on her at the time of her abduction.
Amy's case is now the longest active case in FBI history, according to WOIO.
Meanwhile, local police have also continued the investigation over the years, Elish said.
“We do a lot of work on this case, and we have people we are consistently looking at as far as suspects,” he told WYW.
Elish said if the new evidence leads investigators to one of the people they now consider a person of interest or suspect, he would consider that a "home run.”
Amy’s father, Mark Mihaljevic, said that he has long believed that DNA evidence would become crucial to solving his daughter’s murder, according to WOIO. He spoke to the station last year on the 31st anniversary of Amy’s disappearance. He was returning from a business trip when he learned that his daughter never came home from school.
'It’s too big of a secret for someone not to have told somebody. People don’t keep secrets like this without telling somebody," he told the station.
Mihaljevic said he is looking for the relief and closure that will come when police finally capture Amy’s killer.
“A lot of tears of sadness and joy at that moment, I tell you that,” he said. “It’ll be easier when it’s solved.”
Amy's mother, Margaret McNulty, launched a foundation to protect children after her daughter's murder. She died of lupus at 54 in 2001.
Authorities are offering a $50,000 reward to anyone who provides information in the case that leads to an arrest.
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