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Amy Renee Mihaljevic (December 11, 1978 – October 27, 1989) was an elementary schoolgirl who was kidnapped and murdered in the U.S. state of Ohiomarker in 1989. Her murder case raised national attention. The story of her unsolved kidnap/murder was one of the first unsolved crimes presented by John Walsh on the television show, America's Most Wanted during its first year. To date, her killer has not been found, yet the case remains active; new information in 2007 has increased hopes of resolving the case.

Case history

On October 27, 1989, ten-year-old Amy Mihaljevic was kidnapped from the Bay Square Shopping Center in Bay Village, Ohiomarker, a suburb of Cleveland. The abductor had contacted Mihaljevic by telephone and arranged to meet her on the pretext of buying a gift for her mother because she had recently been promoted, as he told her. On February 8, 1990, the girl's body was found in a field off of County Road 1181, Ruggles Townshipmarker in rural Ashland County, Ohiomarker.

Evidence found at the scene of the crime suggests that Mihaljevic's body was probably dumped there shortly after her abduction. There were signs that her body had been previously stored in a relatively cool place. Based on findings by the Cuyahoga County coroner, Mihaljevic's last meal was some sort of soy substance, possibly an artificial chicken product or Chinese food. Other evidence includes the presence of yellow/gold colored fibers on her body. It appears her killer also took several souvenirs including the girl's horse-riding boots, her denim backpack, a binder with "Buick, Best in Class" written on the front clasp, and turquoise earrings in the shape of horse heads.

The Bay Village Police and the FBImarker conducted an extensive investigation into her disappearance and murder. The case generated thousands of leads. Dozens of suspects were asked to take lie-detector tests, but no one has ever been charged with the crime. Law enforcement continues to pursue leads and monitor suspects to the present day.

In 2005, Cleveland journalist James Renner re-examined this cold case with a series of articles in the weekly newspaper Cleveland Scene. Renner's 2005 series provided new research that he had independently undertaken, as well as openly soliciting the public for new information and clues. In October 2006, publisher Gray & Co. released a book about Renner's investigation into the murder called Amy: My Search for Her Killer. The book provided information previously unreleased by the police and FBI. In 2007, Renner donated his files, consisting of the largest private collection of material on the Mihaljevic case, to the Department of Special Collections and Archives at Kent State Universitymarker, Ohiomarker.

In November 2006 it was revealed that several other young girls had received phone calls similar to that to which Amy responded, during the weeks prior to Amy's abduction in 1989. These comprised requests from an unknown man, claiming to work with their mother, asking the girl to help him shop for a present to celebrate her mother's job promotion. The girls who received these calls lived in North Olmstedmarker, a suburb near Bay Village; some had unlisted phone numbers. This new information was considered significant by new movement on the case.

Bay Village police collected DNA samples from several potential suspects in the case in December, 2006. As of early 2007, it was reported that a longtime suspect in the case had retained legal counsel.


Dean Runkle

According to reporter James Renner, Dean Runkle is a possible prime suspect in the FBImarker investigation. Multiple witnesses say that he matches the man they saw with Amy the day she vanished. Runkle also seemed to have volunteered in the Lake Eriemarker Nature and Science Center in Bay Village at the time of the murder. All four girls, who received suspicious phone calls (with Amy being the last one), have visited it in the weeks before the abduction and may have written their names and phone numbers in a logbook by the front doors. Although Renner describes Runkle as an eccentric teacher, no hard evidence supports this view. Dean Runkle himself denies any involvement in the murder of Amy Mihaljevic and the FBI has never officially declared him a suspect.


Further reading

  • Renner, James (2008). The Serial Killer's Apprentice: And 12 Other True Stories of Cleveland's Most Intriguing Unsolved Crimes. Cleveland, OH: Gray & Company, Publishers. ISBN 978-1-59851-046-1

  • Renner, James (2006). Amy: My Search for Her Killer: Secrets & Suspects in the Unsolved Murder of Amy Mihaljevic. Cleveland, Ohio: Gray & Co. ISBN 9781598510195.

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