Murder of Amy Mihaljevic

Amy Renee Mihaljevic (/mʌhɑːˈlɛvɪk/, MUH-hah-LEVIK; December 11, 1978 – c. October 27, 1989) was a ten-year-old American elementary school student who was kidnapped and murdered in the U.S. state of Ohio in 1989. Her murder case received national attention. The story of her unsolved kidnapping and murder were presented by John Walsh on the television show America's Most Wanted during the program's early years. To date, her killer has not been found, yet the case remains active; new information in 2007 and 2013 has increased hopes of resolving the case. In February 2021, it was announced that a person of interest emerged in the case after a woman contacted authorities in 2019 with potentially valuable information.[1]

Amy Mihaljevic
Mihaljevic's 1989 school photo
Amy Renee Mihaljevic

(1978-12-11)December 11, 1978
DisappearedOctober 27, 1989
Bay Village, Ohio, U.S.
Diedc. October 27, 1989 (1989-10-28) (aged 10)
Cause of deathHomicide by stabbing
Body discoveredFebruary 8, 1990
Ruggles Township, Ashland County, Ohio
Resting placeHighland Memorial Park, New Berlin, Waukesha County, Wisconsin, U.S.
Known forMurder victim

Disappearance and murderEdit

On October 27, 1989, Amy Mihaljevic was kidnapped from the Bay Square Shopping Center in Bay Village, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland.[2] 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.[3] On February 8, 1990, the girl's body was found in a field, close to the road, off County Road 1181, Ruggles Township in rural Ashland County, Ohio.[2][4]

Evidence found at the scene of the crime suggests that Mihaljevic's body was probably dumped there shortly after her abduction. 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.[5] 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.[6] Blood believed to be that of Mihaljevic was found in her underwear, indicating she may have been raped or sexually abused.[5] Mitochondrial DNA from the crime scene was sampled, which may be used in the future to compare to suspects.[7][8]


The Bay Village Police and the FBI 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. 20,000 interviews have taken place during the investigation.[7] This was described to be the biggest search in Ohio since the 1951 disappearance of Beverly Potts.[9]

In November 2006, it was revealed that several other young girls had received phone calls similar to the ones Mihaljevic received in the weeks prior to her abduction. The unknown male caller claimed that he worked with the girl’s mother and wanted help buying a present to celebrate her promotion. The girls who received these calls lived in North Olmsted, a suburb near Bay Village; some had unlisted phone numbers.[7] This new information was considered significant by investigators.[10] Mihaljevic and the others who received such calls had all visited the local Lake Erie Nature and Science Center, which had a visitors' logbook by the front door. The girls may have signed the book and added personal information including phone numbers and addresses.[7]

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.[10]

In late 2013, investigator Phil Torsney returned from retirement to work on the case, to which he had been originally assigned after the murder.[11] Torsney is well known for aiding in the capture of Whitey Bulger, who was a long-time member of the FBI Top Ten Most Wanted.[12] Torsney stated that he believed that Mihaljevic was transported out of Bay Village after she was kidnapped, as the town is "too dense, too close-knit, to be a likely place to commit murder." However, he stated that the murder likely took place in Ashland County, which the murderer was probably familiar with.[7]

The FBI announced in March 2014 that a $25,000 reward is available to anyone who can provide information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the killer of Mihaljevic.[13] In October, it was increased to $27,000.[14]

In 2016, it was discovered that a blanket and curtain located near Mihaljevic's body had hairs on them similar to the Mihaljevics' dog. They were possibly used to conceal the victim's body before she was left in the field.[15]

In 2018, investigators were also following a potential link between identity thief Robert Ivan Nichols (alias Joseph Newton Chandler III) and the murder of Mihaljevic.[16][17] In 2019, authorities stated that they have extensively investigated all suspects in the case and feel that if her killer were identified, he would likely be a part of their list.

2021 case updateEdit

On the 31st anniversary of the discovery of Mihaljevic's remains, a major development in the case was announced. A publicly unidentified man, age 64, was implicated by a former girlfriend, with whom he was involved at the time of the kidnapping and murder. She alleged that he was uncharacteristically absent from their residence, located in close proximity to the abduction site, when the victim disappeared. The man called her late that evening, inquiring if she had seen media releases about the abduction. He was employed in the same city, and his niece was in the same grade as Mihaljevic.

Police interviews with the man included "suspicious statements", including the possibility he had met Amy Mihaljevic's mother, Margaret, before. His DNA was obtained without protest, and he later failed a polygraph test. A warrant to search a storage facility led to authorities confiscating certain items of interest.

Additionally, the two individuals who witnessed the yet-to-be-identified kidnapper lead Mihaljevic into his vehicle identified the potential suspect out of line-ups conducted in May 2020. The vehicle itself was consistent with what the man drove at the time, including the fact that its carpeting was similar in coloration to the fibers on Mihaljevic's body. A vehicle of the same make and model had been observed near the body's dumpsite on February 8, 1990, when the victim's body was recovered along a roadside.[1]


In response to her daughter's death, Mihaljevic's mother, Margaret McNulty, co-founded a foundation to protect children from such situations that happened to Amy. McNulty also suffered from lupus after the death of Amy, resulting in her death at age 54 in 2001.[2]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Noll, Scott (February 8, 2021). "EXCLUSIVE: Court documents reveal startling new developments in Amy Mihaljevic murder investigation". WEWS. ABC. Archived from the original on February 10, 2021. Retrieved February 10, 2021.
  2. ^ a b c "Mom of slain girl found dead in Vegas". Post-Tribune. October 2, 2001. Archived from the original on June 29, 2014. Retrieved May 15, 2014.(subscription required)
  3. ^ Renner, James (2008). "The FBI Finally Has A Top Suspect In The Amy Mihaljevic Murder. We Got To Him First". Cleveland Scene. Archived from the original on February 22, 2012. Retrieved November 18, 2009.
  4. ^ Larkin, Brent (June 24, 2007). "Still on the hunt for Amy's killer". The Plain Dealer. Retrieved July 2, 2008.
  5. ^ a b "The Murder of Amy Mihaljevic (documentary)". Crime Stoppers. 2012.
  6. ^ Reprint of Cleveland Scene July 20, 2005[permanent dead link], a reprint of a story originally at "Cleveland Scene". Archived from the original on February 11, 2015. Retrieved April 12, 2006.. Accessed November 29, 2008.
  7. ^ a b c d e Trickey, Erick (September 2014). "Justice Unfinished". Archived from the original on April 16, 2015. Retrieved September 25, 2014.
  8. ^ Sheil, Bill (February 8, 2019). "Renewed push to find person who killed Amy Mihaljevic". Fox 8 Cleveland. Archived from the original on February 12, 2019. Retrieved November 17, 2019.
  9. ^ Larkin, Brent (September 29, 2012). "Investigators still chasing Amy Mihaljevic's killer: Brent Larkin". Northeast Ohio Media Group. Archived from the original on October 6, 2014. Retrieved September 25, 2014.
  10. ^ a b Oslin, Irv (February 8, 2007). "Ashland County's murder mystery: Author James Renner explores killing of Amy Mihaljevic". Ashland, Ohio: Times-Gazette. Archived from the original on February 8, 2009. Retrieved November 29, 2008.
  11. ^ Dissell, Rachel (November 4, 2013). "Retired FBI agent Phil Torsney returns to tackle unsolved murder of Amy Mihaljevic". The Plain Dealer. Archived from the original on September 22, 2014. Retrieved September 25, 2014.
  12. ^ "We Will Catch Amy Mihaljevic's Murderer". NBC. WKYC News. May 12, 2014. Archived from the original on September 5, 2014. Retrieved September 2, 2014.
  13. ^ The Plain Dealer, March 2014
  14. ^ Shaffer, Cory (October 27, 2014). "Amy Mihaljevic investigation shifts to mother's acquaintances 25 years later". Archived from the original on December 6, 2018. Retrieved December 17, 2018.
  15. ^ Huffman, William (August 8, 2018). "Picture's of the New Evidence Released in 2016; Plus New Audio Clip". Who Killed Amy Mihaljevic?. Archived from the original on October 13, 2018. Retrieved October 12, 2018.
  16. ^ "Is ID Thief Robert Nichols Connected to the 1989 Ohio Murder of 10-Year-Old?". Investigation Discovery. Archived from the original on November 30, 2019. Retrieved December 5, 2019.
  17. ^ "Bay Village police will look to see if mystery man might have any connection to Amy Mihaljevic case". June 22, 2018. Archived from the original on May 11, 2019. Retrieved December 5, 2019.

Further readingEdit

  • 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 978-1-59851-019-5.
  • Ressler, Robert; Schactman, Tom (1992). Whoever Fights Monsters: My Twenty Years Hunting Serial Killers for the FBI. St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-95044-6

External linksEdit