Bill Huffman was in fifth grade at Rocky River’s Kensington Elementary School on Oct. 27, 1989, when 10-year-old Amy Mihaljevic was abducted from Bay Square Shopping Center, just one suburb away. “It was innocence lost,” says the independent journalist. Almost 30 years since her body was found in Ashland County, Huffman is re-examining the unsolved murder in Who Killed Amy Mihaljevic?, a new podcast seeking to reinvigorate public interest through interviews with FBI investigator Phil Torsney, Amy’s father and more. “Maybe [the podcast] triggers some sort of memory of the case,” he says. Here are four clues the podcast spotlights.
The Other Phone Calls
The murderer famously lured Mihaljevic to the strip mall by calling the fifth-grader when she was home alone. He offered to help find a gift for her mom, his supposed friend. But few know the perpetrator tried the same ruse on several young girls from North Olmsted first. “The killer honed his ‘skills’ on these girls,” says Huffman. “He could be from the background of one of [them].”
In 2016, investigators asked for help identifying an olive green curtain, found approximately 300 feet from Mihaljevic’s body in a field in Ruggles Township. The curtain appears to be handmade from a duvet cover or bedspread, and had traces of dog hair similar to Mihaljevic’s pet.
A complete DNA profile, which could be entered into the National Combined DNA Index System, was never recovered. But investigators do have mitochondrial DNA. They are “testing the DNA,” Huffman claims, hoping modern science can help solve Mihaljevic’s case. New DNA-testing innovations led to the arrest of the alleged Golden State Killer, among others, so investigators are encouraged. “[Police] want people to know they’re still working,” Huffman says. “It’s never been a cold case.”
The Unreliable Police Composite
The initial police sketch of the abductor depicted a wide-mouthed man with round glasses and side swept bangs. But investigators urge potential informants not to discount suspects based on the sketch alone. The killer could have been disguised and the eyewitness testimony from two 10-year-old witnesses, who saw Milhaljevic leave with who they assumed was her father, was deemed unreliable. “The authorities have told me ‘If it doesn’t look like that guy, it doesn’t mean we don’t want to talk to him,’” says Huffman.