Amy Mihaljevic

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Amy Mihaljevic
1989 school portrait of Amy Mihaljevic
Born Amy Renee Mihaljevic
(1978-12-11)December 11, 1978
Little Rock, Arkansas, United States
Died October 27, 1989 (1989-10-28) (aged 10)
Bay Village, Ohio, United States
Cause of death
Head trauma, stabbing
Nationality American
Citizenship United States
Occupation Student
Known for Murder victim

Amy Renee Mihaljevic (December 11, 1978 – 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 raised national attention. The story of her unsolved kidnapping and murder was one of the first cases 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.[1]

Disappearance and murder[edit]

On October 27, 1989, Amy Mihaljevic was kidnapped from the Bay Square Shopping Center in Bay Village, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland.[1] 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.[2] On February 8, 1990, the girl's body was found in a field, close to the road, off of County Road 1181, Ruggles Township in rural Ashland County, Ohio.[1] [3]

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.[4] 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.[5] Blood believed to be that of Mihaljevic was found in her underwear, indicating she may have been raped or sexually abused.[4]

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.

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 University, Ohio.[6]

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 Olmsted, a suburb near Bay Village; some had unlisted phone numbers. This new information was considered significant by new movement on the case.[7][8]

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.[8]

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 Amy Mihaljevic.[9]


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. However, McNulty had suffered with alcoholism after the death of Amy, resulting in her death at age 54 in 2001.[1]

Mihaljevic's case was also discussed on The Oprah Winfrey Show.[1]

Dean Runkle[edit]

Wanted poster and FBI sketch of the man last seen with Amy before she vanished.

According to reporter James Renner, Dean Runkle is a possible prime suspect in the FBI 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 Erie 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) had 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. Since Runkle is exceptionally well liked as a teacher by many former students, Renner became the subject of strong criticism, unlike anything he had faced from naming previous suspects, when he named Runkle.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Mom of slain girl found dead in Vegas". Post-Tribune. 2 October 2001. Retrieved 15 May 2014. (subscription required)
  2. ^ a b Renner, James (2008-11-12). "Still on the hunt for Amy's killer". Cleveland Scene. Retrieved 2009-11-18. 
  3. ^ Larkin, Brent (2007-06-24). "Still on the hunt for Amy's killer". The Plain Dealer. Retrieved 2008-07-02. 
  4. ^ a b Renner, James (9 May 2007). "The Autopsy". Retrieved 13 March 2014. 
  5. ^ Reprint of Cleveland Scene July 20, 2005, a reprint of a story originally at Accessed November 29, 2008.
  6. ^ Amy Mihaljevic True Crime blog
  7. ^ Cold Case Gets Hot, by James Renner, November 8th, 2006, Cleveland Scene. Accessed November 29, 2008.
  8. ^ a b Oslin, Irv (February 8, 2007). "Ashland County's murder mystery: Author James Renner explores killing of Amy Mihaljevic". Ashland, Ohio: Times-Gazette. Retrieved November 29, 2008. 
  9. ^ The Plain Dealer, March 2014

Further reading[edit]

  • 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

External links[edit]