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'America's Most Wanted' tapes April Tinsley segment

Sex toy found near her body in 1988, police reveal

April
This sex toy was found 20 feet to 25 feet from April Marie Tinsley's body in 1988, Fort Wayne police said Monday. Police are releasing this photo in the hopes that someone might recall seeing it or selling it.

FORT WAYNE -- The production crew and host of the TV show America's Most Wanted were in Fort Wayne on Monday, taping an episode to air Friday that revisits the April Marie Tinsley killing.

Tinsley, an 8-year-old Fort Wayne girl, was abducted, raped and killed in 1988.

Her body was dumped in DeKalb County, where it was found near a creek by a jogger four days after her disappearance.

In the ensuing years, police have allowed bits and pieces of evidence to trickle out to the public, and Monday investigators shared new information with the media.

A sex toy was found about 20 feet or 25 feet from Tinsley's body the day it was discovered.

This sex toy – found in a box inside a plastic Sears bag – is a six- to eight-inch-long hand-crank sex toy, according to Fort Wayne Police crime scene technician Chris Meihls.

The sex toy has a girth of about three to four inches. Police do not know if the sex toy was used in the rape of Tinsley and it appears darker than when it was found because of testing.

Meihls said the toy was unusual and that, by releasing information and a photo of it, someone might recognize who it belonged to or remember selling it to someone.

He also said whoever owned the sex toy might be a collector of such objects.

Meihls was part of a panel that filmed a short scene for America's Most Wanted with host John Walsh, whose son was kidnapped and killed 27 years ago.

America's Most Wanted focused on Tinsley twice in 2009 and is doing so again partly because Walsh said the case has disturbed him for several years.

Other information so far released about the case:

  • Someone scrawled writing on a barn in 1990 indicating he was Tinsley's killer.
  • In 2004, notes left on young girls' bicycles in northeast Fort Wayne and northeast Allen County contained the same writing and similar messages.
  • Whoever left those notes also left used condoms containing DNA that matches DNA found with Tinsley's body.
  • A Polaroid showing the legs and thighs of a man masturbating was also left with one of those notes. Police believe the man could now be in his 50s or 60s with a medium build, white and about 185 to 190 pounds.
  • The initial lead detective on the case said one theory is that Tinsley was abducted by two men.
  • Police are focused on 81 possible suspects. A dozen of those suspects have refused to give DNA. Some are sex offenders who were convicted of their crime before law mandated that people convicted of felonies give DNA to law enforcement.
Police on Monday emphasized that any DNA collected would only be used for this case and not compared to other cases or stored in a database.

Anyone with information about who may have killed Tinsley is asked to call 866-60A-PRIL or 866-602-7745. They can also email aprilinfo@ci.ft-wayne.in.us.

Also, people can call America's Most Wanted at 800-CRIME-TV or report a tip through the show's website at www.amw.com.

Walsh told the cameras during taping of the show that all tips can remain anonymous.

jeffwiehe@jg.net

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