It was an October afternoon in Bay Village, Ohio in 1989. School had been back in session for a couple of months, and it was just a few more days till Halloween. It was Friday and school had just let out for the weekend. Ten year old, Amy Mihaljevic was walking after school, she wasn't heading home though. Her mother had just got a full time position at her job, and a man claiming to be her mom's boss had called the house, telling her that her mom had just got a promotion at work, and that he would like to take her to get her mom a gift as a surprise.
She was to meet him at the Bay Square Shopping Center, where many other kids would go to hang out after school. She had told a friend what she was doing as they walked, and then a few other kids witnessed her leave with the man depicted below in the wanted poster. No one ever saw her alive again.
When she didn't come home that night, her mother was frantic and reported her missing. There was a major outcry to the media, and everyone in Ohio was looking for her. The police were investigating it as a kidnapping at this time, and there was hope that there would be a ransom made. But that never happened.
Two months later on February 8, 1990, her body was found in a field, off Country Road 1181. The evidence suggested that she was murdered shorty after the abduction. There was evidence of a rape too, and Mitochondrial DNA was collected.
The killer also kept some souvenirs, keeping her horse riding boots, her denim backpack, a folder that had "Buick, Best in Class" written on the front clasp, and turquoise earrings that were in the shape of horseheads.
The FBI joined the investigation almost from the beginning. Many suspects have been brought it for lie detector tests, and there has been over 20,000 interviews. Still to this day there has been no arrests.
In November of 2006, it was revealed to the public that other girls in the area at the time had also gotten the same call, from a man claiming to be the boss of their mother, wanting to take them to help buy them a gift. It's so gut wrenching that this person would play on the child's love for their parents in order to abduct them. The girls all had two things in common. They all looked similar, and they all had visited the Lake Erie Nature and Science Center. There was a logbook there, where they had all left their numbers and addresses.
That has to be the biggest break of the case, and why law enforcement waited 17 years is beyond me. I understand they didn't want to get girls claiming they were called to muddy up the connection, but once the connection was made it should have been made public. Who ever called these girls, and in Amy's case murdered her, has some connection to the Lake Erie Nature and Science Center. In my opinion the perpetrator probably worked there to some extent. Tracking down employees 17 years later or the possible leads they missed, just makes Law Enforcement's job that much harder. I understand that they were probably looking at employees unbeknownst to the public, but I'm sure some fell through the cracks.
Sadly Amy's mother past away in 2001 from Lupus, never seeing justice for her daughter.
Investigative Journalist James Renner, gave the case some new life, and is still working this case on his free time to this day. He grew up in the area at the same time and it had always bothered him that this case was unsolved. He found that there was a science teacher that had worked nearby the area. The teacher wasn't looked at much at the time because he had claimed to never have been to the Science Center. The weird thing about this teacher is once things started to heat up on him, he quit his job as a teacher and moved to Florida. The odd part is that he was only one year away from receiving a pension.
The teacher who is suspected by James Renner is named Dean Runkle. I won't post a picture of the guy, but you can google him, and see for yourself. He does resemble the sketch. I would be interested to know if any of the kids that witnessed Amy leave with the perpetrator have looked at Dean Runkle's picture.
Dean Runkle has been described by some of his students to be a pervert, that would flirt with the girls in class. He would also have inappropriate relationships with students, having them over at his house. Many of his students have also reported that he would give them rides to the Science Center, and that he was a volunteer there, at around that time when girls were getting calls. Which put should have put him as a suspect, since he lied about working there.His students claimed he was volunteering there because he was science teacher. Why would he lie to the police? James Renner asked him in a confrontation, to which he replied if he had volunteered there, he hadn't remembered. How does someone forget something like that? It's so strange.
I understand that profilers are thinking who ever murdered Amy may have murdered before and will probably repeat, but I'm not so sure. It looks like she was killed because she fought back, not wanting to be raped and was stabbed. I think that the perpetrator was a sexual predator, that might have not murdered before, and it escalated. It's very possible that James Renner is right. Dean Runkle should be interviewed as a person of interest by the police at the very least.
I believe this case is solvable, and should have been solved by now. It's been almost thirty years now, and justice might slip away if arrests aren't made soon. Scientist are still learning new things about Mitochondrial DNA, and the technology will be here soon, that could possibly put this case together. I do think this case will be solved, and I have faith that it will be soon. My heart goes out to the family.
If you know something or think you know something that will solve this case please report it. There is a reward of $60k.
Bay Village Police: 216-871-1234 or FBI: 216-522-1600