What You Need To Know About Amy Mihaljevic's 1989 Murder
In November 2006, it was revealed that several other young girls in the nearby suburb of North Olmsted had received phone calls similar to the one Amy Mihaljevic got – from an unknown man who claimed to work with the girls’ mothers asking the girl to help him shop for a present for her.
BAY VILLAGE, OH — On October 27, 1989, 10-year-old Amy Mihaljevic was kidnapped, in broad daylight, from the Bay Square Shopping Center in Bay Village, Ohio.
Investigators later learned that the kidnapper had called Amy on the phone and lured her to the shopping plaza. He arranged to meet Amy on the pretext of buying a gift for her mother to celebrate a job promotion.
Police launched a massive search for Amy, and friends and family papered the Cleveland suburb with missing posters.
On February 8, 1990, a jogger found Amy’s body in a field off County Road 1181 in Ashland County. Investigators determined that Amy’s killer had most likely sexually assaulted her and fatally stabbed her before redressing her and then taking her body to the field.
Several items that Amy had had with her were missing, including her 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. Detectives speculated that her killer could have taken the items as “trophies.”
Amy’s body gave investigators some clues: 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.
Investigators also determined that, probably in order maintain control and avoid panicking Amy during the 50-minute drive, the kidnapper had allowed Amy to call her mother from a pay phone.
Over the years, the Bay Village police and the FBI pursued thousands of leads and interviewed hundreds of people. The case gained national attention, and Amy's story was told on TV shows including The Oprah Winfrey Show and America’s Most Wanted. But the case went cold — and almost 30 years later, Amy's killer has never been found.
Her murder is explored in depth in the new three-hour Investigation Discovery special Who Killed Amy Mihaljevic? The special is part of The Lake Erie Murders, a series that will take a detailed look at unsolved killings around the region. The show will also explore what happened to Amy’s parents, Mark and Margaret Mihaljevic, and follows journalists, police officers, and others who have investigated the case over the years.
In a chilling revelation, the ID special also features multiple women who experienced stories similar to Amy’s when they were also young girls. Some of the women have chosen to remain anonymous due to the fear that the abductor is still out there.
In November 2006, it was revealed that several other young girls in the nearby suburb of North Olmsted had received phone calls similar to the one Amy got – from an unknown man who claimed to work with the girls’ mothers asking the girl to help him shop for a present to celebrate her a job promotion.
All of the girls who received calls in 1989 had visited the Lake Erie Nature and Science Center, which had a logbook by the front door where guests signed in and filled in personal information.
The podcast was produced and hosted by Ohio reporter Bill Huffman, who grew up in the neighboring town of Rocky River and was about Amy's age when she was kidnapped. Huffman took a deep dive into the cold case by speaking to investigators, reporters, and others who are still searching for answers.
In 2013, retired FBI agent Phil Torsney, who helped bring Whitey Bulger to justice, was hired to help work on Amy's case.
In 2016, testing on fibers from an old curtain and bedsheet found near Amy’s body showed that the items had dog hairs similar to the Mihaljevic's dog, Jake. Her body was not wrapped in either when she was found, so investigators believe they came from the location where Amy was murdered.
Torsney also released images of the curtain, which appeared to be homemade, in the hopes that someone might recognize it.
Over the years, law enforcement and others have pointed to several suspects – including a former teacher in Key West, Florida; and a decorated World War II veteran who stole the identity of a young boy who died in 1958.
As Amy's friends and family continue to search for answers, investigators hope for a break in the case. They believe that someone out there could find Amy’s belongings in a forgotten attic or dresser drawer.
Watch the three-part special, The Lake Erie Murders: What Happened to Amy Mihaljevic? Sunday, December 30 at 9/8c on Investigation Discovery!