Most criminals featured on America's Most Wanted try their best to cover their tracks and head for the hills, hoping never to be seen or heard of again.
Then there’s the other kind: those who get a sick kind of pleasure from dancing with danger and taunting the police to just try and catch them.
One such criminal is the killer of 8-year-old April Tinsley. April’s body was discovered in her home town of Fort Wayne, Ind. after she had been missing for three days in 1988.
Although the coroner was able to determine the attacker suffocated April after she was raped, there was very little insight into who the attacker was.
Since 1990, someone claiming to be the killer has been leaving cryptic messages around town, threatening other children that he will strike again.
“Experts at the FBI say that this killer is a risk-taker who enjoys challenges,” says AMW producer Jenna Griffiths, who spent months digging into the case. “By leaving notes he is reliving the crime over and over again.”
The author’s letters were written in crayon, and full of spelling and grammatical errors. “I am the same person an Rape an kill Aproil tinsley here is a present foR yo you are my next vitem..,” he wrote.
“Cops think that he is purposely misspelling words to disguise his intelligence and handwriting,” Jenna says.
According to police, the “presents” referred to in the note have included used condoms and several photographs of the unknown killer, naked from the waist down.
“I couldn’t believe that a killer would taunt police the way this killer did,” Jenna said. “He literally gave police pictures of himself and his own DNA.” You can see photos of the clues in the case file at AMW.com.
“Knowing that we are helping families helps me work on such disturbing cases. This case is more than 20 years old. The family and law enforcement didn’t have any other options,” Jenna said.
This Saturday night, we have an exclusive update to the story, and you'll hear from both April’s mother and the original detective who worked the case more than 20 years ago.
The Hidden Threat of Identity Theft
Most of us might not realize how easy it can be for a thief to get a hold of our identities. But this silent crime can affect any one of us. Can you be sure that your identity is safe? And if your personal information has been compromised, do you know what to do to regain control of your life? This week at the AMW Safety Center, we've got the tips you need to make sure you stay on guard against identity thieves.
Justice: Signed, Sealed, Delivered
Every month, AMW receives hundreds of letters from viewers seeking answers about their missing loved ones.
This weekend, we’re launching a brand new feature that will finally help the loved ones of the missing have their voices heard by millions.
“John Walsh was touched by the overwhelming number of missing adults,” says AMW producer Peter Gillespie, who produced the latest edition of the “My Story” segments. “He wanted us to do something about it, so we all got together and came up with an idea.”
John Walsh brought in one of his longtime advisors to lead the team: Cheri Nolan, a former Deputy Assistant Attorney General who spent years at America’s Most Wanted before joining the U.S. Department of Justice. Cheri brings to AMW a unique background and skill set; she’s spent more than 20 years working on behalf of victims of crime and their families.
“For the first time ever, families of the long-term missing – whether adults or children – will make their voices heard to the whole country,” Cheri said.
The driving force behind My Story, which has been a part of AMW.com for years, is that the victims’ families can tell their stories in their own words.
“We thought people could make their own videos and send them to us. We’ll put it on AMW.com, and we'll make some of them a part of the show,” says Peter. “The timing just seemed right.”
Since there are often aren’t many clues, missing persons cases are often difficult for television viewers to help solve.
“When someone goes missing, it’s all just a big mystery. It’s not cut and dried. Where are they?” Peter asked. “In the past, AMW producers have had very few options for helping a missing person's family. This gives us a chance to give these families hope.”
In a My Story video, the missing person’s loved ones can interview themselves. Once that video arrives at AMW, we'll do the rest.
The ones that make it to the television show will be the ones that come from the heart.
“We’re looking for emotion. We want to see the love the family had for this person and why they mean so much to them,” Peter says. “The emotional impact on the family and how it mobilizes them is the thing that helps turn a lot of these cases around.”
You can see the television premiere of the first My Story videos this Saturday. For families who need some help, it only takes one tip to prove that justice is just a letter -- or video -- away.
AMERICA'S MOST WANTED IS 22 SEASONS STRONG
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