Wayne reports John D. Miller 59, has been charged with murder, confinement and child molesting.
Around 3 p.m. on April 1, 1988, Good Friday, Tinsley went missing while walking home from a friend's house.
The suspect told police he disposed of her body in a ditch the following day. The DNA matched that found on April's body, and police say testing of evidence samples led them to Miller, who was placed under surveillance earlier this month.
"I kill 8 year old April M Tinsley", the barn read, according to a recently filed police affidavit.
In 2004, police were sent to three locations - the 1600 block of Benham Drive in Fort Wayne, Witmer and Roth roads in Grabill, and the 12900 block of Indiana Street in Grabill - where they recovered a used condom at each location.
Despite finding DNA evidence on April's underwear during the initial investigation, police failed to narrow down a suspect. He answered "April Tinsley", before admitting the crime to investigators, according to court documents.
The new science has led to a run of cold case arrests, including the prosecution of alleged Golden State Killer Joseph James DeAngelo and an arrest in the 1992 murder of Pennsylvania schoolteacher Christy Mirack.
DNA from Miller's garbage matched DNA from the crime scene and from the taunts, and when police brought him in for questioning, he confessed to the disturbing killing, the affidavit states.
The killer had sexually assaulted the eight-year-old, leaving behind salvageable pieces of DNA evidence.
A recent search of Miller's rubbish helped police make a DNA match.
During the interview with police, Miller at first said, "I can't", when asked to explain what happened to Tinsley. The forensic exam also found DNA from an unknown male person in the girl's underwear, the affidavit said. He also had found one of her shoes in his vehicle, and he threw that out the auto window along the ditch as he drove by.
"It was like a gash in the community's heart", he told The Journal Gazette.
"Hi honey. I been watching you", one note released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation read.
Miller was arrested on suspicion of killing April Tinsley Sunday after he was traced using DNA samples uploaded to public databases.
Accused killer Miller and a police depiction of the suspect at the time.
On July 6, police secretly collected trash from Miller's residence to see if they could find any items that contained his DNA. He allegedly admitted to police he abducted Tinsley, took her back to his trailer, and raped her.
He reportedly told police he choked her to death so that she would not report him to the police.
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