By Jeff Gallatin
Detective Lt. Mark Spaetzel of the Bay Village Police Department indicated that judging by tips received after two recent showings of a “Crime Stoppers” TV episode about the 1989 abduction and murder of Amy Mihaljevic, public interest in solving the case remains high.
“We’ve received between 60 to 70 tips since the two airings of the show,” Spaetzel said. “I’ve already checked on some of the leads and eliminated a few of them. We’re going to continue to check on them and other information as well.”
Both showings were timed to be near the anniversary of when the 10-year-old Mihaljevic was taken from the Bay Square Shopping Center the afternoon of Oct. 27, 1989. The event triggered national attention and a massive investigation and search for the young girl. Her body was found Feb. 8 near County Road 1181 in rural Ashland County. Police have continued to investigate the case to this day. Spaetzel, a young patrol officer at the time, spoke at Mihaljevic’s school on Oct. 27, before the girl was abducted. Now, as the detective bureau commander, he continues to lead the investigation. A poster of Mihaljevic remains posted in the bureau office.
Spaetzel said the two showings helped trigger the latest round of tips from the public.
“People have always showed interest in this case,” he said. “I’ve always said the public will help solve the case by providing information which will help lead us to who did it.”
He said none of the tips stand out at this point.
“Some were old information or are info which people let us know before but didn’t know how it turned out,” he said. “Some are things which we’ve been able to eliminate at this point. But still, you never know when you’re going to get the right piece of information which gets us to where we need to be or helps lead up to another piece of information which will make it add up for us.”
In addition to the two showings in Cleveland, Spaetzel said the “Crime Stoppers” episode aired in the Chicago, Los Angeles and Miami markets.
“Again, it’s that ‘you never know factor,'” he said.
Writer James Renner, who wrote a book about the case and also has written numerous articles for alternative newspapers about Mihaljevic’s kidnapping and murder, also recently announced plans to make a movie about it. Renner, who, prior to his writing for the different publications, worked in the film industry, has actively worked on trying to solve the case as well.
Spaetzel said however the information comes which helps crack the case, he’ll be glad to get it.
“If it helps get this solved, then I’m all for it,” he said. “That’s what we’re trying to do, is solve this and bring the killer in.”