By Jeff Gallatin
Law enforcement officials Nov. 13 introduced the new team investigating the nearly 25-year-old abduction and murder of 10-year-old Bay resident Amy Mihaljevic.
A special press conference was held at the Bay Village police station with the different agencies present. Recently appointed Bay Village police Chief Mark Spaetzel was there for his department. Spaetzel, who as a young officer spoke at Mihaljevic’s school about safety the day she was abducted, has continued to investigate the case as a detective through his years in the department.
Phil Torsney, a retired FBI officer who logged many hours in the investigation after Amy was abducted on Oct. 27 from the Bay Village Square shopping center, then later found dead Feb. 8 in a field in rural Ashland County, was introduced to the media. Torsney was recently hired by the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s office to come back and help work on the case.
FBI Special Agent Timothy J. Kolonick was also there representing his department and its continued investigation of the incident, which remains one of the most highly publicized abductions and murders in Greater Cleveland’s history.
Spaetzel indicated that all three agencies would be working closely together on the case, with his department being the one through which most of the information and new tips would be reviewed and checked out.
“As the tips come, we analyze them,” Spaetzel said. “Phil is here more for the big picture.”
Torsney said he isn’t much of a technical or technology person, indicating he lets experts in those areas handle that end of investigations.
“I’m more of a knock-on-doors type of guy,” he said.
Since being brought back to the case several weeks ago, he said he has contacted many people with potential information on the case, noting that many may have fresh perspectives or insights 24 years later.
Spaetzel said even with his appointment as chief, he will continue to work on the investigation at times, along with other members of his department. However, with only 23 officers in his department, he said it has limited time and resources devote to the case.
He reiterated previous comments that he has never regarded Mihaljevic’s abduction and murder as a cold case, because the
department has never stopped investigating it. He said the department receives new
tips every week, noting he had called about four of them the morning of the press conference.
Spaetzel said the many advances in forensic technology could well move the case forward. Joe Frolik, spokesman for the prosecutor’s office at the press conference, said many Northeast Ohio cold cases have been solved in recent years with the use of new police technology.
When asked whether he believed the murderer was still alive, Spaetzel said he had no way of knowing that, but indicated the investigation would continue. The law enforcement officials said they have spoken with Amy’s father, Mark, and that he remains supportive of their work.
Officials passed out a flier seeking information with a picture of Amy, background on the case and pictures of a turquoise horse earring, black ankle boots and a black leather binder, three items believed to have been with Amy when she was abducted and which were never recovered.
Anyone with any information on the case can call either the Bay Village Police Department at 440-871-1234 or the FBI Violent Crime Task Force at 216-522-1400.