FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT)- Emotions ran high in a packed Allen County courtroom Friday as John D. Miller was sentenced to 80 years in prison for the rape and murder of 8-year-old April Tinsley.
The sentence was in line with a plea agreement. Miller pleaded guilty to murder and child molestation earlier this month.
Miller took Tinsley from her Williams Street neighborhood back in 1988. Her body was found in a Spencerville ditch a few days later.
Back in July, Miller was arrested at his trailer in Grabill after DNA found in used condoms in his trash was matched to DNA found in April's underwear, and to DNA found over the years.
April's family members took turns giving statements in court Friday about how the case has changed their lives. Two cousins said their childhoods were never the same, and they raised their children in a sheltered world, fearing for their safety.
April's mother, Janet Tinsley, said she still remembers the day like it was yesterday, and said April's death deeply affected her younger brother, who was two at the time.
After the sentencing, Tinsley said they're glad they're finally seeing closure, but nothing can bring April back and the family feels numb right now.
Janet Tinsley also said the family is working on pushing what she called, "April's Law."
Allen County Prosecutor, Karen Richards, was also emotional giving a statement in court. Richards paid tribute to the two generations of detectives that have worked the case, noting three who have carried April's picture in their pockets.
Richards also spoke on why the death penalty was not an option in this case saying, in some cases, it can take up to 30 years for someone to be executed.
She noted 59-year-old Miller's failing health and said, "He won't live another 30 years," adding he will die in prison.
Miller's defense attorney read a statement in court from Miller saying he feels deeply sorry for what he did to April and the community. He said Miller wishes it had never happened.
Tinsley's 30 year old murder coming to a close marks one of Judge John Surbeck's last cases.