Monday, March 17, 2014

FBI Releases New Video



Here's a new video from the FBI.

There are some new pics of Amy with her family here. This is part of a push to get Amy's story out across the country. Hopefully it will kick up some new leads.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Al Matlock is dead.


Al Matlock was the deadbeat from Ashland who once bragged about killing Amy (though, he was probably full of b.s.). On the run from the law for other crimes, he was rumored to have lived in Florida. A relative contacted me yesterday, with this link.

Apparently, Al died last June (due to drug overdose), in Arizona.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

What Happens When We Catch Amy's Killer?

In Ohio this week, the state executed a man using an untested combination of drugs. We tortured a man to death this week. The first month of 2014.

I am a staunch opponent of the death penalty. It is not a deterrent. Never has been. And I don't believe we deserve the responsibility of deciding who lives and who dies in a society.

Someone asked me today if I would support the death penalty for the man who killed Amy Mihaljevic, after having spent so long tracking him down, knowing he managed to remain free for 25 years. I had to think about it.

But, no. No, I would not want to see this man put to death.

In fact, if he were willing to come forward and own up to his mistake I would be the first to contribute to his defense.

Why?

Because I truly think this was a mistake. I don't believe he knew what he was doing when he met with Amy that day. I don't think he knew it would lead to an abduction. And I doubt murder even entered his mind... until it was too late. I believe this was the only time he's killed.

That said, while I would offer help, it would come with a condition: that he admit what he did. And that he ask to remain in prison for at least the length of time he remained free-- 25 years.

At this point, what we hope for is closure. An answer for this deed. That is the only good that can come from it now. And the Mihaljevics and Bay Village deserve as much closure as this man can give them. Now.

If he waits until Torsney and the Bay Village Police (who are actively working the case daily, again) knock on his door, any chance he has for a deal is over.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The State of the Case...

So. Where are we with this case? Who do I think killed Amy Mihaljevic? Who are the police looking at?

I don't know much about the police side of the investigation, other than that they are asking for ANY and ALL information related to Amy Mihaljevic and the men who you may suspect abducted her.

Just because I have written so much about Vern Hartenburg doesn't mean I am saying he's the guy or even the current number 1 suspect. I share the names of these individuals in the hopes that someone scanning the internet will find the articles and share what info they have with the police. Or me, if they are reluctant to go to law enforcement. I only name potential suspects if they have a history of sexual offenses and/or violence against women. And only if I know they are someone the Bay Village Police have considered and are interested in.

Please note the tab on the left side of this page which links to a page of suspects. You can learn more about each of them, there.

The short list includes former teacher Dean Runkle (who ran away to Key West when the state of Ohio demanded all teachers be fingerprinted); Dentist Greg Kapela (whose daughter rode horses with Amy at Holly Hill); Dentist Frank Vokoun (who fled to Costa Rice to avoid some unconnected criminal charges); CPA Robert Jones (who liked to stake out elementary schools); Jerry Dozier (who has a history of rape and kidnapping and changed his name after getting out of prison); and Bay Village playboy Kurt Van Gunten (who lived across from the plaza and has a history of alarming behavior toward young women).

If you suspect you know who did this, or have any info on these gentlemen above, please do not hesitate to contact Bay Village PD 440-871-1234.

Friday, November 15, 2013

That Time I Was Nearly Taken...

Something happened when I was 12 that I don't talk about too much. I've mentioned it at library talks when discussing the Amy Mihaljevic case but I left it out of the book because I didn't want people thinking that it was the reason I got interested in her mystery. The truth is, when this happened, I was already very interested in Amy's case (and spending time looking for her killer in area malls).

Here's what happened. When I was 12, a man tried to abduct me from the Metroparks. This happened at the park on Memphis Road, by the kiddie park. At the time, my mother was living with my aunt in an apartment across the street. One day (I think this was the fall of 1990, though it could have been as late as early summer, 1991) I walked across the road to explore the park.

I noticed a well-dressed man with dark hair standing by the bathrooms there, touching himself. He looked a little like Leonard Nimoy, I thought. I walked on, down a path, into the woods. The man followed. I started to jog. He jogged after. I began to run. He ran, too.

At the time, the path wound through the woods away from the road. There was no where to go and no one else around. So I ran off the path, through the woods and found myself on a railroad track. I started running down the track, back toward the road. But the man was really close now, and gaining. And the rail line was now running between two sheer walls of rock. There was no where to go and he would definitely catch up with me.

I did the only thing I could. I prayed and scaled the rock wall, knowing if I slipped even once, he'd have me. But I didn't slip. And when I reached the top, I looked down. He was standing just below me, a look of pure hatred on his face. I gave him the finger and then ran back to the apartments.

By the time the rangers got there, he was gone.

I've been trying to find the report of the incident through the Metroparks but they say they don't have it. I'm hoping by sharing this story here someone might see it and remember coming to speak to me that day.

When I told this story to a ranger who stopped by a book signing, he said I should look into Vern Hartenburg. And damn if he doesn't look just like the guy who chased me when I was 12. Oh, and that was the exact same location he was arrested for sexual misconduct, in 2011.

Vern, for his part, says he doesn't remember me, though he readily admits to be a sex addict. He also admits he went crazy around the time Amy was abducted. Says it was because he was sexually abused as a kid. I don't know if it's all just coincidence or if there's something more to this thing. But Hartenburg is a sick man and what we've learned so far is only the tip of the iceberg.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Former Metroparks Executive Director, Vern Hartenburg, is Subject of Multiple Tips in Amy Mihaljevic Murder Case.



I am asking your help in finding further information about former Metroparks director, Vern Hartenburg.

Vern was arrested in the area of the reservation near Memphis Kiddie Park a couple years ago for exposing himself to an undercover ranger while in proximity to children. He admitted at the time that he was a sex addict, seeking treatment.

Vern began working for the park system in 1989 and was committed to a mental institution in November of that year.

***UPDATE***
Bay Village Police were handed a 3-inch thick file on Hartenburg two years ago.

In 2011, Plain Dealer editor Chris Quinn got the information about Vern's mental breakdown in the weeks following Amy's abduction but chose not to publish it.

Hennepin, Minnesota park police called Cleveland Metroparks when they learned they had hired Hartenburg, in 1989, and warned officials there that he was "a sicko." Hartenburg was abruptly fired from his job as director there, in December 1988.

Hartenburg was caught exposing himself at a park on the lakefront on at least one occasion and let go by an officer he knew personally, in order to avoid embarasment, before he was ultimately caught.

One of the first phone calls Bay Village police received this morning was about Vern Hartenburg.

A former employee of the Metroparks also sent me this statement today:

I worked for Cleveland Metroparks during the last several years of Vern's tenure there. Around 2008, one evening I went to an adult store on Lorain Ave that is mostly frequented by gay men. It was called Body Language at the time, I think. Anyway, I walked in and saw Vern in there. He knew who I was from work. He gave me an up and down look and then made eye contact like he was cruising me. It creeped me out enough that I reported it to my supervisor the next day -- I told her I wanted someone to know in case he tried to fire me or something. I knew he was married and probably wouldn't like that someone saw him looking at gay porn in an adult store. Luckily, nothing ever came of it.
Vern repeatedly refused [to discuss adopting rules against discrimination based on sexual orientation], saying that would never happen as long as he was executive director. He was a bible banger, so I found it so hypocritical that he'd refuse to protect gay workers from discrimination while he frequented a gay establishment on his own time.

Hartenburg attended Bay Presbyterian, where the Mihaljevics were members.

Hartenburg has also worked for parks around Ann Arbor, Michigan and Evansville, Indiana.

I can personally tell you, whether Vern Hartenburg had anything to do with Amy's case or not, this is just the tip of the iceberg with this guy. For reporters following this story, records of employees of the Metroparks are public record in the state of Ohio.

Please send further information to me, here: jameswrenner@gmail.com

Monday, November 04, 2013

The Hunt is On!


The Plain Dealer revealed today what has been rumored for the last couple weeks: the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor has hired a retired FBI agent to track down Amy's killer.

Point of fact: the FBI agent is Phil Torsney, who helped bring in notorious mob boss Whitey Bulger.

Torsney is no stranger to Cleveland, having worked out of the local office for many years.

Another tidbit from the article: Lt. Detective Mark Spaetzel will become the new chief of Bay Village police.

Congrats, Mark! Good luck Torsney!