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Allen County Prosecutor Karen Richards addresses members of the media during a press conference regarding April Tinsley at the Rousseau Center in Fort Wayne, Ind., Tuesday, July 17, 2018. Authorities arrested 59-year-old John D. Miller of Grabill on Sunday on preliminary murder, child molesting and criminal confinement charges in April Marie Tinsley's 1988 slaying. (Photo: Mike Moore/The Journal-Gazette via AP)

The abduction, rape and murder of an Indiana girl in 1988 was solved by genetic genealogy this week, according to authorities.

The arrest of John D. Miller, 59, for the slaying of 8-year-old April Tinsley three decades ago was produced by analysis of DNA evidence from the crime scene, and subsequent family matching through public databases like GEDmatch, according to Allen County Prosecutor Karen Richards.

The genealogical breakthrough in this case was made through Parabon Nanolabs, a phenotyping company which has produced a run of arrests in high-profile cold cases since announcing their genealogy program in May.

However, authorities had been given the surname “Miller” from a Y-DNA database search as of four years ago. The specifics of the Parabon analysis—and the differences leading specifically to John D. Miller—have not yet been explained by authorities.

This booking photo released by the Fort Wayne, Ind., Police Department shows John D. Miller, arrested Sunday, July 15, 2018, who arrested on preliminary murder, child molesting and criminal confinement charges in April Marie Tinsley's slaying. The Fort Wayne girl's body was found in a ditch three days after her April 1988 abduction about 20 miles away. (Photo: Fort Wayne Police/The Journal-Gazette via AP)

Miller will make a court appearance on the formal charges of murder, child molesting and criminal confinement of a victim under 14 who is not the defendant’s child on Thursday, according to Indiana court records.

Tinsley disappeared after leaving her Fort Wayne home on April 1, 1988. Her body was found in a ditch three days later, about 20 miles away. The Fort Wayne Police detective contracted the DNA work from Parabon on May 11, just three days after the company announced its genealogy program.

According to the probable cause affidavit, Parabon narrowed down the DNA to two brothers: Miller and a person only identified as J.P.M. Surveillance of Miller began on July 2. The covert trash pull was made on July 6.

Miller’s DNA, taken from used condoms taken from his trash, was found to match samples taken from Tinsley’s underwear, according to the Indiana State Police laboratory findings released on July 9. It also matched profiles taken from three used condoms found in the local area—each of which included a note stating the person who had left them was responsible for the Tinsley murder.

When Miller was about to be arrested by police, he reportedly was asked if he had any idea why the officers wanted to talk with him, and he answered: “April Tinsley.” He also admitted to some other detailed methods of his crime, including strangulation.

The case is the fifth in recent months for Parabon, which offered genealogical services to its clients who had used the phenotyping services in wake of the high-profile arrest of Joseph James DeAngelo, the accused Golden State Killer, in California.

In this March 30, 2018, file photo, a photo of April Tinsley was placed in the garden that was dedicated in her honor near where she disappeared in Fort Wayne, Ind. April 1 marked the 30th anniversary of her death. Police on Sunday, July 15, 2018, arrested John Miller, of Grabill, Ind., in connection to her death. Authorities say Miller agreed to speak with police in Fort Wayne and made incriminating statements about abducting, assaulting and killing Tinsley. An affidavit released by the Allen County prosecutor says investigators have DNA evidence linking Miller to the girl. (Photo: Michelle Davies/The Journal-Gazette via AP)

The other Parabon genealogical breakthroughs:

  • The arrest of Gary C. Hartman in the 1986 murder of Michella Welch in Tacoma, Wash.
  • The capture of Raymond “DJ Freez” Rowe, in the 1992 killing of Christy Mirack, a young schoolteacher, in Lancaster, Pa.
  • Murder and related charges against James Otto Earhart in the murder of real estate agent Virginia Freeman, in Brazos County, Tex., in 1981.
  • The arrest of William Earl Talbott on charges related to the brutal slayings of Jay Cook and Tany Van Cuylenborg, a young couple from British Columbia, in Everett, Wash., in 1987.

Other high-profile genealogy breakthroughs have been produced by other groups, including the DNA Doe Project, which has focused on high-profile unidentified deceased persons like the Buck Skin Girl and Joseph Newton Chandler III, two Ohio’s most notorious cold cases. Colleen Fitzpatrick, one of the founders of the DNA Doe Project, was the genealogist who had given Fort Wayne Police the surname “Miller” in 2014, she told Forensic Magazine.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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