The following is an excerpt from my new book The Serial Killer's Apprentice, which will be released this fall, from the chapter titled: "Amy: Through the Looking Glass".
The most common question I’m asked, of course, is: “Who do you think did it?”
I don’t know. What’s frustrating is the number of men who had the means, motive, and opportunity to commit this crime.
The FBI have constructed a “Top 25” list. In December, 2006, Bay Village police asked about 6 individuals to give DNA samples. All but one man complied. In my opinion, as an investigative journalist who has spent 3 years researching the case, Amy’s killer is probably one of the following five suspects. Since they are uncharged, at this time, I am keeping their identities a secret.
Another rumor surrounding the case is that “an accountant is involved”. There seems to be some truth to this, as well. In 1989, a Cleveland police officer, who worked sex crimes, was given a tip by a prostitute-informant. The woman said that just before Amy was abducted, she had been contacted by one of her regular johns, who had asked her to find him a 10 or 11-year-old girl. He wanted to wrap her in plastic and defecate on her. Cleveland police detectives followed him for weeks—he lived in a house on the West Side with his mother and worked in the city as an accountant for a large firm. Before work, he often stopped by area middle schools and watched the girls walking to class. After the composite sketch was released to the public, the Accountant cut his hair very short. Sometimes, the detectives would sit next to him at McDonalds and watch him methodically eat his fries one-by-one, wiping the grease off his hands after each bite. They noticed that the Accountant kept his attic window open, odd behavior for such an anal man, especially in the middle of Winter. They wondered if Amy’s body was being kept there, the window left open for ventilation. It was enough for a search warrant, which a judge granted. But, to the detectives’ chagrin, the lead FBI agent assigned to the case refused to execute the warrant. We’ll never know what the Accountant was keeping in his attic—a fire destroyed the house a couple years later. The cause of the fire was ruled as “arson”. After Amy’s body was found, the Accountant went to Amy’s funeral service and gave Amy’s mother an envelope with $1,000 inside. He seemed to be taunting the police. “In my gut, I’ve always believed it was him,” says one retired detective, on the condition of anonymity.
A man with a shady past boarded his horse at Holly Hill, where Amy took lessons. He had a prior conviction for statutory rape in the state of Washington and was busted for fleeing the state and moving to Ohio, in 1989. His father was a court bailiff in Cuyahoga County, and whether that had anything to do with it or not, he got off lightly, for a fugitive. For a while, he drove truck, but has since retired on disability. Girls at Holly Hill and Senoj Stables, where he moved his horse, recall the Boarder as a pervert who liked to tickle little girls. One girl, now a grown woman, claims he once drove her to Ashland County when she was a young teen. He promised to let her ride a horse down there, but the girl made him turn around after he tried to kiss her. Another woman, who knew him at Senoj, says that she once bumped into him in line at the grocery store. She had to use her drivers license to write a check and feels he must have memorized her address to look up in a crisscross directory later, because that night he started calling her on the phone, asking her to meet him, even though she had never given him her number.
The Math Teacher
The brother of Amy’s riding instructor is the one man connected to Amy who knew each of the girls from North Olmsted who received creepy calls in October, 1989. He retired in 2006 and currently lives in Rocky River. He has no prior criminal record that I could find. But his self-evaluations contained inside his file at the school where he taught gave me goosebumps. In the 1980’s, he told his principal that he was going to copy his students’ personal contact information onto note cards that he could take home with him, explaining that this would allow him to reach their parents on a more regular basis.
I met with the Artist in February of 2008, after learning of his identity via an anonymous email. He lives on the West Side, off Lorain Avenue and agreed to meet me at a coffee shop around the corner from his house. The first thing I was struck by, was the uncanny resemblance he has to the composite sketch of Amy’s abductor. He must have noticed it, too, because he once took a poster of Amy’s killer, punched out the eyeballs, and wore it as a mask to work. In 1989, the Artist was employed by the MetroParks, but prior to that he taught art classes at Emerson Middle School in Lakewood and Bay Village High School. He readily admits that when he was a teacher, he invited female students back to his place, but maintains this only happened “after they graduated”. In the fall of 1989, he worked on a couple small projects at the Lake Erie Nature and Science Center. He also bowled regularly in the Bay Square bowling alley. He must have crossed paths with Amy during that time, though he claims they never met. A check of his personnel records at the MetroParks shows that he did not show up for work the day Amy was abducted. When questioned by the FBI in 1989, he told them that he couldn’t remember what he had done that day. When we met, the Artist wanted to show me a collage of pictures he had constructed from photos of a twenty-something Internet stripper he had befriended. Amongst the photos was the image of a prepubescent girl, who he identified as his niece. I told him I thought it was strange that he lived so close to where Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus were abducted. “You know what’s strange,” he said. “I knew Amanda Berry.” He said that Mandy’s best friend was his neighbor and that they had come to his house one day to “party”. But the friend, when contacted by the FBI, denied that she knew Amanda Berry. He later claimed that he wasn’t really sure that it was the missing girl who had been in his house.
The Shaggy-Haired Man
The Shaggy-Haired Man was a science teacher from the Amherst/Vermilion area, who maintained a small zoo inside his classrooms. Though his name was given to investigators in 1989, it appears that he wasn't seriously considered until a few years ago, when a woman from Lorain called in a tip. The Shaggy-Haired Man looks a great deal like the composite sketch of Amy's abductor. At the time of her abduction, he lived with family in New London, less than five minutes from where Amy's body was discovered. He is somehow connected to the Lake Erie Nature and Science Center in Bay Village, as well. Several of his students claim this man often made inappropriately comments to young girls in his class and sometimes took students back to his apartment after school or on the weekends. In 2003, as investigators began to question his relatives, this man abruptly quit teaching and moved to Florida. Also, there was a period of about two years between 1987 and 1989 when this man wandered around the country. It appears he thought he was about to die from some disease (though he has told several conflicting stories about the nature of this disease, including a blood-parasite from scraping his arm on some coral, eating bad clams, etc.) If anyone has information about this man, or the nature of his illness, please contact me ASAP.
**It seems to me that the man who abducted Amy, and called the girls from North Olmsted, in 1989 knew them through one of two places: horse stables or the Lake Erie Nature and Science Center.
If you have any information on someone who fits the discription of the men above--or any info related to strange men associated with horse stables or the Lake Erie Nature and Science Center--please contact Bay Village police at 440-871-1234, the Cleveland FBI office at 216-522-1400. It would be great if you could share that information with me as well, via email (email@example.com) or at my new office at Scene Magazine (216-802-7235).