April Millsap, 14, of Armada, Michigan, walked her dog, Penny, almost every day along Armada’s Macomb Orchard Trail. But last Thursday, April’s mom called the police when the two didn't come home after their routine 30-minute outing. Tragically, April’s lifeless body was found in a drainage ditch later that evening near the popular walking and jogging trail. Medical examiners ruled April’s death a homicide, according to a July 28 report from The Daily News.
It was actually two joggers who found April’s body hours after she had disappeared. And it was Penny – April’s faithful border collie – “who was standing guard over the murdered April, who alerted the joggers.” Making April’s murder even more mysterious, police say that at approximately the same time she was being murdered, a “frantic” text was sent from her cell phone to her boyfriend’s cell phone stating, “OMG. I think I’m being kidnapped.” Police are not claiming that April sent that text, don’t know who sent it and have ruled out April’s boyfriend as a suspect in her murder, according to The Detroit Free Press.
Those joggers found April’s body hours after the teen went missing Thursday night. Lt. Michael Shaw with the Michigan State Police said that when the joggers saw Penny, “they thought the dog was trying to attack them,” adding that Penny “kept coming up and going back” to the body according to a separate report from The Detroit Free Press.
Shaw also said that the state police have received tips about people being spotted in the area near April’s murder site. Police are on the lookout for one vehicle and a biker.
Police are searching for a large gray box van that was occupied by two white males. Detectives are also seeking information on a blue and white "small cc motorcycle" after receiving tips. According to a news release, the motorcycle is blue and white. The tips indicated a young male rider wearing a black helmet was seen riding on the trail around the time April was killed.
Police came up with an artist’s rendering of a person of interest in the case, a man who was seen near the area where April was murdered on Thursday. Shaw said that "We just want to talk to him."
Because the investigation into April’s murder is active and ongoing, police aren't sharing many details as to the exact circumstances of her death. They did say that April’s death was not an accident; there was no evidence of a sexual assault. There were no stab wounds or gunshot wounds present. “We’ll be out here until we find who are the people responsible for this crime,” Shaw said.
The teen was getting ready to start high school this fall. A GoFundMe page has been set up in April's name to help raise funds for her family.
Crime Stoppers is offering a cash reward up to $2500 for information about April's death that leads to an arrest. Police are asking for the public’s assistance and would like to speak with anyone who “might have seen April or Penny between 6:20 p.m. and 8:20 p.m. Thursday, July 24.” Anyone with any information is asked to call the state police tip line at (877) 616-4677 or click on www.michigan.gov/michtip.