BAY VILLAGE, Ohio - Nearly 20 years ago, 10-year-old Amy Mihaljevic was abducted from a Bay Village shopping plaza. Rick Burns, the owner of a service station just 25 feet away from the plaza, believes he spotted Amy that day.
"I may be the last person to see Amy Mihaljevic," Burns said.
And Burns still remembers the man who abducted her. Burns said, "It (was) 20 years ago, but he still sticks out in my head, this guy. He just didn't seem in place in Bay Village."
Burns reported what he witnessed to police and the FBI just hours after the abduction, but Burns said no one ever followed up.
Chief investigator Duane Pohlman asked, "Am I the first from the media to talk to you about this?"
"I believe so, yes," Burns responded.
Pohlman showed Burns pictures of suspects mixed in with ordinary men.
Pohlman said, "When you see something, you let us know."
Even after two decades, Burns wasted no time identifying a suspect.
When Burns looked at one particular photo, he said, "That's him!"
The man Burns identified was also identified by another person that day. FBI agents have already interrogated this man.
"That's the guy I gave directions to. He was here that day," Burns explained.
Pohlman immediately brought the new information to the FBI. Within a day, the man who leads the investigation, Bay Village Lt. Detective Mark Spaetzel, followed up and re-interviewed Burns at his service station about what he saw the day Amy disappeared.
At first, the lieutenant didn't want to talk on camera. Spaetzel told Pohlman in private that after 20 years, he believes Burns is confusing the facts.
But Burns insisted he is not.
Later in his office at the police station, Spaetzel said Burns' story doesn't match original reports taken by agents hours after the abduction.
And in a separate report, Burns told agents that a customer reported seeing a man with a girl.
Spaetzel said, "He's confusing those two memories together."
Burns said there was a second report, but insisted the agents made a mistake on the day they took his statement.
"I remember what I seen and I recall seeing a girl in the back seat," Burns said.
Burns also said that girl was Amy Mihaljevic.
"All I can say is what I remember. I'm just trying to do the right thing," Burns explained.
Police are skeptical, but said they'd take another look.
"Every time information comes up, we look at it again," Spaetzel said.
James Renner, the journalist and author who wrote the book on his search for Amy's killer, is not happy with the way detectives are treating the information NewsChannel5 uncovered.
"It's disappointing. It's very, very disappointing. But it's not surprising," Renner said.
That's because Renner, who has turned up so much information in his book, said he's been constantly frustrated by a lack of police follow-up.
But Renner said what NewsChannel5 discovered could help crack this case.
"I think it's the most significant clue that's been uncovered in 20 years. I mean, this is a guy I believe is credible and he's saying he saw not only the guy that looked like the composite sketch, but Amy in the back seat of his car. I think that's huge!" Renner explained.
Copyright 2009 by NewsNet5. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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