Police investigating the slaying of Armada teen April Millsap on Tuesday said they are “zeroing in” on a suspect and will continue to work on the case until it is resolved.
The Armada Homicide Task Force has been working around-the-clock since April’s body was found Thursday night on the Macomb Orchard Trail, but their investigation is now narrowing in its focus, said Michigan State Police Lt. Michael Shaw.
“We are pretty confident that we are zeroing in on the person who did this and the person knows that as well,” Shaw said.
Investigators continue to speak with April’s family and her boyfriend, but they are not considered suspects.
In addition, police say they no longer are looking for a gray van that had been reported to be in the area on the night of the slaying. But they do want to locate a man who was riding a small, dark-colored motorcycle that may have been riding on the trail.
The body of 14-year-old April Millsap, a student at Armada Middle School, was found July 24 in a drainage ditch near the popular recreation trail near the Armada Department of Public Works garage. She had gone to take her dog for a walk and never returned home.
A pair of joggers noticed her border collie Penny by the trail and followed the dog to the body. Police have not revealed how the teen was killed, but friends and family members have said she was beaten to death.
The task force was established within hours of her body being discovered and is made up of law enforcers from Armada, Macomb County Sheriff’s Office, Michigan State Police, the FBI and other agencies. They set up shop in the Armada Schools administration building.
Armada Police Chief Howard Smith on Monday night appeared before the village board with an update on the investigation. He said the task force will operate in shifts now as some of the members have to return to other duties.
Smith said analysts with computers are working to process more than 400 tips that have come in from the public. “The support we have has been overwhelming,” he said.
While the task force’s work becomes more structured, the changes do not mean the team has run out of strong leads.
“We are in this for the long haul,” Shaw said. “We have compiled a lot of information. We are a heck of a lot closer (to making an arrest) than we were on Thursday.”
A funeral service will be held Friday morning at St. Mary Mystical Rose Church in Armada. Visitation is Thursday in Tiffany, Young and Hauss Funeral Home, Armada.
Police still want to talk with anyone who was at or near the Macomb Orchard Trail between the hours of 5 and 8 p.m. last Thursday, or if they saw April or her dog in the village in that same time frame.
Crime Stoppers is offering a $2,500 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the case. Information may be phoned in to the MSP hotline at 877-616-4677.