ARMADA (WWJ) – Police in northern Macomb County have confirmed a body found in a wooded area near a nature trail is that of a missing 14-year-old Armada girl — and that she was murdered.
Armada Police Chief Howard Smith said April Dawn Millsap’s mother reported her missing after the teen didn’t return home from walking her dog, which she does nearly every night.
April’s body was discovered along the Macomb Orchard Trail around 8:25 p.m. Thursday near Fulton and Depot roads, north of 33 Mile Road in Armada.
Her identity was confirmed the following day.
“An autopsy was conducted by the Macomb County Medical Examiner’s office today and revealed that the cause of death was a homicide,” Smith told reporters, Friday afternoon.
Michigan State police, the FBI, , Southeast Michigan Crimes Against Children unit, county and local police are all involved in the case.
MSP Ltn. Mike Shaw told WWJ’s Mike Campbell it was the dog that pointed to the girl’s location, 15 to 20 feet off the trail in a drainage ditch.
“Two joggers were going around the trail and a dog actually alerted that there was something amiss in the wood line,” Shaw said. “When they went to investigate what it was, that’s when they found the body.”
The Macomb Orchard trail is a paved hike and bike trail that runs 24 miles from Shelby Township to Richmond.
Police said Friday they were looking for a long gray box van that was seen in the area of the crime scene. This is described as a painters’ type van” with dents all over it. Police said they’re not yet sure how or if the van is connected to the case — but they want to speak with two white males spotted in the vehicle.
Detectives are also seeking information due to tips received of a small cc motorcycle, blue and white in color with a young male rider, wearing a black helmet that was seen riding on the trail near the time the victim was killed.
Anyone who was in a van like the one described or who knows someone who has that type of van is asked to call 877-616-4677. Tips may also be submitted online at www.michigan.gov/michtip.
Armada resident Sue Howard is worried about her family.
“I have six grand-babies who live in this town,” Howard said. “I have two daughters, myself … It’s not safe right now.”
“I worked the night shift and haven’t slept yet today because I’m afraid. We don’t know what’s going on yet,” she said. “It’s very peaceful; it’s a nice family setting all the time; and for something like this to happen, it’s scary.”
Samuel Rolando, who went to school with April, he’d never thought a murder would take place in his small community.
“It was just devastating,” he said. “She was like one of my friends, and she was in my third hour…just shocking.”
Samuel said April was friends with everybody.
There will be grief counseling available at the Armada Middle School from 9 a.m. until noon on Saturday for those who need it.
Stay with WWJ Newsradio 950 and CBSDetroit.com for the latest.