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Posted: 07/30/14



HOMICIDE INVESTIGATION. Seen above is April Dawn Millsap, 14, of Armada, who was murdered while walking her dog on the Macomb Orchard Trail in the Village of Armada on July 24. Police said her body was discovered by two joggers. At right is a sketch of a person of interest in the homicide investigation of April Dawn Millsap. Anyone with information should call 877-616-4677 or log onto www.michigan.gov/michtip.

(Sketch and photo courtesy of the Michigan State Police)

Armada teen killed while
walking dog on trail

by CHRIS GRAY
Observer Staff Writer
      Law enforcement officials have ruled the death of an Armada teenager as a homicide, and are seeking a person of interest related to the crime.
       The Armada Police Department and Michigan State Police (MSP) are investigating the murder of April Dawn Millsap, 14, after her body was discovered on Thursday in the Village of Armada.
       Armada Police Chief Howard Smith said the investigation began around 8:30 p.m. on July 24 when Millsap's body was found in a drainage ditch near the Macomb Orchard Trail at Fulton and Depot streets. She was 15 to 20 feet from the trail.
       Millsap left her home around 5:30 p.m. to walk her border collie, Penny, on the trail, something she did almost every day. Smith said around 8:20 p.m., two joggers on the trail noticed the dog, and when they returned to the area they saw Penny again and realized something was wrong.
       Police say the joggers followed Penny and discovered the body, which the dog seemed to be protecting.
       "The Orchard Trail is used by a lot of people to walk their dogs and exercise and everything, so that made sense that that is where she was found," Smith said.
       While investigating the scene, police were contacted by the family when Millsap hadn't returned after an hour. Smith described the tragedy as overwhelming.
       "I've been here for seven years and we certainly haven't had (a homicide)," Smith said.
       An autopsy by the Macomb County Medical Examiner's Office determined Millsap's death was a homicide. Smith said there were no gunshot or knife wounds, but the specific cause of death was not released as of print deadline. No evidence of sexual assault was found.
       MSP Lt. Mike Shaw said the particulars of what happened to Millsap will not be released during the on-going investigation, but said the tragedy appears to be an isolated incident.
       As of Thursday the murder wasn't linked to any other assaults or homicides in the area.
       "Anybody that loses their life in the State of Michigan is tragic," Shaw said. "For us, a child is particularly more heart-breaking."
       Around 30 investigators with the MSP's Special Investigation section, Sex Offenders Unit, the Macomb County Sheriff's Office, the FBI and the Southeastern Crimes Against Michigan Task Force are working on the investigation.
       A sketch of a person of interest was released by investigators of a white male described as tall in stature. Police said people should be aware of a person changing their appearance with a haircut or facial hair.
       Police are looking for a gray box van seen circling in and out of the area on July 24. The van is described as a painter's van with multiple dents, and was occupied by two white males. Police said it has yet to be determined what role the van or the men have in the investigation.
       Detectives are also seeking information on a small cc motorcycle, blue and white in color, ridden by a young male rider wearing a black helmet. He was seen riding on the trail near the time the victim was killed.
       "We're telling residents that if you think you saw something, call that tip line," Shaw said.
       At Armada Middle School, where Millsap was a student, grief counseling was held on July 26 for those who needed it.
       Anyone with information regarding the case is asked to call 877-616-4677 or submit a tip at www.michigan.gov/michtip. Tips can be made anonymously.
      


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