Investigation ID pays the bills with a 24/7 slate of true-crime programming — and “Who Killed Amy Mihaljevic?” won’t disappoint its audience.
The three-hour special, premiering 9 p.m. Sunday on ID, takes a deep dive into the still-unsolved 1989 murder of 10-year-old Amy Mihaljevic, who lived in a town on the shores of Lake Erie. It’s the lead-in episode to “The Lake Erie Murders,” a miniseries airing over successive Sundays through Jan. 27, documenting unsolved killings in that region (Erie, Pa., Cleveland, Buffalo, Parkdale, Ontario) — all of which share disturbing similarities.
Here it’s bucolic Bay Village, Ohio, on the shores of Lake Erie, where Amy Mihaljevic — who loved horses, her bike and the movie “Dirty Dancing” — disappeared in late October 1989 after leaving school with three friends. She never made it home.
One of Amy’s friends eventually told authorities that Amy had received a phone call from a man who claimed he worked with her mother. The man told Amy her mother was being promoted at work — and that he wanted Amy to accompany him to buy her mother a surprise gift. Amy was last seen waiting alone in front of a local strip mall on Oct. 27, 1989; two eyewitnesses later reported seeing a man approach her and put his hand on the small of her back, as if guiding her to his car.
Amy’s disappearance made national headlines — including segments on “Oprah” and “Sally Jessy Raphael” — once the FBI got involved and released a composite sketch of the suspect (later revised). There was a massive manhunt; later, other young girls from neighboring towns told similar tales of getting that creepy phone call from a man claiming to know their mother. In early February, 1990, Amy’s body was found by a jogger in a remote field in neighboring Ashland County. Evidence suggests she may have been raped or sexually abused. Her killer was never found. Theories abound: it was the over-friendly local handyman or the creepy caretaker with glasses who worked at the stable where Amy took riding lessons. One thing everyone knows for sure: there’s a predator on the loose — and he hasn’t been caught to this day. (There’s still a $27,000 reward from the FBI for information pertaining to Amy’s murder.)
There’s much more involved, and “Who Killed Amy Mihaljevic?” does a solid, professional job recounting the timeline and probable circumstances of Amy’s disappearance and murder. There are a lot of reenactments — always a slippery slope — but they’re tastefully done, and many of Amy’s friends and family, including her brother and her father, are interviewed here. (Amy’s heartbroken mother, Margaret, who did much to publicize the case, died in 2001.)
It’s a horrifying story we’ve heard all-too-often — but still compels our insatiable curiosity in the monsters who walk among us.