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Lifetime’s #TextMeWhenYouGetHome will return with a new episode this week chronicling the brutal murder of April Millsap. The teen was killed near a popular hiking trail in Armada, Michigan.
Authorities did not find any physical evidence to link the alleged criminal James VanCallis to the murder. However, it was digital evidence from 14-year-old April’s cell phone and multiple witness statements that led to the prosecution of VanCallis for the murder of Millsap.
— WXYZ Detroit (@wxyzdetroit) June 12, 2018
In July 2014, April Millsap went missing after taking her dog out for a walk near a popular hiking trail in Armada, Michigan. After her concerned mother informed the authorities, her body was found near the woods on the trail.
The case was eventually cracked with the help of an app on the victim’s phone. VanCallis was charged with first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.
IMAGES FOR EPISODE 84 –
1. April Millsap
2. April’s movements based on her cell phone data
3. Penny painted pink in memory of April
4. James VanCallis
— Morbidology (@morbidology) January 29, 2021
Read on to find out how the case unfolded.
How was April Millsap’s murderer caught?
After her body was found near the woods, authorities jumped to untangle the threads of the complicated murder case of 14-year-old April Millsap. As news of her death was broadcast on the local news, several witnesses stepped up to testify that they had seen her walking her dog on the trail. Witnesses also said that April Millsap was spotted talking to a man on a motorcycle.
One witness also reported that they had spotted the same man acting suspiciously outside the woods. Police drew up a composite sketch of the alleged suspect from witness descriptions. Apart from witness testimonies, no physical evidence was found at the crime scene, making the case more complicated.
However, as soon as April’s phone was found, things became much easier for the investigators. The missing cell phone, which was located in a rural residential area, had a fitness app that accurately tracked the phone’s location throughout the ordeal.
Meanwhile, the teen’s last text to her boyfriend read:
“I think I almost got kidnapped omfg.”
Authorities alleged that this was after her first encounter with James VanCallis.
After the text, the pace of April Millsap’s movements increased and eventually reached the spot where her body was found. The phone then went on to travel across town and reach the final location where it was found.
During this time, James was also spotted on security footage from a house in Armada, directly, linking him to the case. Prosecutors alleged that after the murder, James carried the phone across town and threw it away elsewhere.
Authorities used this to charge James VanCallis with first-degree murder. During the trial, there were three dozen prosecution witnesses, including VanCallis’ ex-girlfriend. She testified to seeing him clean his tennis shoes the next morning. The shoes were never found.
April Millsap’s mother said in court:
“You, James, are a damn thief. You stole my beautiful daughter’s life and you stole the rest of mine,…My life has totally changed since April was killed. … My life will never be the same. I will always miss April and will continue to hold her in my heart. I never thought this could happen to my daughter or me.”
The court sentenced VanCallis to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for the first-degree murder, kidnapping and attempted assault of April Millsap.
The upcoming episode of #TextMeWhenYouGetHome will air on Monday, June 20, 2022.