‘How I Caught My Killer’ Episode 6: Recap And Ending, Explained: What Happened To April Millsap?

Previously on “How I Caught My Killer,” we saw the story of a 14-year-old girl who was murdered by her boyfriend. In this episode, we see the story of a 14-year-old girl again, but the difference here is that she was murdered while she was out on a walk with her dog. What happened to April Millsap? Let’s dig into her story.

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April Millsap was very close to her mother. Her mother suffers from a neurological disease that affects her speech, and April is always there to help her. April was a normal teenager who was glued to her phone. In today’s world, our smartphones work magically. There are applications for almost everything, from health to entertainment. April was from a village near Michigan called Armada. The community was close-knit. April was very conscious of her appearance because of social media. She would go on walks and keep track of the number of steps she walked, for which she had an application on her mobile phone.

On July 24, 2014, April went on a walk with her dog but did not come home on time. Her mother was worried about her whereabouts. Meanwhile, a married couple reported that they found a body on a trail in Armada. The area is small, so they did not have a lot of resources to investigate a homicide. The police of Armada contacted the Michigan State Police to send help. Detectives came to the crime scene, and the news spread around the town quickly. Upon hearing the news that a body had been found, April’s mother and April’s boyfriend both came to the crime scene, fearing the worst. April’s mother wished things were different than what she had witnessed. The body was that of her daughter. She was distressed at the news of her daughter’s death. The worst part about her death was that she had been stomped to death. There were tread marks all over her face and chest. Her body was partially naked, which indicated that the crime was sexually motivated. But who would want to hurt a 14-year-old child in such a way? The police had no answer. They started asking everyone in the area if they had witnessed anything strange or unusual. They also showed April’s picture and asked for clues.

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Meanwhile, the police started looking at April’s boyfriend, Austin. Austin and April’s relationship was rocky; they had been arguing about a few things. Scared that the police would think he had something to do with April’s murder, Austin deleted some of their conversations over text. He admitted that it looked wrong, and he was very nervous talking about April, which made him look suspicious. According to Austin, he was in another town with a friend at the time April was murdered. He showed a text from April in which she said she had almost been kidnapped. This was a piece of key information in the case because it signified that she was in some danger. Austin said their last conversation was an argument, and the police kept him as a person of interest in the case. But they removed him as a suspect when they found footage of him in a McDonald’s away from the town.

Nevertheless, when the police were questioning the people in the area, a young woman came forward with a picture of a white van. She said that the van looked very suspicious, and that there had been two men inside the vehicle. April had said she almost got kidnapped, and here the police had a picture of a suspicious van. The police started asking the people about a white van in the area, and the owner of the vehicle turned himself in. He said he was a builder and was showing his friend some of the houses he had built in the area. He was ruled out as a suspect, and the police were back to square one. With no evidence and no person to convict, the people of the community started getting impatient and scared. They started locking their doors, and children would not go out of their houses to play. The whole community was in shock because of what had happened to the 14-year-old child. The police of Armada started feeling guilty because they were supposed to protect the citizens of the village, but they had failed to do so. However, the community wanted to help the police as much as they could. One day, a man and his two daughters came to the police station with information. They had been walking on the trail and had seen a person on a bike talking to April. Since the girls went to the same school as April, they recognized her. A sketch was made to help identify the suspect, and the witnesses described the bike to the police.

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Meanwhile, the FBI investigated April’s phone and found out that the fitness app she was using to track her steps was running in the background. It had captured her movements, and the police now had a clear image of where she had been walking. The killer took her phone and threw it a few miles away from the crime scene, and that had been recorded on the application as well. The police now had a map of where April was killed and where her killer took her phone. One could see the panic because the phone was moving the entire time. The speed of movement according to the app went up, and the police were able to deduce the time when the killer must have taken her phone away. The police now had the murderer’s escape route, but they still could not figure out who exactly did it.

One of the police officers was driving outside Armada when he noticed a bike that fit the description very well. At night, the police went to the house for questioning, and found that a man named James VanCallis Jr. lived there with his father and girlfriend. VanCallis Sr. was a convicted sex offender, so the police were suspicious of him. The police asked James what kind of shoes he wore, and he showed them a pair of K-Swiss shoes whose design did not match the tread marks on April’s body. However, the police discovered that James and his father were growing marijuana in their backyard. The two of them got arrested. While they were in jail, James’ girlfriend called the police with shocking news. Krystal Stradler lived in fear of James because he was abusive and threatened to kill her family if she left him. He was a pedophile who started dating her when she was 17. She had no choice and was trapped and isolated. Krystal Stradler told the police that he was wearing his Jordans the day April died. She described how she woke up in the middle of the night and saw James washing his shoes. When she asked him what he was doing, he said he was washing oil off his shoes. Also, the police found out that he was in the same area the day April was murdered. They found CCTV footage of him riding his bike near the trail. The timing matched April’s fitness app’s data, and he was arrested for the murder of April. After almost a year after her death, James was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

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Gruesome murders keep happening in places you never imagine. This story scares you because April was just a child walking her dog, and her life was lost because of a monster who preyed on young girls. Law enforcement also failed to protect the life of a young girl in this case, which makes one question the level of security provided by police. This case changed the community of Armada, and they still remember April as a sweet young girl who loved her mother and was her only child.


Tarushi Patali
Tarushi Patali
Tarushi is an English Literature graduate, who is currently doing master's in mass communication from Mumbai. She loves making lists and is an avid reader. Also, she likes judging people by their movie taste. In her leisure time you would find her digging random conspiracy pages on Reddit!

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