Oakland county child murders
(this is from my area of the world)
Police 'Working Feverishly' On Child Killer Case
Oakland County Killings Unsolved Since 1970s
POSTED: 11:02 am EDT August 14, 2005
OAK PARK, Mich. -- DNA samples from three potential suspects in the 1970s killings of four Oakland County children have been sent to the FBI, local investigators said.
Detective Sgt. Garry Gray of the Michigan State Police said two other samples could be sent to the FBI's crime lab in Quantico, Va., in the coming weeks.
The DNA samples will be tested against a single hair that was found on one of the children. Investigators believe the hair could have been left by the killer, Gray said.
"We're working feverishly on this," Gray told The Oakland Press of Pontiac for a Saturday story. "And we're making headway."
Police announced in February that they would begin reanalyzing evidence and leads in the unsolved murders. Investigators are using more advanced computer databases and forensic techniques than had been available at the time of the crimes.
Timothy King, 11; Mark Stebbins, 12; Jill Robinson, 12; and Kristine Mihelich, 10, were suffocated between February 1976 and March 1977. Their bodies were found after each went missing for periods ranging from three to 19 days. Two had been raped and one also was shot in the face with a shotgun.
Investigators moved the five file cabinets and 15 boxes containing the case files to Oak Park from state police 2nd District Headquarters in Northville so detectives and forensics experts can go back and review evidence.
What has become known as the "Oakland County Child Killer" case horrified the area, where parents feared to let their children out of their sight. All the children were abducted from suburban business areas.
"It's tough to commit the perfect crime," Oakland County Prosecutor David Gorcyca said. "We'd all love to stamp 'closed' on this case file. Everyone wants to see justice done. This is one of the greatest whodunits in Oakland County."
Right now, Gray said, there are a handful of names on a board in the Michigan State Police Metro North Post in Oak Park. He's spending his days tracking those names, seeing whether any could turn out to be the killer.
Gray will travel to an Indiana prison soon to interview a convicted child killer about the case. He's also hoping to get a DNA sample from the man.
Through the years, there has been a series of strong leads.
Investigators' last big lead fell apart in November 2000, when DNA from the exhumed body of a suspect failed to match the genetic material in a hair found on one of the children.
Investigators have said the exhumed man, David Norberg, of Recluse, Wyo., was not ruled out as a suspect. He had a necklace inscribed with the first name of one of the children, and his wife, who provided his alibis, later recanted.
Earlier this year, investigators collected blood samples from Todd Warzecha, 53, who committed suicide in Texas.
Warzecha, a known child molester, was a suspect in the 1972 slayings of two teenage boys in Bay City. He also was a suspect in the Oakland County case and was interviewed by detectives.
Warzecha's DNA, along with DNA from a man who died in prison, is being tested. Gray said DNA from another man, who is still alive, also was sent for tests last week.
I would think it is far more likely they will be solved now than back in the 70's before DNA Fingerprinting was discovered. It sounds a bit like the "Zodiac Killer" in California or Dennis Rader AKA "BTK," without the taunting of law enforcement.
Do you know any other details, Pook? Are there rumors or "urban legends" floating around? It certainly sounds interesting.
You must give some time to your fellow men. Even if it's a little thing, do something for others - something for which you get no pay but the privilege of doing it.
-Albert Schweitzer (1875 - 1965)
Victims young, and alone
By Mike Martindale / The Detroit News
SOUTHFIELD -- Mark Stebbins was the first known victim of the Oakland County child killer when his body was found in a Southfield parking lot Feb. 19, 1976.
But Dec. 22, 10 months later, the killer struck again. Jill Robinson, 12, of Royal Oak disappeared about 7:30 p.m. near Woodward, and her body was found on Dec. 26 along the shoulder of northbound Interstate 75 near Big Beaver in Troy.
On Jan. 7, 1977, a little over a week later, Kristine Mihelich, 10, of Berkley dropped out of sight after leaving a 7-Eleven store. She was found 19 days later on a residential lane near 13 Mile Road in Franklin.
The boy police believe was the killer's final victim, Timothy King, 11, of Birmingham was last seen March 16 outside a Maple Road drug store. His body was found six days later on Gill Road in Livonia.
"We had a countywide stop-and-frisk procedure going where vehicles were being stopped everywhere in Oakland County with the hope of finding the boy," said Jerry Tobias. "For the first time the killer disposed of a child's body outside of the county. And we never heard of him again.
"I often wonder if there was something done that day, someone who was stopped, someone who was interviewed, that made these killings stop."
Among the similarities linking the deaths:
* All four were alone and abducted from business areas.
* Two victims were abducted on Sunday afternoons, two on Wednesday evenings.
* All were held in captivity from three to 19 days.
* All appeared well-fed and were very clean as if bathed before or after their deaths.
* All were left along roadsides where they could be easily found.
Anyone with information on any of these deaths is asked to call the Oakland County Sheriff's Department at (248) 858-4960; Michigan State Police at (248) 380-1077; or Jerry Tobias at (248) 851-8607 or write to P.O. Box 503, Bloomfield Hills, MI 48303.
But since I now reside smack daub in the area, it interests me now.
I just saw in the news that they finally have a few leads they are following, and these leads look good!! They are looking at a man who now lives in Ohio, who has reportedly not passed a polygraph.
I can't find anything in print yet, but will post when I do.
I live in Mich. I have a child and I am so paranoid to have them outta my site. I hope Mich will make child predator laws stricter. The government really needs to seriously start protecting our children!!! I pisses me off that people that get caught with a joint go to jail longer than a child molester!!! Something has to be done!!!
I pray for the family of those murdered children may funally get justice and closure. If one could ever get closure or justice of a murdered child.
Murderer offers clues in '70s case
Mich. police say convict has yielded information about unsolved Oakland County child slayings.
Eric Lacy and Oralandar Brand-Williams / The Detroit News
A man convicted Tuesday of a Livonia murder is providing new leads into the 30-year-old unsolved Oakland County child killings case.
"He's not a suspect, but he is a person of high interest that has information about the (child killings) investigation," said Michigan State Police Detective Sgt. Garry Gray, who heads the current investigation into the child slayings.
The slayings of four children in Oakland County in 1976 and 1977 spread fear across Metro Detroit.
At the height of the investigation, more than 200 investigators worked on the slayings of Mark Stebbins, 12, of Ferndale; Jill Robinson, 12, of Royal Oak; Kristine Milhelich, 10, of Berkley; and Timothy King, 11, of Birmingham.
The man providing the new information is Richard M. Lawson, 60, who was found guilty of first-degree murder and armed robbery Tuesday in Wayne Circuit Court in the 1989 shooting death of Livonia businessman Exavor Giller, Gray said.
Livonia police tracked Lawson down in San Diego and arrested him last year. While in jail, Lawson provided new information about the child killings, Gray said.
He declined to say what information Lawson gave to police, but said it could help bring others forward with more tips. He said more information about the case would be released today.
Shane Liddick, an acquaintance of Lawson's from California, said Lawson called him from jail Tuesday night and told him that he feels "confused" and "railroaded by police (about the child killings)."
Liddick said Lawson told him that he wasn't sure if he has information about the child killings.
"He doesn't think he knows anything, but he thinks that maybe they want something that he doesn't even know that he knows," Liddick said.
"He thinks maybe it's something that he doesn't even realize is important."
Former Detroit Police Chief Isaiah McKinnon said that in 1974 Lawson was a paid informant for the Sex Crime Unit, providing detectives with "a wealth of information" about the "underworld" of people who molest kids.
"He educated us into the world of pedophilia," McKinnon said.
"We took down a lot of people who were pedophiles," McKinnon said "He started sharing information and we got a lot of pedophiles off the street."
Man wonders: Could my dad be the Oakland County child killer?
April 5, 2006
BY FRANK WITSIL
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER
The black trunk that Chip St. Clair found in his father's apartment years ago is filled with secrets.
In it are locks of brown hair and baby teeth, a birth certificate for St. Clair that appears to have been altered, newspaper clippings of Michigan's most-wanted criminals and photos of children that are supposed to be of St. Clair, but don't look like him.
The contents could be clues in one of Oakland County's most notorious unsolved cases -- or no more than family mementos.
Police will travel to an Indiana prison today to question St. Clair's father, Michael Grant, in connection with the deaths of four children -- ages 10, 11 and 12 -- three decades ago. They also plan to ask for a sample of Grant's DNA, to see whether it matches a hair found on one of the victims.
It is another twist in the decades-long mystery of the Oakland County child killings and in the harrowing relationship St. Clair has had with his father, much of which has been told in the Free Press and on television news programs.
Following a Free Press report in 2002, St. Clair was invited to tell his story on "Good Morning America," "Dateline NBC" and other shows.
In the 29 years since the last of the four children died, there have been many leads in the investigation, including one in 1999 that took investigators to Recluse, Wyo., where the body of David Norberg, a Warren autoworker at the time of the killings, was exhumed. His DNA did not match the killer's.
Until now, authorities had identified Grant only as an Indiana prisoner who was convicted of killing a child, the son of a woman he was seeing in 1970.
But last week, State Police Sgt. Garry Gray, who has been investigating the case, confirmed that he planned to question Grant about the Oakland County child killings. He added Tuesday that they are also looking into other leads, including one involving a man in the Cleveland area.
Gray was reticent to discuss the case, saying only that Grant was convicted of killing a child and that he was living in Michigan in 1976 and 1977, when the four Oakland County victims were slain.
Grant, through corrections officials in Indiana, declined to be interviewed by the Free Press.
According to investigators, the four children were abducted, held for several days and killed. Their meticulously cleaned bodies were left on roadsides. The killer was believed to have been driving a green or blue AMC Gremlin.
The victims were Timothy King, 11, of Birmingham; Kristine Mihelich, 10, of Berkley; Jill Robinson, 12, of Royal Oak, and Mark Stebbins, 12, of Ferndale.
Gray said he now believes it's possible that more than one person killed the children.
St. Clair, regional director in Birmingham of the nonprofit group Justice For Children, said Tuesday that he is horrified to imagine his father as a child killer, but he can't block out what he calls suspicious coincidences.
Among them, St. Clair said, his father was physically and sexually abusive toward him and his dad drove a vehicle that he called the "Green Machine." He also said his father was meticulously neat.
As for the mysterious lock of hair, children's teeth and the photos that his father said were of him, St. Clair said, "I don't know what is a part of a normal childhood mystery, and what is a deep, dark family secret."
Incarcerated in Westville Correctional Facility in northwest Indiana, Grant, 65, was born and raised in Elkhart, Ind.
In 1970, Grant began dating an Indiana woman, and on Aug. 1, as he was giving her two sons -- ages 5 and 3 -- a bath, the younger one died. Grant, in prison records, acknowledged that he hit the child. He was convicted of manslaughter and given a sentence of up to 21 years in prison.
But in late 1973, he escaped.
For 26 years, Grant was a fugitive, living under an alias, David St. Clair, and moving from place to place.
But Chip St. Clair said he knew nothing about his father's criminal past until 1998, when his father was arrested for domestic violence after hitting him.
St. Clair said he called his aunt in Indiana to let her know about the arrest, and she revealed that his father was a wanted man in Indiana.
St. Clair said he decided to tell authorities, who confirmed Grant was an escapee and returned him to prison. Shortly after that, St. Clair said, he found the mysterious trunk.
"I feel like I'm in a dark room with thousands of puzzle pieces, and I never see the entire picture," St. Clair said last week, as he sifted through the contents. "Is he the Oakland County child killer? I don't know. But if he is, I would be relieved, if only for the families of the victims."
Unless I'm posting a link, This is, of course, just my opinion...
...If you don't talk to your cat about catnip, who will???
Oakland County Child Killings
Oakland County Child Killings
Last Updated: October 26. 2009 1:22PM
Finding Timmy's killer: Family seeks answers 32 years after son's death
King family believes they know who killed 11-year-old in 1977, but police are slow to act
Marney Rich Keenan / The Detroit News
For 32 years, Timmy King's family has been waiting for the truth. Who abducted, molested and murdered their 11-year-old son and three other children during a 13-month reign of terror that besieged Oakland County between February 1976 and March 1977?
Timmy King was the last victim of the infamous Oakland County Child Killer. He was abducted and held for six days before his body was found on the side of a road, his orange skateboard tossed nearby like an afterthought.
No one has ever been charged with the killings, although numerous suspects have been investigated.
Now the King family believes they know who the killer is: A suspected Bloomfield Township pedophile who police had questioned three weeks before their boy's murder. But they are frustrated that the task force empowered to probe the cold case is sitting on what they say is information that could close the case once and for all.
"We want to know why we are being stonewalled," says Barry King, the victim's 78-year-old father. Timmy's mother, Marion, died in 2004.
The Kings say their repeated requests to the Michigan State Police for information on recent developments in the case have gone unanswered. Previously scheduled meetings have been postponed twice, although another meeting with some task force members has been scheduled for Tuesday.
"We want some justice for the victims. We've been told evidence is apparently lost; tests were supposedly conducted, but there have been no results for over a year. We never get a straight story," says Timmy's brother Chris King, 48, of Huntington Woods.
The King family believes that movement on the case has been hampered by disputes among law enforcement agencies involved in the task force investigation. Specifically, they believe how to proceed has created a schism between the Michigan State Police and the other agencies: the Livonia Police Department and the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office.
"There has been a lot of frustration felt by the Kings over the past couple of weeks," said State Police Capt. Harold Love, second district commander in charge of Southeast Michigan, which oversees the task force. Love said meetings with the Kings had to be rescheduled due to some "issues" within the task force.
"I don't blame them at all. We had some issues within the task force as far as where information came from and what information was out there and things people were saying and we needed to get the task force all on the same page."
But the Kings say they've waited long enough.
"Those four little kids deserve far better than what they have gotten from the MSP," says Timmy's only sister, Cathy Broad, 50, of Naperville, Ill. "Their actions are either gross incompetence or very dirty dealings or both. Neither answer is very reassuring."
A name under wraps
No one could have predicted the course of events that unearthed this latest break in the case. In part, that's because it didn't come from dogged detective work but from an ex-neighbor who'd grown up across the street from the King family. The neighbor's information was relayed to Chris King in the summer of 2006. Later that same year, the Wayne County prosecutor's office filed an investigative subpoena compelling a polygraph examiner to testify before Wayne County Circuit Judge Timothy Kenny about the Timmy King killing.
By November 2007, polygrapher Lawrence Wasser was ordered under oath to produce a name. The transcripts are sealed, but the Kings say they were told by Cory Williams, a now-retired Livonia Police detective who was investigating the case, that Wasser revealed the name Chris Busch as a suspect in the King slaying.
Busch's name had been circulating for years on Internet blogs and among those familiar with the notorious unsolved child murder cases and the nationwide child pornography rings of the 1970s.
Still, the discovery was numbing: Christopher Brian Busch was the son of Harold Lee Busch, executive financial director for General Motors, and Elsie Busch, both now deceased. The family lived in the Bloomfield Village neighborhood of Bloomfield Township from 1970-79. Bloomfield Township Police records show Busch committed suicide in the home on Nov. 20, 1978, a year after the child killings stopped. His body was cremated two days later.
Six months later, the house was sold.
"My family and I think Chris Busch killed Tim," says Barry King.
"Conventional wisdom at the time dictated it was much easier to think there is some type of evil person who lives far away," says Chris King. "It's almost inconceivable to think somebody from the village could do this. But what's really heartbreaking is that Busch was arrested, charged and should have been in jail many times over."
A family torn apart
On March 16, 1977, Timmy, a straight-A student in sixth grade at Adams Elementary, left his home on Yorkshire Drive in Birmingham at 8:15 p.m. with his skateboard. Timmy was the youngest of Barry and Marion King's children, brother to Cathy, Chris and Mark. He borrowed 30 cents from his sister and left home to buy candy at Hunter-Maple Pharmacy in a shopping center that borders Woodward Avenue and Maple Road.
Chris King was 16 at the time. When he came home from baby-sitting that night, there were police cars in the driveway and in front of his house. His parents returned home from dinner to discover Timmy missing. They had dined at Peabody's Restaurant, less than 500 feet from where Timmy was last seen.
Chris drove with his mother to search for his brother at a friend's house. "The house was dark, pitch black," he remembers. "I said, 'Mom, I'll just go and knock on the door anyway.' And she said, 'No, he's not there.' And then she started crying. And I knew she was right." From that moment on, he says, "It was horrible because you knew what was going on. The clock was ticking."
Six days later, Timmy's still warm, fully clothed body was found beside Gill Road near Eight Mile in Livonia. He had been suffocated. An autopsy revealed signs of sexual abuse and there were marks around his wrists and ankles suggesting he had been tied. His body was strikingly clean, as were his clothes.
The bodies of three other victims also were cleaned and scrubbed, according to the medical examiner. Mark Stebbins, 12, of Ferndale was found Feb. 19, 1976, in a parking lot at 10 Mile and Greenfield in Southfield after he had been missing for four days. The body of Jill Robinson, 12, of Royal Oak, missing for three days, was found several feet from I-75 north of Big Beaver. Missing the longest, 18 days, was Kristine Mihelich, 10. Her body was found by a mailman in a ditch on Bruce Lane near 13 Mile and Telegraph in Franklin Village.
All the victims were found wearing the clothes they were last seen in. Their clothing was spotless. All had been suffocated. Jill Robinson was smothered and then shot in the face when, police think, the killer panicked, thinking she was still alive.
The rash of killings paralyzed the community and became national news. For months, Metro Detroit children were rarely allowed to play outside unsupervised. Parents religiously escorted children to the bus stop. Anyone and everyone was suspect: from the clergy to neighbors to baby sitters.
At its peak, in the spring of 1977, the Oakland County Child Killer Task Force employed 200 detectives from 50 communities in the tri-counties. Back then, it was the most extensive murder investigation in U.S. history. Rewards totaling $200,000 for information leading to the killer's apprehension had been raised.
By December 1978, the task force had disbanded. After close to 5,000 interviews, 99,000 names and nearly 18,000 tips, no one had been arrested. In later years, investigators fielded sporadic tips. In 1999, the body of a former Warren man, David Norberg of Wyoming, was exhumed after a cross found among his possessions was thought to belong to Kristine Mihelich. But his DNA failed to match the genetic material in a hair found on one of the suffocated children.
In September 2004, Timmy's mother died.
In 2005, Michigan State Police Detective Sergeant Garry Gray announced they were going to reanalyze evidence and leads in the case, using more advanced computer databases and forensic techniques.
The effort did uncover decades-old sex-crime cases, but they were not connected to the killings in Oakland County.
A chance occurrence
The case took an unexpected twist in July 2006, when Chris King got a call from a childhood friend whom he hadn't seen in more than 30 years. Patrick Coffey, now 49, of San Francisco had been a neighbor and playmate of the King boys.
Now a polygraph examiner, Coffey says when Tim went missing it profoundly affected his life. "Much of the reason that I went into this profession was because of what happened to Tim," he said.
That summer, Coffey gave a presentation to the board of directors of the American Polygraph Association yearly training conference in Las Vegas. Larry Wasser, a former APA vice president and former president of the Michigan Association of Polygraph Examiners, asked if Coffey would be interested in giving the same presentation in Detroit.
Coffey replied that he grew up in Birmingham and said his career ambition was borne out of the tragedy of a neighbor. "Maybe you have heard of the case: the Timmy King case?" he inquired of Wasser.
He said Wasser's jaw dropped. Then he said: " 'Well, I guess I can tell you this now because the attorney who represented the guy is dead. And the guy who did it is dead. I tested the guy who killed your neighbor boy.' "
Coffey says Wasser told him it was a private polygraph in a case unrelated to the Oakland County child killings.
Coffey says he was shocked by the revelation.
Michigan law makes it a misdemeanor for polygraph examiners to divulge any information learned as a result of their duties, unless compelled by law. Later that night, Coffey was able to track down Chris King, who was on a business trip. Six months later, Thanksgiving week 2007, responding to an investigative subpoena filed by Wayne County Prosecutor Rob Moran, Coffey took the stand and Wasser was ordered by the court to produce the name of the suspected killer.
In the courtroom, Coffey says he remembers meeting Gray, the State Police sergeant who had announced plans to revisit the case in 2005. After shaking hands, Coffey says Gray remarked to him, "You know, we had a state task force on this for 30 some years and I can't believe a neighbor boy solved it." Gray refused to comment for this story.
Reached by phone in his Southfield office, Larry Wasser denied having any involvement in the case. "Pat Coffey's information is totally bogus," he said. "I never tested anybody that was involved in the Oakland County child killings."
Coffey says he was not surprised by Wasser's denial. "I know he regrets our conversation," Coffey says.
In retrospect, Coffey adds: "When you think about the odds of this happening, it's stunning. The Chris Busch lead would have died with Larry Wasser."
North Fox Island porn ring
According to his death certificate, Busch, 27, died from a self-inflicted gunshot to the head on Nov. 20, 1978.
He was employed as a food service manager at Franklin Club Apartments. It is believed that Busch was sent away to a boarding school in Switzerland. As a high-ranking GM executive, Busch's father, accompanied by his wife, traveled extensively throughout Europe for long periods. Former neighbors confirm the parents were rarely at the home on Morningview.
In a series of articles published by the Traverse City Record-Eagle in February and March 1977, Busch was linked to a child pornography ring in Leelanau County 's North Fox Island near Traverse City.
On Fox Island, the so-called Brother Paul's Children's Mission was a front for an underground pornography network where children were coerced into sexual acts and then photographed for use in porn magazines. After conducting a four-month investigation, the Record-Eagle broke the story of the porn ring. One of the stories states: "Police confiscated eight rolls of film from Christopher Busch, 25, of Birmingham."
Busch also was arrested and charged on multiple charges of criminal sexual conduct in late February 1977 in Flint. Police alleged as many as 30 prepubescent boys from Flint were forced to commit sex acts with men, with each other and before cameras.
While in Flint, then-Oakland County Prosecutor L. Brooks Patterson sent investigators to interview Busch and an alleged accomplice, suggesting that some of the victimized boys had been procured in Oakland County. The accomplice, Gregory Green, 26, was charged with Busch. Previously, Green had served time in Orange County, Calif., for a sex offense involving a boy and was subsequently released to a psychiatric hospital.
The men were given lie detector tests and Oakland County investigators concluded Busch and Green were "not suspects in the Stebbins case."
While Green was held in the Genesee County jail in lieu of $75,000 bond, Busch went free on $1,000 cash bond. Records on the outcome of the case were not available. Three weeks after Busch walked, Timmy King was abducted.
Being told the truth
Two years ago, the King family filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Bloomfield Township Police for a copy of the police report of Chris Busch's suicide. They were told the file had been destroyed.
But Jack Kalbfleish, a former Birmingham police detective assigned to the task force during the child killings, says he remembers when the suicide report came into his office.
"I was working with field officers at the time, and I remembered a suicide that came in the area of Maple and Lahser," Kalbfleish said. "The significant detail found at the scene was a drawing of a kid that looked very much like Mark Stebbins."
The Kings fault the police for missing another opportunity to investigate Busch.
On Oct. 30 last year, law enforcement officials in Oakland County executed a search warrant for the former Busch residence on Morningview Terrace Drive. The heating and cooling ducts in the forced air system were vacuumed in an effort to dislodge possible evidence such as hairs or fibers.
"We've had this name since the fall of '07," says Chris King. "They didn't even start to gather evidence until a year later: the fall of '08. And now they won't tell us what tests are done, what tests are not done or when those tests might be done. That's all we've asked for. We just want the truth to come out."
Oakland County child killings
Last Updated: October 26. 2009 1:00AM
Timeline: The Oakland County child killings
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