Protect and serve (yourself)

Come on, man.

Don’t let this sergeant bring his own water bottle to sentencing.

Double-down, bob and weave and the path of most resistance.

Consider this analysis from the counsel for the nonprofit International Association of Police Chiefs:

“An apology for wrongdoing can reduce the potential for litigation and liability and also help maintain or restore public trust. Refusing to admit wrongdoing may cause greater problems than the wrongdoing itself. Most agree that public officials would be better off if they simply admitted their transgressions, apologized, and sought forgiveness. In recognition of these principles, some law enforcement agencies have developed standard operating procedures for use of apology and expressions of regret as risk management tools.”

Covering up wrongdoing and mistakes is the antithesis of admitting transgressions, apologizing and seeking forgiveness. The damage to the public trust is profound and cumulative. It infects the culture of law enforcement agencies, including prosecutors’ offices. If nothing else, these agencies can appreciate risk management if they can’t analyze their failures and commit to a course correction.

How ironic then is the twisting of the message of St. Thomas More by certain lawyers in Michigan? St. Thomas More is the patron saint of lawmakers and politicians, who during his life was a public servant committed to moral integrity. Moral. Integrity.

Southern Baptist Convention says Justice Department is investigating denomination

Leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention said Friday that several of the denomination’s major entities are under investigation by the U.S.
— Read on

Early Results on DNA Evidence From Decades-Old Rape Cases Are Both Promising and Alarming — ProPublica

Baltimore County police have started testing a backlog of evidence from rape cold cases. Ten of 49 cases processed so far have yielded actionable DNA profiles. In at least one case, the answers came too late.
— Read on

Congratulations to Detroit Radio Legend Dick Haefner

Who was inducted into the Michigan Association Broadcasters Hall of Fame.

As concerns the OCCK case, the final paragraph says it well:

“Haefner broke one of the most tragic and long-running mysteries in local history.  He first reported the existence of “The Oakland County Child Killer” the day after Christmas 1976, following the murder of a Royal Oak girl. Haefner said: ‘I could never have imagined we would be doing stories about this 44 years later. The stories haven’t changed that much, except for the duration of time.'”

Talk (and actually listen) to retired journalist and author Marney Keenan, talk to me and read Guarded by Jackals ( and you’ll understand why we are still talking about this case.

Thanks to a reader.

Cracking Cold Cases

Take a listen to Fresh Air’s Dave Davies interview retired cold case investigator Paul Holes about his book Unmasked and the emotional toll of working these types of cases: 

Thanks to a reader.

Detroit-Area Man Held in 25-Year-Old St. Clair County Death

PORT HURON, Mich. (AP) — A suburban Detroit man has been charged in connection with the slaying of a St. Clair County woman 25 years ago.
— Read on

Michigan State Police. Cold case investigation in 2007. Second MSP cold case investigation initiated in 2019 where they leveraged “scientific and technological advances” to make this arrest.

The Federal Homicide Victims’ Families’ Rights Act

The newly passed bipartisan Homicide Victims’ Families’ Rights Act is rooted in a well-intentioned attempt to address the anguish and damage to society caused by the failure to solve cold case murders, and to bring more resources to bear on cases stuck in time and trapped by agency group think and ego.  The bill was introduced by two former prosecutors turned congressmen, who are well-versed in the pitfalls of cold case investigations.  It is a recognition of the quickly evolving DNA and genetic genealogy technology that has become available, and which is too often resisted by old school law enforcement agencies who refuse to be brought into the 21st Century.  

It also recognizes the obvious axiom that a cold case should be evaluated with fresh eyes and not by people tasked with reaffirming the actions or inaction of predecessors or keeping the case perpetually “open.”  The law specifically prohibits previous investigators from leading a renewed probe.  It also instructs agencies to keep families of murder victims informed of the case status.  These are things that should be obvious to any real cold case investigator, but apparently only in make-believe land. 

It also can be said to recognize the reality that the actions of an agency in a cold case investigation like the OCCK affect the reputation of law enforcement as a whole and that, as Dr. Michael Arntfield explains in his book How to Solve a Cold Case (Collins/HarperCollins 2022, p. 95), cold case mismanagement is in fact a breach of the public trust.  

I took a closer look at HR 3359 and while I think it could provide great benefit in some cold cases around the country, I don’t take a lot of comfort from it in the 45-year-old murder of my brother Tim.  Here is the new law:

As I read the law, the 1977 murder of my brother would qualify as a cold case murder under Sec. 11 and Sec. 12 (1)-(6) (A) and (B). Tim’s abduction and murder was previously investigated by a Federal law enforcement entity.  I know that because I was interviewed myself by an FBI agent in my parents’ living room in the days after Tim’s abduction.  I know the FBI interviewed Doug Wilson, a witness from the evening Tim was abducted and were present when he was hypnotized.  I know Agent Mort Nickels (sp?) worked with the task force in 1977 and 1978 to try to establish the make and model of the car that left a bumper impression in the snow near Kristine Mihelich’s body, the child murdered weeks before Tim was.  I know that Agent John Oulette worked with the “rejuvenated” task force post-2005 and that after he retired Agent Sean Callaghan replaced him and that he has been present at many meetings about this case. 

The trouble is when you get to Section 12 (6) (C) and (D)–all probative investigative leads have been exhausted and no likely perpetrator has been identified.  Stick with me here, but the law also gives complete discretion and authority to the head of the federal agency (here, presumably the FBI because even an application to the DOJ would presumably be investigated by the FBI) to determine if the case merits a full reinvestigation.  Section 2 (a). Once this determination is made, there is no right of appeal or judicial review.  Consider Section 8 (5).   No request can be made again within five years unless there is “newly discovered, materially significant evidence.”  Section 6 (a) (b). 

So, assuming it would be the head of the Detroit office of the FBI making such a determination on a full reinvestigation, what is to keep him/her from determining all probative leads have not been exhausted (because they HAVEN’T!) and that no likely perpetrator has been identified (BECAUSE AT LEAST ONE HAS) and rejecting the application?  There is no mechanism for a determination that the agency is in fact stonewalling to slow walk or scramble probative leads and to say “so what?!” to a likely perpetrator.  What I’m trying to say is that the OCCK case is not some stalled-out investigation by agencies with no funds and a small staff.  It is a purposely jammed-up investigation that this law really does not address.  

In that regard, contemplate Section 10, “Multiple Agencies,” and try to envision the numerous agencies involved in the OCCK case coordinating to make sure there is “only one joint case file review or full reinvestigation occurring at one time,” and the prohibition of multiple concurrent reviews (Section 2 (f) and Section 4 (d)).

Furthermore, the law does not contemplate any enforcement for at least one year.  Section 8 gives agencies one year to promulgate regulations to carry out this law and to train employees and officers to comply with its requirements, including disciplinary sanctions for employees who willfully or wantonly fail to comply.  Note that the head of the agency is the final arbiter of whether such failure occurred and the determination is not subject to judicial review.  Section 8 (b)(5).

Section 3 requires each agency to develop a written application for a family member to fill out to request a case file review.  When or how this is to occur is not specified.  And how is a family member without the resources to file FOIA requests and hire attorneys to assist in this endeavor supposed to fill in the blanks for the agency head about what investigative steps or follow-up was missed in the initial investigation; whether witnesses should be interviewed or reinterviewed; or whether the most current investigative standards have been used on physical evidence?  How am I supposed to know what the police won’t tell me or forbid others from sharing with me?  After I fill out my “application,” no matter how well-supported, how likely is it that some guy at the Detroit FBI office just calls the state police or Oakland County and gets told a line of bullshit “oh, we’re working on it, still getting the physical evidence together and willing to pursue any genetic genealogy leads!”  My application gets rejected, don’t come back for five years.  “I’m sorry ma’am, but the state agencies are still working the case and we can’t share any information without compromising our hot leads. Trust us.”  I just don’t see where there is any real oversight in a case as messed up as the OCCK investigation where the lead agencies (MSP and the OCS, according to the FBI) are deceptive and manipulative.

Will it be my job to point out all of the deficiencies in the investigation and the leads that are still not extinguished, with a final demand that at the very least a Federal agency ensures the MSP runs all of the evidence through a third party lab and pinky-swears to legitimately investigate any leads developed through genetic genealogy and the network of any such suspect (since it is obvious multiple men were involved in this murder)? And announces the results or lack thereof to the public?! No law enforcement agency or prosecutor has addressed this case publicly since the fabrication-filled press conference given by Jessica Cooper in July 2012, or the bluster-filled bullshit tossed by L. Brooks Patterson in response to interviews conducted by local media in the wake of a documentary on the OCCK case in 2018. The MSP never answers questions because they never inform the public what they are doing in this case. Big secrets in a 45-year-old case.

I guess the only good that might come out of filing such an application in the OCCK case would be that somebody, somewhere, would be required to file a report which would reflect the unsolved cold case murders being handled by the MSP and Oakland County and that some time in 2025 the National Institute of Justice will publish annual statistics concerning the OCCK case and the agencies that have dropped the ball.  This would apparently go on until the end of time. Kind of an annual Hall of Shame.

I’m sorry, that just doesn’t do much for me.

Biden signs bipartisan cold case law establishing federal right to request review for victims’ families | Fox News

The Homicide Victims’ Families Rights Act establishes a federal right for cold case victims’ families to request reviews of evidence and updates on case files.
— Read on

Not sure how this legislation would work in the OCCK case, but the reasons behind this law certainly resonate.

Happy Death Day

Ya depraved self-servant.

I will use the anniversary of the passing of Oakland County “hero” L. Brooks Patterson to reprise the all-time best comment on my blog, ever:


It should be understood there WAS another cunning power broker working to manipulate outcomes at the time of the OCCK.

L. Brooks Patterson.

In November of 1975, the underground newspaper The Ann Arbor Sun published a well researched and very public take down of the then Oakland County Prosecutor.  The article is titled “Naked Came the Prosecutor”.

Looking back over the decades, the opening line written by reporter Maureen McDonald rings like an urgent alarm on the disasters that lay ahead:

“The darling of the media and leading Young Republican protege, L. Brooks Patterson has parlayed the “evils” of welfare, parole, drunk-driving, drugs and “obscenity” into the most saleable political package the suburban county has ever seen. While Patterson gets great press for his attacks on people who are easily prosecuted and often can’t afford the cost of a trial lawyer. The SUN’s sources indicate that the charismatic young  leader may be looking the other way on tougher challenges like organized crime and political corruption in his jurisdiction.”

2 months after this article ran, Mark Stebbins was murdered.

Patterson found his political voice in latching on to useful idiots he could play like a Stradivarius.  In the early 1970’s he rose to prominence exploiting the racial tensions over things like busing and chasing down welfare cheats.  He didn’t just play the race card, he spoiled the whole deck.  He catered to that elite slice of Oakland County, the Bloomfield’s and the Cranbrook’s.  The rounds of golf at Oakland Hills.  The happy hours.  Patterson was able to cultivate that cult of personality because of his hold on and ability to manipulate the Detroit media.  Patterson would conduct a masterclass of beguiling reporters with his camera ready looks, couched in the style of a wise-cracking tough guy who wasn’t afraid of a microphone or television camera.  Outside of reporters like Maureen McDonald, Patterson enjoyed a fawning media apparatus which in 1976 and 1977 essentially created a safe space for the prosecutor to operate well outside of conventional boundaries, including constitutional limits.  

Patterson’s hands were ALL OVER the OCCK investigation.  

Notably, Patterson was influential in allowing “psychic sleuth” Bruce Danto to “collaborate” with the task force, a colossal error which essentially ended all chances of solving the entire case.  Patterson would even admit in the following years that the series of traffic stops initiated in ’77 on Squirrel Rd, set up under the direction of Bruce Danto’s “subliminal” messages to the killer in the hopes he would take the bait, were unconstitutional.  He chuckled when relaying that tidbit, as if to suggest he couldn’t quite believe it himself.

It is important to note that during this time, instead of running his office as prosecutor, Patterson was running for higher office.  He was barnstorming the state in 77 and 78 in an attempt to win the US Senate seat in Michigan.  The only usefulness for Patterson in regards to the OCCK investigation was to perpetuate it, in order to affect more media attention.  The goal wasn’t to catch the killer, the goal was to make everyone AFRAID of the killer, ostensibly so Patterson could swoop in and crack the case.

Until they didn’t.

When they found Busch dead after his “suicide” in 1978 you know that their blood ran cold.  They had this guy.  He had been on the radar the whole time.  For crying out loud, Patterson’s #2 Dick Thompson went up to Flint in the middle of a blizzard to interview these guys.  

While the scene at Morningside was a little “too” tidy with evidence screaming “I DID IT”, and certainly suggests something off and staged, the conspiracy starts to show some cracks because Patterson would not have missed an opportunity to crack the case and declare they that found the killer, GM and H. Lee Busch be damned.  The problem was that Brooksy, Dick Thompson, Cabot and the MSP apparatus knew they missed the ball and a little boy was dead because of it.  They covered it up to protect and maintain their own careers.  If the truth had been exposed in 1978, L Brooks Patterson’s career, and that of a few others would have been demolished. Forget the Senate, forget running for Governor.

Who can orchestrate a cover up better than the man in charge of actually pressing the charges?  Who requests the warrants?  No evidence – no case.  No killer – no problem.  
“Maybe he’s dead” they said in ’78.  “Maybe he’s locked up”  It’s all just a bad dream.  Have another drink.  Go back to bed.  

And how quickly the task force folded after Busch’s death.

After losing the Senate race in ’78, Patterson remained the county prosecutor, occasionally taking on cases himself, crusading against strip clubs and advocating for capital punishment. Hollow crusades only intended to placate the base.  All while organized crime, child pornography rings and a child killing monster(s) were allowed to roam free.

Patterson has the dubious distinction of presiding over the county prosecutors office at a time where both the Jimmy Hoffa and the OCCK crimes occurred.  While not necessarily connected, both have obvious ties to different layers of organized crime.  Hoffa’s disappearance traded in the same currency as those with interested in profiteering from child pornography.  And it was all going down in Oakland County.  And L. Brooks chose to look the other way.  

It wasn’t just Cass.  It was Cass Lake.  It was scumbags in suits trading kids like playing cards. And they had the freedom because they must have known on some level they were protected.

I too grew up in the middle of that invisible milieu, invisible right up until the bodies started piling up and fear leeched into the bedrooms and bus stops as children were bombarded with confusing and contradictory messages about strangers and trusting adults.  

The corruption, or lack of will was already baked in.  

Yes, this case stands as a textbook example of facts falling through the cracks because of infighting among different jurisdictions. Yes, all of this happens against the backdrop of the late 1970’s, an age where the detective work required to solve these crimes was still in its infancy. Multiple mistakes were made.  There was a woeful lack of coordination and cooperation. from the start and continued for two years as the investigation unfolded.  But Patterson was in that very unique position of one being able to disseminate evidence and information as he saw fit – always looking at how it would benefit him.  No deals.  Until there is a deal.

I was astonished to read that during that time Patterson refused to reach out to your family in person.  It makes sense.  While he might be able to help you, you couldn’t do anything for him. That, to Brooks Patterson, amounted to a waste of time. And four families suffered horribly for it.  An an entire generation of (then) children in Metro Detroit remain traumatized to this day.

Chillingly, shortly before his death, Patterson gave an interview in which he said his “biggest disappointment was that of the Oakland County Child Killer, was never identified.”

What a choice of words.  He took his secrets to the grave, but subconsciously implicated himself in the process.

I will continue to follow this along with so many others. Thank you for the courage in sharing your family’s personal story.


See comments dated April 24, 2020

I would merely add that after reading the analysis in Guarded by Jackals, I know longer believe Patterson, Thompson, Cabot, et al, merely missed the ball. They hid the ball the last week of January and first few days of February, 1977. I agree that their blood ran cold when they learned Tim King was abducted on March 16, 1977, less than 3 miles from their old friend H. Lee’s house, but mostly because they knew one of the killers was out on the street due to prosecutorial and polygraph mischief, not just because of misfeasance. Then the ice water had to course through their veins for the rest of time. I don’t know how you lived with yourself or how some of your bag men still do. That is an awful lot of audacity to store, along with some next-level compartmentalization skills.