Forty-two Winter Solstices have passed since the abduction and murder of Mark Stebbins, the first acknowledged victim of the Oakland County child killers, in February 1976. Forty-one more Christmases have passed since Jill Robinson, the second acknowledged victim of these animals, was abducted and murdered and her body dumped in the early-morning hours of Christmas Day in 1976. Think about that. Someone’s son, brother, friend, relative, kept an abducted child captive in the days leading up to Christmas, then murdered her on Christmas.
Winter solstice, when the night is longest and the day shortest. There has been no daylight in these cases; darkness never seems to give way to light here. We have had only brief glimpses of what we can probably gather are some truths in this case. As Sir Thomas More said “If honor were profitable, everybody would be honorable.” But this case was meant to stay in the dark. Darkness that kept getting other kids abducted, tortured and murdered. That darkness protected those least entitled to protection, and the list includes more than just the killers. It includes relatives, friends and acquaintances of the killers, those who chose profit over honor, and those who wanted to save face rather than do the right thing. People who kept their mouths shut and somehow managed to live with themselves for over four decades. In fairness, some of these people did come forward, only to be shut down by those who had control of the narrative of this crime.
Yet DNA and genetic genealogy made 2018 “the year of the cold case: ‘Biggest crime-fighting breakthrough in decades.’” https://www.foxnews.com/us/dna-genetic-genealogy-made-2018-the-year-old-the-cold-case-biggest-crime-fighting-breakthrough-in-decades But darkness persists in these cases. It’s no surprise, really, because back in the day DNA testing did not exist. It’s no surprise especially because when this investigation got shut down hard by those at the top back in the day, there was no concern for evidence preservation. The less of that stuff the better; it won’t be needed.
Where did the suitcase full of child pornography found in a search of Busch’s residence in January 1977 go? Where are the Polaroids of children Greg Green told police about, wrapped in foil and buried in a yard (carefully described in the notes of one of his interrogations in January 1977)? Why were hairs found on both Mark and Tim found to be from the same source only many decades later? Did no one think to compare this evidence until after 2014? Why were hairs found on Tim missing for decades, mislabeled as animal hairs? Why did people like Ray Anger of the Berkley Police Department and life-long, member emeritus of the “task force” continue to maintain for decades that there was no evidence—zero evidence!–in this case?
Why would the actual evidence in these cases be used, as I have been told more than once, in Michigan State Police POST training? Why is a hair found on Kristine and matched to a teenage male victim of Chris Busch worth nothing, when a hair found in a trunk of convicted pedophile Arch Sloan’s Bonneville allegedly matching hairs found on both Mark and Tim, but thus far matched to no one, worth everything? In a case like this, the serial abduction, captivity, torture and murder of four children, meticulous evidence preservation would have been called for, even in the dark ages of 1976-1978. All the many reincarnations of the “task force” over the years—the many hand-offs—why did it take an outside detective to relentlessly and to his detriment force this issue on the MSP after 2005? Because the idea was that no one was ever going to go there. Fuck it. We know how to end this thing. “No comment; open case.” Open forever.
The truth would have helped here. Even a little bit of it. But it’s too late for that. Now we need the come-clean kind of truth. The kind of truth you don’t get in a case like this unless someone comes forward. Someone from the inside and I mean someone from or close to the Oakland County Prosecutor’s office from back in the day. Someone who is not afraid of L. Brooks Patterson or Richard Thompson, two now-old men who ultimately screwed over the victims, the families, the communities and every honest cop who ever worked on this case. Not some shitty, god-awful, cowardly pedophile working in the prison garden and chowing his three prison meals a day. A whistle-blower. This case involves one of the biggest cover-ups in history. If you think this is impossible, or that I am simply paranoid, think again. This is exactly the kind of case where something like this would happen. Nobody else died in this case, so who cares, right? No lawsuits are filed, no explanations or apologies are needed. Ever. A couple kids were sadly just collateral damage and their families will be too weakened and damaged to question a thing. For the rest, Oakland County was safe once more.
Nina Innsted has a new long-form podcast called “Don’t Talk to Strangers,” addressing the child murders in metro Detroit in 1976 and 1977, including the OCCK cases.
I took down the letter written by the man who thought he saw Tim while he was missing. I learned this morning that police did speak with him back in 2015 and determined the man was trying to help but was not entirely believable. The letter was sent to my Dad’s address. He opened the letter and gave a copy to police before forwarding it to me. It was, I guess, just an example of what happens in a case like this.
This is how much my Dad paid to obtain the documents he requested from the Michigan State Police, via the Freedom of Information Act. Keep in mind that the FOIA request was only for documents pertaining to Christopher Busch and Gregory Green. Also keep in mind that this amount did not include attorney fees incurred for this request. Finally, ask yourself how much any media outlet or anyone else has paid for FOIA documents in comparison. Realize that my Dad shared these documents with anyone willing to pay to copy them. And some he gave away freely. I wonder what the final tab was for Mardi Link’s FOIA requests in the the Robison case and whether the documents she obtained had all kinds of shit redacted.
At least they do when it comes to the murder of the Robison family in Northern Michigan some 50 years ago. Nina Instead, host and writer/producer of Already Gone, a true crime podcast focusing on crimes from the Detroit area (http://www.alreadygonepodcast.com/author/admin/), sent me a link this morning:
Yes, those considerate folks up north are having a series of forums to discuss this open murder investigation to put rumors to rest. In my blog post of January 20, 2014 (“Someone should write a book”), I discussed a book written about these murders by Mardi Link. In that post, I highlight the differences in the way the Michigan State Police and other law enforcement agencies, including prosecutors, freely worked with Ms. Link to help her with her book, and the massive stonewalling that has gone on in the OCCK case.
Read about these forums those kind folk up north are having, and consider how law enforcement and officials have treated the four kids, their family and friends, and the community in the OCCK case. Consider that they shut down any legitimate discussion of this case, refuse to produce documents except under court order or threat of court order, and when they do, they are ridiculously redacted. No one bothers one bit with any thought of the reputation of Joseph Scolaro or any of his living family members. Also consider that my Dad, at close to age 90, has spoken with local women’s and men’s groups about the investigation in this case. Nobody from law enforcement is there to answer questions. The audiences are small. There is no “pre-Halloween” final forum on these murders, unlike the ghastly murder of the Robisons.
About these standing-room only forums, Link observed:
“I think it’s unprecedented,” author Mardi Link said of this year’s traveling presentations. “I don’t know of any other case where this has happened.” Link – who penned “When Evil Came to Good Hart” in 2008 and recently refreshed it for republishing this year – said she’s been struck by the size of the sold-out audiences. She thinks it’s because of how this case has resonated with the Up North community as a whole.
“People care,” she said. “This was an entire family. It wasn’t just a movie. It wasn’t a novel. It was a real family who had people who loved and cared about them.”
Really? These were four kids who had entire families who had people who loved and cared about them. They were not shot. They were held captive for days (and Kristine for weeks), tortured and then suffocated. Yet here there are no forums, no explanations, no honesty or integrity.
Consider how easy the Michigan State Police and local authorities made it for Mardi Link to write this book about an OPEN case. You can say Scolero, who died by suicide, was the obvious murderer. But you could also say that about Chris Busch, who also died by “suicide” in the OCCK case. From my previous post in 2014, based on an email I sent my family years before that:
Link explains in a web article that she had always been fascinated by the Robison case, being the same age as young Susie Robison the summer of 1968. “The self-proclaimed Court TV addict pitched the project to an editor through ‘a blind e-mail.’ ‘She responded (and) voila, I had a book contract,’ Link said. She filed Freedom of Information Act requests, obtained files from Emmet County and the Michigan State Police and interviewed Good Hart locals. The publisher’s approval came in March 2007 and by November, Link turned in the book.” http://record-eagle.com/features/x75055214/Author-fascinated-by-the-Robison-case “’I was trying to tell, from various angles, what really happened,” she said. ‘The main character of the book is really the investigation.’”
Link’s obvious conclusion that Scolaro was either the killer or the person who hired the killer(s) is one long-held by the MSP detectives who worked on this case, as well as the Emmet County Sheriff’s office. In 2002 it was announced that three pubic hairs found on Shirley Robison’s body would be retested and that her clothing would be reexamined for DNA evidence. Unfortunately, the evidence turned out to be too degraded. This result was made public.
Interesting that such a comprehensive book is written about a case that is still open. But it turns out that Link had quite a bit of help and a lot of file access.
First, in her acknowledgements, Ms. Link explains that “Sheriff Pete Wallin and Detective J. L. Sumpter of the Emmet County Sheriff’s Office graciously opened up their exhaustive records on the case and provided me with their own personal observations and wisdom, which was invaluable.” Hmm, I wonder if the B’ham , Berkley, or other local PDs would do the same in our case? “Thank you, Shannon Akans and Linda Ortiz of the Michigan State Police, for ACCESS to that agency’s WELL-ORGANIZED, BEHEMOTH FILE ON THE CASE. I am proud to be a citizen of a state that has the Michigan State Police looking out for our welfare.” [Really?!] The photographs in Ms. Link’s book are “courtesy of the Michigan State Police.” Wow. Definitely a Kool-aid drinker, but you can see why—she owes her first book to them and she is now working on a second book about a different murder. Thank god for the MSP and their willingness to provide “an open book” on the Robison murders! I bet you all sleep better knowing the MSP is looking out for your welfare.
“A Note to Readers” explains that: “This is a true story. It was written nearly forty years after the murder of the Robison family, and many of the people you will meet in these pages were deceased long before I began writing about them. METICULOUS RECORDS OF THE CASE WERE KEPT BY BOTH THE MICHIGAN STATE POLICE AND THE EMMET COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE, INCLUDING WRITTEN INTERVIEWS OF FRIENDS, FAMILY MEMBERS, BUSINESS ASSOCIATES, SUSPECTS AND OTHERS IN THE MIDST, AND ON THE FRINGES OF, THE INVESTIGATION.” Records that Ms. Link was allowed to review in this still-open investigation. This included a 300-page report which was the “result of eighteen months of meticulous police work by detectives who had investigated the Robison case.” In it all of the pertinent details were forged into a single narrative. Link describes the report:
“Here together for the first time was all of the background research, all of the interviews, the polygraph test results, the lab and autopsy results, and of course those crucial ballistics determinations. The three-hundred-page report was physically heavy, but also loaded down with human expectations. So precious was their package that to Detectives Stearns and Flis [MSP], who drove north in order to hand-deliver their report safely into the care of prosecutor Donald G. Noggle, it must have felt like they were handing over pages plated with 14-carat gold.”
Prosecutor Noggle later determined there was not enough evidence to file charges against Scolaro. State Attorney General Frank Kelley backed up Noggle’s decision.
Now, if Link can read these meticulous records, stellar written interviews and the gold-plated 300-page report in the still-open Robison murder investigation, why the fuck can’t we look at the records and whatever else they have in the still-open OCCK case?! Bring on the gold-plated power point, boys. Let’s see what you’ve got.
In 1973, the MSP and Emmet Co. sheriff went to the Oakland County Prosecutor, L. Brooks Patterson, to find a way to sidestep the Emett County prosecutor. Rumor was that OC was going to issue an arrest warrant for Joseph Scolaro based upon conspiracy to commit murder charges. When Scalaro caught wind of the imminent conspiracy charges, he offed himself in May 1973. Like Chris Busch, he ended up in the Wm R. Hamilton Funeral Home, two blocks from our family’s house in Birmingham. I wonder if he was also cremated. I’m sure it was a good option for people who had concern about hair and fingerprint evidence, just as it is today for obliterating DNA evidence not already in some database.
As previously mentioned, in 2002, Emmet Co. Sheriff Wallin asked the MSP Forensic Science Division to conduct DNA testing in the Robison case. Catch this: “Before the lab work was started, money, and a lot of it, happened to become available for tests on old DNA evidence. In March 2003, the Forensic Science Division received a $1.4 million federal grant to conduct DNA testing on cold cases. The grant allowed the Grayling laboratory to select 175 cases from around the state in which there were “existing biological samples” and to test them. The idea behind the grant was that these biological samples would be entered into CODIS (Combined DNA Indexing System), the national crime-fighting DNA database, and checked against existing records. Adding 175 new cases would also expand the scope of the database itself.” I am quite sure the OCCK case was never considered as one of the 175.
Emmett Co. detective J.L Sumpter was interviewed about the Robison case in 2007. He said: “There is just something about this case. Once you know a little bit about it, you want to know more. No, you don’t just want to know more, you have to know more. It’s like it’s contagious, and what you catch from it is obsession.”
So when you hear law enforcement and prosecutors, past and present, complaining bitterly about the books that will continue to be written about the OCCK case, about podcast and documentaries and other media coverage which might follow, ask yourself if there had been even a modicum of transparency in this case, if they would have been pitted against the public, the kids who were murdered, and against history like they will be. People who do bad things are bad people. And so are the people who cover up for them.
“The narrative about the crimes is like a fucking black hole of evil and disgrace from which even light can’t escape.”Posted: September 15, 2018
Thank you to the reader who sent this observation after reading The Kill Jar, by J. Reuben Appelman. This description is so accurate, I wish I could take credit for it. I also want to point out that since Appelman’s book was released, more than a handful of people have taken the time to find my email and write to say that they were almost abducted in Oakland County during the time period of 1975-1978. I maintain that this was a prime hunting ground for kid victims because it was an area where police focused on traffic control and property crimes. Pedophelia? Child pornography? Rape? What are you talking about? Oakland County, you didn’t keep up with your prolific pedophiles and children died as a result. Your Hamlet turned into Hell, and you did everything you could to hide that fact.
The list of people who created this black hole pales in comparison to the list of current-day people who have added to the disgrace. I hope you are all some day soon revealed and, again as my close friend observed, “that you spend days in hell before you end up there.”
There are a wide variety of candidates, and they have one thing in common: Covering. Their. Asses. You will suffer no real repercussions, to new sure, but may you be revealed and reviled for what and who you are. May you look in the mirror for the rest of your life, and that of your children and grandchildren, and know what you wrought. Watch your grandchild play in the park and think about what you let happen.
And may the public come to a new understanding of how important local politics are. Your prosecutors, your police chief, the people they hire. Don’t ignore the shit right under your noses. When something stinks, trust your instincts. Or don’t. Worry about your new deck or your new kitchen remodel.
Birmingham residents–everyone felt the same way you do now on March 15, 1977. Do you really think what happened to my brother couldn’t happen to your kid? To your family? Do you have a prosecuting attorney who has a global agenda, or a personal, vindictive agenda? I know you don’t worry about this shit; you are worried about getting your kids into the best college they can get into. If you are young enough, you remember nothing of these crimes. But trust me, your community is lined like a bad tin can with the evil shit that caused law enforcement and your people to turn the other way. That is who you are. It’s your fabric and your history. It is all of you who refused to file charges when you found out the perpetrator was the son of a GM executive. It is the neighbor who kept her mouth shut because she loved her little world on Morningview Terrace. And here’s the deal–you fuckers should have come forward so victims of these child molesters didn’t have to. Your soul should carry this weight rather than the rest of us.
A word to Ted Lamborgine and Arch Sloan–incarcerated in Michigan, presumably for the rest of their lives. You motherfucking pieces of shit may well have been involved in these crimes. I have often thought of writing you, but I will not waste my time. You are both liars and I’m sure “have found God.” Whatever god you have found is a false god. I hope you both die lonely deaths in prison. I won’t wish on you what you did to young kids. “God has forgiven me,” said Lamborgine. The fuck he has, you worthless piece of garbage. Your minister is also a piece of shit. The Universe does not give a pass to either of you. And, Mr. Minister–you are a dumbass, like many alleged followers of “god” calling yourselves “christians.” I bet you like Ted’s $$. Let me tell you this, Mr. Minister: your little lamb is a fucking monster. FUCKING MONSTER. The kind of monster that even money can’t forgive. You all make religion what I know it to be: BULLSHIT. Your followers are exactly the pieces of shit we have come to know: I need say nothing, because God has forgiven me. Really? What say your victims, motherfuckers? Trust me, I know Ted is an animal and that any “church” taking his “donations,” is what I would describe in layman’s terms as EVIL. I look forward to discussing this with you, you Men of God. Or your mothers. Just like I would enjoy the chance to speak with Garry Gray and David Robertson, men of God from the Michigan State Police department who “worked” on my brother’s case. Let’s have a chat, now that you are both retired, shall we? Email me at email@example.com–but you know that address from when you guys hacked me, don’t you?
And here’s the deal with other men who have been associated in a more remote way to these crimes, but also incarcerated for crimes (not sex crimes)–and understandably given their backgrounds: This is your last chance. How much is your soul worth? I know you don’t care about me, but how about those four little kids? Four kids that were treated even worse than you were? Who is going to go after you now? All these motherfuckers are old now–even Jim Cox. It may actually be a new day–where cops can’t off people whenever they want and get away with it. When the cops can’t get a pass because they let a maniacal pedophile have a cop badge so they can help bust other criminals. HOW MUCH IS YOUR SOUL WORTH?
You are what you do. If you do bad things, you are bad. If you decide to fucking follow that path, no one can stop you. If you decide to come clean–even if you are coming clean as a victim who helped victimize others, I think there is some opening to forgiveness. It’s darkness or something less than darkness. I realize the choice sucks. But how many more years do you have to live? How much more pain can you inflict before you die?
Oh, and a shout out to police agencies properly cataloging and storing old evidence in murder and rape cases. And maybe even in “suicide” cases that may be related to serial killings.