Despite the inability to prosecute, the victims need closure

A reader sent me this article about a serial killing, assaulting man with ties to Michigan dating back to 1979:

Ottawa County detectives believe this animal is responsible for the 1979 sexual assault of a 27-year-old woman in Holland, MI, and the 1989 abduction and attempted rape of a 6-year-old in that county. Detectives noted that DNA testing is advancing daily and investigators plan to retest, saying this freak remains the main suspect. “Despite the inability to prosecute [him], the victims need closure, and police continue to look at other Ottawa County cold cases to see if [he] is the culprit.”

The reader included this message: “Don’t ever give up hope. There are a few in prison who know the truth. All it takes is one honest person, with evidence, and the right anti-corruption investigators, to extrapolate the unweaving of the web.”

“Does the killer know how screwed-up we are in law enforcement or was that just luck?”

I recently wrote about a package I received from a woman who had cold called OCCK Task Force Commander Robert Robertson in 1993 to ask if he would share any insights or information to help her with a “pitch” she was making for a t.v. script based on the child killing cases.

At the end of the post I included a download of all the materials Robertson sent this woman. They are original documents. He had explained to the woman that he had many files from the case in his garage. Robertson included a “cover letter” of sorts–no salutation, no date. He ends with “I trust you will return this material when you have no use for it.” She never returned it and he never asked for it back.

He includes a transcription of his final tape recording for the OCCK file, with an explanation that he made many tapes covering many topics and had asked other task force members to put their thoughts on tape.

If you didn’t read the 10-page transcription of the final tape, consider it now. Rather than editorialize and provoke the predictable handful of readers who would go crazy over my cruelty and my cop-disdain, I will just say this thing speaks for itself in so many ways. As the man himself concludes, “Does the killer know how screwed-up we are in law enforcement, or was that just luck?”

Active and Ongoing.

This is what is needed in the OCCK case. An honest cop. I guess they don’t get honest for 56 years or so, and only on a death bed. Outrageous.

Family of victim in Oakland County Child Killer case speaks out 45 years later

Between 1976 and 1977 someone killed at least four children in Oakland County, Michigan.
— Read on

Tonight and Tomorrow, Virtual Book Discussions

Got it wrong the first time. Tonight is the virtual book discussion of The Snow Killings via Huntington Woods Public Library

Tomorrow is the virtual book discussion via Royal Oak Public Library

Commercial launch of a solution for low input and degraded DNA samples–generating deeper investigative insights

DNA testing continues to evolve. Announced today:

There is a Zoom book discussion of Marney Keenan’s book, The Snow Killings: Inside the Oakland County Child Killer Investigation, through the Huntington Woods Public Library on Wednesday night, February 17, 7-8:30 p.m. EST. Sign up online at

Another virtual book talk is scheduled for Thursday, February 18 at 7 p.m. EST through the Royal Oak Public Library. Sign up via a link at this page:

My brother did not stand a chance.

From a reader:

My name is X and I have been haunted by the unspeakable horror of the OCCK crimes and law enforcement’s subsequent inability and/or unwillingness to officially solve the case for over forty years.  A near miss in my own front yard around 1977/1978 in Franklin, Michigan only served to solidify my terror and fear that I easily could have been another victim. The Franklin police basically dismissed us when we called immediately after the incident because I did not get a license plate (I was 8 years old).  

. . .

While at my first job I attempted to garner interest in this unsolved case as the possible basis for a TV movie.  I was told that I needed more source material to flesh out a narrative to “pitch” as I only had a collection of old newspaper articles and possibly McIntyre’s book.  In 1993 I cold called retired LT. Robert H. Robertson to see if he would share any information or insight to further my efforts.  Shortly thereafter I received a package from him with a sampling of the content from his personal files with handwritten notes and comments. I recall that Robertson said his files were all in his garage.

Robertson’s material seemed appropriately sanitized and was helpful for my purposes of preparing a more detailed treatment/story.  Despite my best efforts to get the story from page to screen over the course of my career in entertainment, I failed to ever get this project launched. At the time no one would touch a serial child murder story with no resolution.

Consequently, Robertson’s package has languished in my file cabinet. . . . I just pulled it out to review after reading Marney’s excellent account of the investigation and your revelatory blog posts. In the context of what is now known, I can’t help but ask if it’s possible that anything here might be useful. Is it even remotely possible that any of this information wasn’t released long ago or disseminated in FOIA documents? I have no idea but I cringe at the thought that I was potentially granted more access to information than the victims’ families. I really hope that I am wrong. 

Handwritten cover letter.
A typed transcript of Robertson’s final in a series of tapes re: the Oakland County Task Force.  He claims to have made many tapes covering many topics and lists examples.
Robertson’s log for first day of task force after Tim’s abduction (these look original-his note says he has a log for each day of the task force).
Copies of pages from Robertson’s notebook for May 17th, May 31st and June 16th, 1977.
A Psych profile from Nicholas Groth, Ph.D/Connecticut Correction Institution.
LEAA-Police Tech. Assistance Report.
ESP File -summary of the case work with psychic Philip Jordan including composite sketches from his visit to Detroit August 1977.
Project Anniversary notes.
Misc. Press releases and WANTED flyers.
Note to Interpol.
Letter from Sheriff’s Office in Yreka, CA re: unsolved child murder/asking if there are similarities to OCCK case.
Chronological Order of Events.
Robertson Synopsis of Special Oakland County Task Force sent to MSP.

NOTE: There’s no mention of Busch anywhere.  But Richard Lawson’s name is written on Robertson’s log from Tuesday May 17th 1977.  
Also he has a note from May 31st 1977 about Belcher/Gill Road incident and failure to show up for a polygraph. Dyer surveillance also noted.
Robertson’s transcript from his own tapes reveals that Birmingham Police erased the tapes of incoming phone calls on March 16, 17, 18, 19th etc. so all of those tips/info was lost. WTF!!!
In the ESP file the psychic mentions a lot of weird stuff.  One impression he “sees” is string art on the wall of the killer(s) apartment.  This was a full month before the John McKinney murder and the fiber art piece by Jane Knight disappeared from his gallery. 

Access to Information

The “citizen science” project described in my last post is a collaboration with Dr. Kathleen Moore and Dylan Lightfoot. To read a little about Dylan, I cannot say it better than Marney Keenan did, so please see Dr. Moore is a professor of Intelligence Analysis, has a PhD in Information Sciences and specializes in cyber intelligence. Her expertise is used to answer complex, real world problems.

Both Lightfoot and Moore were personally impacted by the OCCK crimes. This project, based on documents and research provided by author and retired Detroit News author Marney Keenan and me, is predicated on the hope that information used to empower everyday citizens in research outside of formalized institutions may help build a case here and/or perhaps in other missing/exploited/murdered child cases that may have overlap with persons directly and tangentially involved in the OCCK case. We now know there are many of those persons.

We are in the process of having many thousands of documents from this case digitized and converted into a searchable database. Thank you to a reader who offered today to assist with this heavy task. We hope it will be an effective tool.

The original “old boys network” is dying out. Current roadblocks to justice are weakening. As noted, the timeline and story maps are works in progress and “living” projects. For information regarding the timeline, contact Your information could be very helpful there.

Sadly, no good deed goes unpunished in this most awful of cases. Just ask Patrick Coffey, Cory Williams or Kym Worthy. Meanwhile, obstructionists in law enforcement and the legal system, past and present, continue for now to win the battle. I am deeply grateful to Kathleen, Dylan and Marney for their insight, assistance and willingness to take a stand on the need for transparency in this case. The dynamics of power in this case have come squarely down in favor of predators and their enablers. It is time for that power to shift.

A Much Bigger Picture

This is what can happen when people take a chance and step forward, step outside of convention and make an offer of powerful decency and assistance:

More tomorrow about how this project came together and the two people who put together these powerful tools.


Finally a prosecutor in Oakland County who understands “affluence” doesn’t mean much when adults and children are being victimized by human traffickers. Twenty-year felonies. Throw the book at them.