In May 2011, one of my brothers, my Dad, Kristine Michelich’s sister and I spent most of a Saturday talking with and being interviewed by M. Williams Phelps, host of the Investigation Discovery Channel’s “Dark Minds.” Phelps and his crew had spent a few days in Birmingham prior to this, interviewing police and the retired Wayne County Medical Examiner who conducted Tim’s autopsy. The guy was a quick study and all of them agreed that only the surface could be scratched in this case in a one-hour show.
The show would not air for many months. When it did, it had the very effect so dreaded by the MSP detective who spoke to my Dad and brother six years ago—it shook loose some leads. All presumed to be useless, I’m sure. Given my experience with them and that of others who have contacted me over the past six years, any lead that went solely to the MSP will never be fully investigated. People reasonably assume that as family members we will have more power to get the police to take these leads seriously. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The police liked us when we were compliant, grateful victims who were happy to hear that the police were still even bothering with this very old case. When we started asking real questions and went to the media after getting completely stonewalled, it was war. No more hand holding—we broke the rules by doubting them and talking about it. I am talking open hostility from some agencies. It is re-victimization in its purest form—by the very people who are supposed to protect society and solve crimes. Oh, and by the way, they have governmental immunity and don’t have to tell anybody squat because this is, and by design always will be, an “open investigation.” And it’s a good thing, I guess, for those who dropped the ball, those who hid the weenie as it were, and any Dirty Harry Callahan Inspector 71’s from back in the day. Everybody who is anybody wins, right? Nobody else counts, least of all those four dead kids, who we can’t bring back anyway.
The OCCK abductions and murders were not the perfect crimes. That’s what the police wanted the communities to think—this man/men were so diabolical and cunning that no agency would have been able to solve this crime no matter what. Of course no one could foresee the advances in forensic science. But evidence storage was pretty straightforward back then if you followed the rules. I’m sure if the MSP had known that DNA would not just be three letters from the alphabet, they sure as hell would have saved those ligatures, filed evidence correctly and done things differently in the most heinous unsolved crime in Michigan history.
The way this investigation has been locked down—for whatever reasons—is much closer to a perfect crime. It has given investigators the ability to opine whenever asked that “oh man, the case will never be solved.” Heard it a bunch of times myself from various cops. Too bad, so sad, but thank god the killings stopped, right? The MSP takes over the investigation—the FBI is/isn’t involved—if you don’t like it, go to the Michigan Attorney General—oh wait!!! He can’t help because, guess what—he represents the MSP as part of his duties! The Department of Justice? Get real.
Some of the people who came forward after the Dark Minds episode aired were smart enough to contact both the police and my Dad or other family members. Some of them were people who had gone early and often to the police, only to be dissed and dismissed time and again. One woman saw the show, saw the side profile mug shot of Christopher Busch and was immediately shocked and sickened because a name was finally put on the face she had seen on March 22, 1977. Christopher Busch. Her story is further evidence of the fact that the MSP has either no intention or no ability to seriously follow up on leads in spite of the fact that they very publicly “rejuvenated” their OCCK task force in February 2005, as well as of the way this agency treats people who come forward with information and persist in expecting a response.
This is the story she told my Dad after seeing that show. She has since told me the same story. Her story has never changed. Her tip to the Birmingham Police Department on the afternoon of March 22—hours before my brother’s body would be found, still warm, in a ditch in Livonia, MI—was not taken seriously. When she went to the task force time and again, her information was cavalierly dismissed. And, in the ultimate irony, she is now in the position of having a relative retaliated against because he is an employee of the MSP. I hope he is taking detailed notes about the intimidation and threats, because that is a lawsuit waiting to happen. I will say this—given what I know about what went on in 1976-1978 and beyond, the higher-food chain of the MSP is certainly consistent.
On the morning of Tuesday, March 22, 1977, this woman saw who she now knows to be Christopher Busch driving my brother Tim on Highway M59 in a Gremlin. My brother’s photos had been all over the news. She said she knew it was Tim King—that he was in the front bucket passenger seat and that Tim turned back and looked at her car—a bright yellow sports car coupe with black stripes and a sunroof. She said she instantly knew it was Tim. She said Tim turned back to look at her car and his chin tilted slightly upward and their eyes met. She said he appeared serene and composed. When she reached her destination at 14 mile and Dequindre for a 9 a.m. meeting, she immediately called the Birmingham PD and reported what she had seen to a male who answered the phone.
To be clear, this witness says she saw Busch with my brother in a Gremlin around 8:30 a.m. She does not remember the color of the Gremlin, but is positive it was a Gremlin.
The tip apparently meant nothing to the cop who took the call. While cops were crawling all over Oakland County, Busch was headed down M59 (this is very relevant) and reached his destination without any problem. By 11 p.m. that evening, my brother’s body was found—still warm, in a ditch in Livonia, a few miles outside of Oakland County and into Wayne County. Although it does no good to speculate, I believe Tim looked serene because this monster had said if he was just good and promised not to tell anyone anything, he would take Tim back home to Birmingham. The toxicology report from his autopsy showed no drugs in his system. He had been fed dinner before he was suffocated. He was bathed right before or soon after he was murdered.
When this woman saw the Dark Minds episode, saw Chris Busch’s mug shots and was instantly returned to that awful morning on March 22, 1977, but now with a name to put to the face, she broke down in tears. She contacted the state police, who not only sent her packing, but not so subtly threatened to ruin the career of a relative of hers in the MSP. As I said, they are consistent. If you want to get a phone call or an email from someone up the food chain at the MSP, be persistent about a tip in this case. If it’s my Dad, they just lie to him and send him packing with “we are working very hard on this, Mr. King, with our limited resources.” If it is someone they think they can bully and get away with it, they are much more base. If they go after this employee any more than they already have because of a relative pursuing a tip she gave to police 36 years ago, I hope an employment attorney nails them to the wall. As I have said, this agency and a few others spend far more time messing with people than they do investigating legitimate leads.
But this story gets better. This woman has some stones. After noting to me that there are so many “walking wounded” in Oakland County who were affected terribly by these crimes—something law enforcement continues to vastly underestimate–she read my blog and called Larry Wasser last week. I ended one of my entries with my desire to speak face-to-face with Mr. Wasser and ask him to explain why he continues to maintain that Patrick Coffey lied about their conversation in Las Vegas in 2006.
A few days ago, this woman called Larry Wasser and this is how she described the call. She introduced herself and said they had never met. She told him she wanted to share that she saw Christopher Busch actually driving the [Gremlin] westbound on M59 with Timothy King sitting in the front passenger seat. Wasser told her she should contact Jessica Cooper’s office (tell me she hasn’t spoken to this man many times since she has been in office while she will never speak directly to my Dad). This woman told him she had called Cooper’s office and they had referred her to a tip line. She then asked him for one more moment, because his voice was choking up and she felt he was responding nervously. She said she wanted him to be aware that there was a blog written by Cathy Broad and he responded that he did not know that name. The woman then said my name was Catherine King Broad, that I was Timothy King’s older sister, and gave him the blog information, spelling the site address. She said she did not ask him one question about the case and that he seemed troubled and then nervous.
Now that takes some stones. And troubled and nervous is how Wasser sounds as I reread the transcript of his interview with detectives in November 2007 after he and his attorney played games so that Wasser could avoid having to give Chris Busch’s name under oath and avoid having to lie about destroying the file related to this client.
This woman’s information about spotting Busch driving my brother on M59 in the hours before his murder is especially disturbing in view of what Wasser says in that interview. I will outline it in the next entry. But I can assure you that, like the way the Doug Wilson information about the 1973 blue-green LeMans with 222 in the license plate was treated, nobody put her information together with the disturbing stuff Wasser said about Busch’s access to places in Sanford/Hillman. Wasser tells detectives: “But here, something else. Now I’m, you better, [ ] not quote me. I’d be really pissed at you, because you quote me and cut it out–I would check this area out, Sanford or Hillman; is that up North?” (FOIA document 01128.) Twice he asks the detectives how long it would take to come down to Oakland County from these more northern cities. (01129.)
Wasser then goes on to say: “Oh, got it, this thing here, but my thing is between us and I’d deny I’m telling you this,” I’d check out this Sanford or Hillman because they have, see whether or not this guys, I don’t know where this is. Where is it?” (Id.) He then goes on to acknowledge that this “up north stuff” does ring a bell. “Something about north. I don’t know, shit, 30 years ago, if there was any evidence up there, it’s [rest of sentence redacted, which is ridiculous in view of their position that Busch is no longer a suspect.]”
Yes, Larry, you are right. If there was any evidence up there, it’s long gone. But the fact that nobody even thought of looking at Chris Busch’s places in Sanford and Hillman, not to mention the parents’ place at Ess Lake is just preposterous. Especially when there was a tip called in to the task force on March 19, 1977, about Christopher Busch being up at Ess Lake with minor boys. The caller knew Busch was on probation for CSC crimes against kids and was not supposed to be around anyone under age 18. She begs police to go to the Ess Lake cottage and this is the week my brother is missing. I’ve read the tip. The file contains no indication that this tip was treated with any sense of urgency and reveals that the woman was contacted three days later, on March 22. The day Tim was murdered. No one went to that cottage in Ess Lake in response to that urgent call.
So let’s review this again—Wasser can’t remember the client’s name at issue (even though it is the son of a wealthy GM CFO), but he remembers that this man was polygraphed at the Flint MSP Post by a man named Ralph Cabot, who was not the regular examiner, that the man was represented by an attorney who is now deceased, that this guy offed himself, he remembers something about the client and “up north” in Michigan, that the client had been in England then returned to stay home for a few days in 1976 just prior to Mark Stebbin’s abduction. But no way in hell is he going to utter the name Chris Busch. No, he wants to be able to just pick up the file and say “it’s gotta be this guy.” Then he can say “I never gave up the name,” and this b.s. technicality can be repeated by FBI Agent Sean Callahan and the great mincer of words, Oakland County APA Paul Walton. How about skipping the discussion about whether Wasser uttered the name Chris Busch when he in fact gave up Busch in a premeditated pantomime and take a look at why no one tossed any of those places Busch lived in and had access to back in the day in Sanford, Hillman–and Alma, where he lived for a few years after his parents bought him a restaurant to run, and Ess Lake. It would take three decades to get a search warrant to search Busch’s parents’ house in affluent Bloomfield Village. After this, by the time investigators get around to checking out the family cottage at Ess Lake, the cabin has been torn down following “storm damage” from a fallen branch and a new building occupies the space. Remember when I asked why absolutely every angle of this case looks so, so bad? Like I said, I couldn’t make this stuff up.