NORTH FOX ISLAND, CIRCA 1975-76

That ought to set off a few serious Google alerts, as will some of the words and names I mention below.  It will make for interesting reading in the statistics page of my blog, kind of like when my reader from the Netherlands/Denmark checked in a few weeks ago.  Never showed up again, but I’m sure he found a way to enter the site without disclosing a location and I’m sure he’ll be back after today’s post.  I predict a pick-up in site traffic on this post.

As I pointed out in yesterday’s post, in the wake of the arrest of Busch, Greene and Bennett on CSC charges in Flint, Genessee County Prosecutor Robert F. Leonard stated that the defendants may have passed boys from one to another and that the scheme may have had nationwide ties.  He further stated that his office was investigating the possibility that the defendants may have been linked to Grosse Pointe multimillionaire Francis D. Shelden, missing since his “youth camp” on Fox Island turned out to be a pedophile and child porn haven.  That investigation didn’t amount to much.  And Mr. Leonard will get top billing in a subsequent post on my blog.

My brother Mark and I were talking about this Fox Island nightmare recently and he noted how shocking it is that the Fox Island story died once back in the day, and once again when it was revealed in the news over the last 5 years.   As he said,  “I can’t even think of how many boys were violated, and how many powerful people were involved.  There HAVE GOT to be some records with the FBI or other LE.  Just think if the story hit the press today, the outrage and outcry that would happen?”  But there was no outcry back then and the lid is tighter on this file than it is on the OCCK file.  I can only surmise this is because the many perpetrators were the kind of people who had money—and a lot of it–as well as power and prestige.  And their victims were powerless.

The following is based on news articles from 1975-1977 and file documents received pursuant to a FOIA request to the MSP concerning their Fox Island investigation.  The men involved in this pedophile and child pornography ring must have had ice water coursing through their veins.  This is a truly disturbing story with an even more disturbing “end.”  These animals make Jerry Sandusky look like a rank amateur.  But the story never got any traction in spite of excellent and extensive investigative reporting by Traverse City Record-Eagle reporter Marilyn Wright back in the late 1970s.  “Down south,” where most of the big dollar customers and “patrons” came from, the news hardly touched it.  Does anyone who lived through the OCCK nightmare remember hearing about the Fox Island boys “nature camp”—Frank Shelden’s private pedophile retreat–during that time?  

About four months after Mark Stebbins was murdered, charges were filed against three principals of the Fox Island ring.  Marilyn Wright’s detailed reporting on this and other related pedophile rings appeared in the Traverse City newspaper in April 1977,  two weeks after my brother Tim was murdered.  Seems awfully relevant to me, if even to just get the discussion started about why these kids might have been kidnapped and murdered.

Francis (Frank) Shelden came from an extremely wealthy Grosse Pointe, MI, family and was an Ann Arbor, MI, millionaire and philanthropist.  He owned North Fox Island in Lake Michigan–a private island near Traverse City, approximately two miles wide by one mile long, paying $5,000 a year in taxes to Leelanau County.  A Detroit Free Press article dated 12-28-75 describes the generosity of Shelden, a “wealthy Ann Arbor bachelor “ who was on the board of directors of The Cranbrook Institute (a private boys school in suburban Detroit), and Boys Republic, Inc., (a residential center for emotionally disturbed adolescents), who also devoted his time to the Big Brother program.  Funny, Chris Busch was a Big Brother, too.  Greg Greene was a boys’ baseball coach.  Wow, all that community outreach by these model citizens.  They all used the same playbook, and these types still do.  According to a subsequent article by Wright, Shelden’s buddies Dyer Grossman and Gerald Richards tried unsuccessfully to join Big Brother, but their applications were rejected.

What the Free Press article in 1975 missed was that Shelden was also a staff writer in the 1970s for Better Life Monthly (“BL”), a magazine described as representing an international organization “seeking liberation for boys and boy-lovers.”  Coded advertisements allowed subscribers to contact each other and to engage children in pornographic modeling and prostitution.  Child pornographer Gerald Richards (a registered sex offender who apparently died in Port Huron in 1994–thank you to the person who sent me this info), met Shelden around 1974.

Richards was a gym teacher at St. Joseph’s Catholic Elementary School in Dexter, MI, who had run for public office. Some very bad things happened to kids in Dexter back then, according to the police file I looked at. The father of two young kids at the time, Richards was also a child counselor, licensed hypnotist, massage therapist and naturopath.  In fact, he had a “clinic,” which a few child victims (both male and female) describe in great detail in police reports.

Shelden responded to an ad Richards placed in BLM, describing his “magic show.”  The two corresponded and then met.  Richards had been thinking of starting a boys’ camp and when he learned Shelden owned Fox Island, the two of them “naturally thought about organizing the camp.”  (From police reports.)

The Church of Revelation ran an ad in BLM offering to help readers set up child-care organizations and camps.  The Church of New Revelation was not a church at all, but just a referral agency that distributed child porn around the country.  The “Church” was incorporated in New Jersey in 1974.  The same people also incorporated “Educational Foundation for Youth,” allegedly based in Chicago.  This foundation started out as the non-profit arm of a profit corporation that was listed as an “import/export” business.

Child-care sites/camps for boys were then set up under the auspices of the Church and the Foundation—charitable/educational entities that guaranteed state and federal income tax exemptions.  These tax dodges were fronts for child pornography and pedophilia.  Not only that, but some state welfare departments were duped into making payments for the support of the boys.  At the time, counties would pay up to $150 a month per boy; the state up to $400, and the feds up to $700.  In many cases these guys were actually getting paid by the government to rape kids and film child pornography.

Richards responds to the Church’s ad and the “Reverend” Dyer Grossman (aka Dale Osterman, Elliot Crossman, Elijah Crossman) came from New Jersey to Port Huron to help Richards set up “Brother Paul’s Childrens Mission.”  Grossman came from a very wealthy Long Island family and had been—no real surprise—a science teacher at two boys schools, one of them a boarding school.  Richards was the president of this newly formed Brother Paul’s and Grossman was the vice president.  Richard’s wife was the secretary.  The name of the treasurer was redacted from the case file.  Why the MSP was able to redact that name under FOIA provisions, I do not know.  God only knows who it was.  Shelden was listed as a director of the corporation.

Also incorporated at the same time was the “Ocean Living Institute” of Kearny, New Jersey.  Same officers as for Brother Paul’s.  The mission was “to promote education and research in oceanography.”

Richards ran Brother Paul’s “nature camp” for boys, ages 7-16, on Fox Island.  It was classified by the Michigan State Attorney General as a charitable trust.

In Portraits in the Snow, The Oakland County Child Killings . . . Scandals and Small Conspiracies (2011), author M.F. Cribari explores the players in the Fox Island scandal and how this ring had to have been, in one way or another, connected to the child killings.  http://www.amazon.com/Portraits-Snow-Oakland-Killings-Scandals-Conspiracies/dp/1432768026/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1363093801&sr=1-1&keywords=m.+cribari.  While police close to the investigation quickly dismissed it as bullshit, it is the bravest piece of writing I have ever seen.  The author was threatened while researching the book and after it was published.  If you don’t believe it, check out what happened to people involved in the investigation into a child sex ring in Nebraska in The Franklin Cover Up: Chile Abuse, Satanism and Murder in Nebraska, by John W. DeCamp, http://www.amazon.com/Franklin-Cover-up-Satanism-Murder-Nebraska/dp/0963215809/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1363093683&sr=1-2&keywords=the+franklin+scandal, and The Franklin Scandal: A Story of Powerbrokers, Child Abuse and Betrayal, by Nick Bryant., http://www.amazon.com/Franklin-Scandal-Story-Powerbrokers-Betrayal/dp/1936296071/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1363093683&sr=1-1&keywords=the+franklin+scandal.

In July 1976 the party was over for Fox Island patrons when charges were filed against Richards and later against Shelden and Grossman for CSC 1st degree for the rape of two boys in Port Huron and on Fox Island.  Richards was arrested but neither Shelden or Grossman were ever served with warrants.  The foot-dragging by the prosecuting attorneys representing Port Huron and Ann Arbor ensured that these multi-millionaires would easily have plenty of time to destroy records and flee the country in their private jets.  While Richards was arrested on July 23, 1976, according to a case file entry dated August 2, 1976, Washtenaw County Prosecutor Peter Deegan “wants to wait on warrant for Sheldon [sic] until invest. Is completed.”  The thousands of boys these men raped over the next decades sure thank you for that, Pete.

A September 27, 1976 entry notes that:  “The St. Clair Prosecutor was contacted with request for warrant for Grossman for sex crime last summer.  He has not authorized as yet due to work load.  [Seriously????!]  If/when warrant is issued, the information will be related to same authority the above info will be referred to.”

And then on October 8, 1976—“Re-open complaint.  Complaint was closed in error.  Attempts will be made to obtain warrants for Dyer Grossman & Francis Shelden.”  [Why bother at this point, bozos, they are long gone!]

Meanwhile, the lowly gym teacher takes the bullet for the group; but it barely grazes him, given the crimes he committed.  He provided information and testimony (relatively self-serving b.s.) concerning these “child care” fronts, pled guilty and received a 2-10 year sentence at Jackson.  He would serve nowhere near 10 years and was back out on the streets in relatively short order.

Richards told police that if anything were to ever happen to Shelden, Richards was to go to his home and destroy the files with porno photos, etc., “to save Shelden’s parents and relatives any embarrassment.”  We can’t have any of that, now can we? When prosecutors finally got around to issuing a search warrant, all of Shelden’s file cabinets were empty.  Can you imagine the customer list detailing who could afford to fly up to Fox Island for a little retreat with underprivileged boys?

It turned out Fox Island and Brother Pauls were linked up with other sick entities around the country.  Two other organizations were linked up with the Church of Revelation and their network was thought to involve some 5,000 clients.  “Boys Farm, Inc.,” a boys’ camp in Tennessee was raided in November 1976.  The “farm,” which housed “wayward boys” from around Tennessee, was founded and operated by an ordained Episcopalian priest, Rev. Claduis I. (Bud) Vermilye, Jr.  A list of 270 camp “sponsors” was confiscated.  These men were from around the country and included Frank Shelden.

Other men in Michigan were found to be “sponsors” of Fr. Bud’s boys camp.  Their names are redacted from the MSP case file, but one was a principal of an elementary school, one an employee of Wayne County Dept. of Social Services (and a single foster parent to a boy), another an officer of a Walled Lake company (a bank?), as well as an employee of the University of Michigan.  These men were interviewed in January 1977.  All expressed shock over the discovery of pedophilia at the “farm,” even though two had visited the farm and all had received “mailings” from the farm.

The second organization was a boyscout troop in New Orleans—Troop 137.  Troop leader Richard Halverson (51), a probation officer and foster father to two boys who were wards of the state, and assistant leaders Raymond (Tom) Woodall and Harry Cramer, used boys for sex and porn.  Richard C. Jacobs, a Boston millionaire, was indicted on 15 counts as a participant in these crimes.

According to Wright, “[a]uthorities believe that the investigation into North Fox Island, New Orleans and the Tennessee boys farm has ‘only scratched the surface.  Correspondence and films seized in the raids came from Australia and Canada and virtually every state in the Union,’ authorities said.”

During this same time period, police arrested the owners/directors of a summer camp near Yankee Springs Recreation Area, between Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo.  Arrested were Dr. Lloyd Lange (42, a dentist) living in Park Ridge, IL, and John Bell (19), David Welch (26) and David John Berta (32).

On May 20, 1977, Elden Gale Wake (40), publisher of the explicit  “boylover” newsletter, Hermes, was arraigned in Lake County, IL, on obscenity charges in connection with an alleged nationwide child pornography ring.  (The Record-Eagle, Traverse City, p. 8, May 20, 1977.)

On February 15, 1988, Gerald Richards, now out of prison, was arrested by the Postal Inspector for trafficking in kiddie porn.  His public defender told police he was acting alone and “trying to get the goods” on a kiddie porn dealer so he could turn him in because he has completely reformed.  This plan backfired, he said, when he was entrapped by the postal service.

After a nationwide search, authorities discovered Shelden was living in the Netherlands.  Dyer Grossman was apparently never located.  Shelden was never extradited and died at age 68 on July 1, 1996.  The long-outstanding Michigan warrant for Shelden was cancelled and on May 2, 1997, a state police report indicates the status of the case as:  “Exceptional clearance, suspect is dead and cannot be prosecuted, but was obviously involved.”  Obviously.

I find it remarkable that there are only two mentions of the MSP OCCK Task Force in the MSP Fox Island file documents.  On May 3, 1979, reporting officer Donald L. Chappell notes:  “D/Sgt. Bonnell retired; no working Oakland Co. Task Force—indicated persons involved in North Fox Island may be in narcotics—Dorthy Wunderlich advised Alger Shelden’s  new address.  On December 4, 1979, Trooper Bailey’s journal entry says:  “Copy of report made for Lt. Robertson and relayed to District HQ via Lt. G. McKenzie.”

The MSP case file on Fox Island contains a meager amount of information given the magnitude of the case, but after all, it involved massive interstate crime so the FBI was involved.  Surely their file contained a wealth of information (no pun intended).  My Dad filed a FOIA request in 2011 for FBI documents concerning Chris Busch and Francis Shelden.  Both are deceased, it should have been no problem.  But guess what?  Believe it or not, the files were among those destroyed in a catastrophic (their word) flood at one of the FBI storage facilities.  Two Beezlebubs’ files destroyed in a catastrophic FBI flood; it doesn’t get much better than that.  Unless, of course, the dog ate their files.