“The first question people ask me is, will the killer be caught and the second is, will he take another child? Who knows–who in the hell knows. . . . I’d like to see this bastard in jail.”

Quote from then-Birmingham Police Chief Jerry Tobin in June 1977.  This quote appeared on a website devoted to these crimes in July 2009.  My brother saw this on the website and sent it to me immediately.  What did I think of this quote from an article by Jane Briggs-Bunting in The Detroit Free Press?  I think I explained early on that over the years my Mom had saved many, many newspapers covering the murder of her youngest son.  We opened these boxes and combed through them after her death in September 2004.

I checked for this particular article, but did not have it.  But I sure as hell had others that echoed the same sentiment.  But this article, appearing on another website, was particularly interesting.  What follows are quotes from this and other news articles on the same subject, as well as the email exchanges with my bro.

Here’s what the website said:

Yes, many local police already knew in June 1977 that the chances of catching the OCCK were slim.  Birmingham Police Chief Jerry Tobin thought the answer was, even if we never solve the crime, ‘We can make the killer paranoid that everyone’s watching him  . . . and prevent him from killing another child.’  . . . ‘ The first question people ask me is, will the killer be caught and the second is, will he take another child?  . . . ‘Who in the hell knows?  I’d like to see this bastard in jail.  But if we never solve these murders, preventing another abduction would be our goal.’

From website, quoting article in The Detroit Free Press, June, 1977, by Jane Briggs-Bunting (no specific date given).

As my brother observed in an email dated July 27, 2009, “[t]his quote goes against the grain of every cop quote I have ever seen.  What happened to ‘We will never rest until we bring this vicious murderer to justice,’ and ‘We will do everything we can, but we may need the public’s help to solve this case’?  As my brother observed, this article was mid-summer.  “There was shit about the killings being only in the winter in the press at the time.  Why wasn’t the chief asking the public to remain vigilant?  Why wasn’t he urging people who might have guilty knowledge to come forward?  Instead, we get ‘who in the hell knows’ and ‘I’d like to see this bastard in jail.'”

On the one hand, Tobin’s quote reflects the belief that the chances that catching the killer were slim, but another way the quote makes sense is that he knew the case would never be solved, but he was pretty sure another abduction would not take place.  And before you send me an email about me being a conspiracy theorist, when LE and prosecutors handle a case this way, it leaves it open to all of this speculation.

My brother and I discussed the fact that we initially thought any possible cover-up of Busch’s involvement may have happened after his “suicide” in November 1978 (“shit, it couldn’t have been him–there was that polygraph clearing him–and, no matter, he’s dead”), but that it was possible old H. Lee Busch was able to say “We’ll put him in a mental hospital in Europe,” and keep it quiet that way.  Yeah, it’s just a possibility.  But shoddy police work has left open a lot of possibilities.

This scenario jibes with the statement made by an ex-Oakland County Sheriffs deputy to a friend of our family–which, as my brother observed, was not “It was some rich kid from Bloomfield HIlls, but he’s dead now,” it was something like “It was some rich kid from Bloomfield Hills, BUT WE COULDN’T TOUCH HIM.”  

My brother also observed:  “When it comes to conspiracy theories, the age-old question is always ‘ineptitude/laziness or cover-up.”  A conspiracy is an agreement between two or more people for an illicit purpose.  This happens every goddamn day.  All you have to do to discredit a conspiracy is attach the word “theory” to it.  Turns people’s brains right off, but it shouldn’t.

As my brother also pointed out, “the ‘this bastard’ quote is interesting [if it’s accurate–we do not have this actual article].  Does the word ‘this’ possibly connote knowledge of a specific person?  If he didn’t know the identity of the suspect, would he be more likely to say ‘the bastard’?  Compare it to ‘this killer’/’the killer.’  Also, why the assumption it is just one person?”

And the construction I’d LIKE to see this bastard in jail?  That’s a weird construction for a cop, unless you count “I’d LIKE another doughnut.”  As my brother notes, Chief Tobin is already moving the goalposts, announcing that the goal is not bringing the murderer to justice, but “preventing another abduction.”  Why?  Is Tobin implicitly indicating that they don’t have jack shit and are totally clueless, or is the real reason that there is a cover-up in place–that they know damn well they’ll never bring the killer in (because H. Lee Busch will never allow that), but are rationalizing it all by saying that at least the abductions will stop?Or simply covering bases in case, as actually happened, Chris Busch bubbles to the surface and, they don’t know if he is or isn’t the killer, aren’t about to look into it further, but he smells really, really bad and they need to squelch any further inquiry?  So, so sick,

5 Comments on ““The first question people ask me is, will the killer be caught and the second is, will he take another child? Who knows–who in the hell knows. . . . I’d like to see this bastard in jail.””

  1. bitamoney says:

    H. Lee Busch. The crux of the matter. First, let me grant you, Cathy, that the son looks awfully good for it. And I don’t want to rock the boat unnecessarily.
    But I have a question about this payoff theory and that is, how could this one man control so many people with money? With payoffs? We’re not talking about “Okay, here’s 25 grand to keep quiet”. To keep SO MANY cops quiet wouldn’t this man have to lay out millions? There are just not that many crooked cops on any force. Not 90 or 120. And all it takes is one decent cop to ruin everything, doesn’t it?
    Please give me some reverse logic on this, because certainly it does seem as though there was something going on besides lazy police work. Yet if it was massive hush money couldn’t evidence of that be traced?

    • Andrew Wellman says:

      I’ve been thinking a lot about exactly this–if Busch had connections to organized crime, that would be one thing–but organized crime in Oakland County has always manifested itself through union activity. Busch’s father may have been able to keep his son bailed out of jail and lawyered up, but I’m not convinced that this is about police corruption. (I’m also not convinced that Busch was “whacked”–that’s the first time I’ve heard that theory.)

      But in the meantime, I’ve been thinking and writing and organizing my thoughts. I could offer up some theories, but I want to offer them as clearly and completely as possible. I’ll post them when I’m done with them.

  2. Make the “killer” paranoid? Guess everyone else laughed it off…especially those with children.

  3. Go back to the Legion hall and look for citizen policemen.

  4. @bitamoney-I would like to answer your question, as it is very good of an inquiry. H. Lee Busch most likely didn’t have to pay any public official/officer a dime for making his son’s crimes all just “go away” in regards to him being the OCCK. Being a man of prestige & wealth enabled him access & influence in major elite circles that are responsible for promotion & advancement of almost every detective & prosecutor in the county (if not the state). That means that any real investigative work that pointed to the “truth” could also mean cops losing their jobs, of being sent to other locations, demotions, possibly even losing a life if they pursued “justice” to independently. Look what happened to both of Wayne County’s Task Force members. Consecutively they were both kicked off of it because they couldn’t follow the Oakland County leads (to nowhere) & had worked a little bit of independently in the investigation (so Oakland County says). If this could happen 30-35 years later then just think what could have happened during that time when H. Lee Busch was doing everything he could to protect this from leaking out. Another thing is if GM had been pouring money into Oakland County or the State Police through advertising, campaign money, supply of police cars. These are all things that H. Lee Busch would of been able to influence (both law enforcement agencies) since he was the Executive Financial Director of GM. Just look at each word by themselves. Executive/Financial/Director might just be a fancy name if it involved running a localized fabric store, but GM was an elite American corporation in an elite industry (still is) in what was the mecca of automobiles at that time. This guy had to have been able to pull strings in this community, and if you also go by some of the reader’s blogs about a Chris Busch abduction/rape or attempted abduction during this same era, then you will learn that several victim’s parents (who worked at GM) were so intimidated of H. Lee Busch that once learning of Chris Busch’s sexual exploits against their child, would simply choose to forget about it than to try to prosecute him.

Leave a Reply