“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.”Posted: May 15, 2013
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,