Did you know that six works of fiction based on these abductions and murders have been published since 1980? One weak nonfiction book was published in 1984. More on that later.
The first of these books was Angel in the Snow, (Pocket Books, January 1980) by Patricia Welles. Welles wrote Bob, Carol, Ted & Alice in 1969, and the themes were infidelity and wife-swapping. The book was the basis of screenplay for a popular movie with the same name. In Angel, victim number five was a little girl who escaped. The abductors/killers were an older businessman and his younger male partner. Welles gives thanks in the opening pages to “the Birmingham Police Department, Birmingham, Michigan, for the help they gave me in the writing of this novel—both in the opinions and the fantasy offered.” Umm—right, ok.
The second was The Oakland County Child Killer, by “Michael L. Parrott” (Harlo Press, March 1980). A “work of fiction based on a factual series of child murders that took place during the winter of 1977 in the quiet, northern suburbs of Detroit, “ written from the perspective of psychiatrist “Dr. Elliot Denton.” The book is dedicated to Lisa, “who taught me to see.”
Parrott is clearly a pen name, based on my research. Harlo Press is long out-of-business. I believe the book was written by the late Dr. Bruce L. Danto, a psychiatrist who insinuated himself into the OCCK investigation, spent a lot of time and energy on the case, and for all I know was Chris Busch’s psychiatrist. Danto wrote other nonfiction books and contributed to many other published works.
We know from police records that Chris Busch was living at his parents’ home in Bloomfield Village, MI, to be close to his probation officer and psychiatrist. Danto’s daughter, Lisa, who went to the same high school my brothers and I did, sustained a serious spinal cord injury in 1978 or 1979 and I believe she fully recovered.
This book, long out-of-print, is kind of a mindblower. Aside from paralleling the experience of Dr. Danto, down to taped phone messages from a man allegedly connected to the murders, it ends with freaky parallels not yet apparent in 1980. First of all, cops get a pedophile loser they think is the OCCK to essentially confess to involvement in the murders after getting him wasted in his car while they are questioning him. After the suspect passes out, they then exit his car, connect a rubber hose to the exhaust pipe of his car and asphyxiate him. They remove the hose and drive away in their patrol car.
One of the cops asks if they are just going to leave the guy there.
“In a day or two, we’ll send a scout car out in the area and they’ll stumble across him,’ [responds the lieutenant]. “’Aren’t you going to announce that the child killer . . . .’
‘Hell no Shultz,’ said Bowers. ‘Do you realize what we’ve just done? The last thing we need is every newspaper in town digging around into what happened. This way it’s nice and clean. Just another suicide that nobody gives a shit about. There won’t be any more killings and the public will just forget about it. Like always.’
‘What about the Task Force?’
‘We go on just as we have been for a month or two. Then one day when everybody starts to forget, and believe me, it won’t take long, we announce that the Task Force is costing taxpayers too much money. No more kids will be missing. Nobody will care. And that’s the end of it.’”
Turns out, in this story, that the guy the cops offed is not the real killer, just someone who seemed like the real deal. The real killer is a Catholic priest, who kills his first three victims—a boy and two girls, and then lets his final victim—Joey—leave unharmed. Joey tells everyone he just ran away for a few days. While Joey is missing, the priest’s photograph collection is being showcased at a local art gallery. At some point the priest leaves an anonymous message on the shrink’s phone essentially blaming his parents for how he turned out. The priest commits suicide by jumping off the Ambassador Bridge and the shrink, of course, has it all figured out. He says nothing, believing it is in Joey’s best interest to keep it all quiet.
Pretty interesting work of fiction, Mr. Parrott, “a graduate of Wayne State University in Detroit. He currently earns a living as a writer, photographer and film producer. The Oakland County Child Killer is his first novel.”