“A harrowing examination of a headline-grabbing subject.” –Booklist.Posted: June 2, 2013
Soon after Tim’s murder, author Theodore Weesner and one of his sons were in Birmingham, MI, for hockey playoffs. He explains in Seacoastonline.com (Nov. 2007) that B’ham was in lockdown mode after the child killings (surprised?).
It was such a powerful thing to have in the air I decided to write a novel on it. I was very moved by Truman Capote’s “In Cold Blood.” …;. I came back, packed up, got an advance from my publisher and went and lived in Michigan. …; I worked with the state police …; and the task force …; researched and did interviews of the families and investigators. But they never caught the guy.
But I’d done a fair amount of writing. …; So I took the research and made a fiction …;with invented characters and moved it to Portsmouth.
Weesner moved his family to Oakland County and worked on the book. His publisher, James H. Silberman of Summit Books, sent my parents a letter explaining that Weesner was under contract with Summit to “write a comprehensive account of the events which have taken place in the Oakland County cases. He asked them to “[p]lease extend to him all possible courtesies and cooperation.” After my Mom died in 2004, I found this and other letters in a box she had kept, along with newspaper articles about my brother’s case.
I remember filling out a questionnaire Weesner had sent for each of Tim’s siblings. Although I wouldn’t necessarily have said it this way back then, I do recall feeling some version of “how the fuck do you think I feel about all this, pal?” To his credit, he did ask about our memories of Tim and positive things, but here is some guy asking me questions and he can’t even look me in the face and talk to me. He just wants the material for his book. I hope I threw it out, but I have this bad feeling I in fact filled it out and gave it to my Mom.
The issue with all of these books supposedly has always been that because no one was ever arrested, there was no ending, so no publisher would touch it. (Wussies.) But by the time Weesner has finished his manuscript, documenting whatever it was he spent those years working on, he is no longer with Summit Books, the publisher that had given him the advance. I am told the manuscript was over 500 pages.
In 1987 Weesner’s now-fictionalized version of the crimes, The True Detective, is published by Avon Books. The book, as these things always do, starts out with the notation: “This is a work of imagination. Places are named, but only to suggest reality. None of the persons who appear in these pages is intended to represent anyone, living or dead.” Imagination? You got a pretty goddamn good jump start on the old imagination outline, I’d say.
It’s been quite a while since I read this book and I am not going to reread it. The book is about the abduction of one 12-year-old boy and the facts seem most parallel to Mark Stebbin’s story. The killer is “[a] deeply disturbed college student, driven to an unspeakable act by a desperate need for love.” One of my brothers reminded me that the suspect in this book also offs himself by jumping off a bridge. Yes, the killer, being chased by a detective, jumps off of a bridge and dies. Just like the killer did in Parrott’s book, The Oakland County Child Killer.
Anybody want to do a little research on bridge suicides in or around Michigan in 1977/1978?