Oh sigh. The Freedom of Information Act. The freedom to ask for what you won’t receive without vigilance and $$. Even then, you will probably get shut down. Maybe you are lucky enough to live somewhere where the media takes this shit seriously, even if they are having financial issues, as many news outlets are. The Chicago Tribune does a pretty damn good job on this front, in spite of the same financial concerns facing most print media outlets. But the media has always had “issues,” including bowing to the concerns of big advertisers back in the day. There’s always something. Even an intrepid reporter who is on to something isn’t going to get the backing from editors when it comes to shaking this shit down the way they used to; the way they know they should.
People who seek information via FOIA are not freaks, as the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office would imply by the letters they have sent in response to my Dad’s request for information in my brother’s murder case. When you get shut down, when your back is against a wall, you can play the FOIA game and roll the dice. Maybe the agency will comply, but don’t bet on it. More likely, you will get a denial and then a denial of your appeal. If you live in Oakland County, the judiciary will shut you down again. You can waste your money appealing, but you will get shut down at both appellate levels. You would be sickened, as I have been, if you have any minimal knowledge of the law and the appeals process.
Post Edward Snowden (who, no surprise, I admire and you should too if you really look at what he has exposed), the “transparency” of the NSA has been compared to that of the FBI and the CIA and found to be “better,” many rhetorical questions have been asked about FOIA requests. By comparison, the OCCK is an almost 40-year-old case which in no arguable way compromises national security or some other bullshit. The exposure of a weak and fragile suburban serial killer investigation forty years later does nothing to compromise anything. The involved agencies are concerned about nothing current; they are concerned about preserving their already pathetic reputations. And they do nothing but harm their reputations by protecting whatever went wrong many, many years ago. And by hosing the family members who have asked them to come forward with the truth. We just want to work with the truth as they know it. But they aren’t sharing. Not then, not now, not ever. Whatever track they took thinking they could make this go away, didn’t work. So why beat the family and friends of the victims with a rubber hose because the way they chose to deal with it back in the day inevitably backfired and fucked everyone over?
To bring it back to the present, in addition to the two FOIA requests my Dad filed—which, of course, resulted in litigation when the Oakland County Prosecutor refused to respond, my Dad has mailed two more FOIA requests to the OCP. As you may have noted in my earlier posts, these were responded to in a characteristically unprofessional manner by that office.
In the fourth FOIA request, date October 4, 2013, my Dad requested all the documents reviewed by the OCP prior to March 1, 2010, when she advised him that the Oakland County Child Killer Task Force was no longer following the Chris Busch/James Vincent Gunnels lead. While the OCP did not produce these documents, in a letter dated October 25, 2013, Chief Assistant Prosecutor Paul Walton attached a copy of the July 17, 2012 statement of Jessica Cooper regarding the possible involvement of Arch Sloan as a primary suspect. Does this mean the OCCK Task Force and the OCP decided to follow the Sloan lead to the exclusion of other suspects?
Here’s the deal. Our understanding is that in the more than 3.5 years since that time, the OCCK Task Force has not identified any additional suspects based on the Sloan lead. In fact, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that they have not come up with jack-shit since announcing the hair found in Sloan’s vehicle, which matches the hairs found on my brother Tim and also victim Mark Stebbins, do not match Sloan. Nice work. That shut his face up. He then knew the hair didn’t match his DNA. Hey—it could have been any one of the many pedophiles I hung out with or loaned my Pontiac to. Just let me keep my job in the prison garden. I’m here for life anyway. I have nothing to say.
To our knowledge, the only DNA connecting any live suspect to these murders is mtDNA and it matches the hair found on the jacket of Kristine Mihelich (third victim of the “OCCK”) as well as that of James Vincent Gunnels (victim and then associate of pedophile Chris Busch). To date, no one has provided any evidence exonerating Busch or Gunnels from participation in the murder of the four victims of the OCCK. Yeah, the OCP was hoping the hair found in the “Pontiac debris”—evidence that has been in the circular file since the murder of the first victim, Mark Stebbins—would solve the crime and take the spotlight of off Chris Busch, Vince Gunnels and all the other shitheads in their lives who protected them then and now. But that hasn’t gone so well. So if Busch and Gunnels are in the clear, how about being upfront about it? Yeah, we know. You can’t “clear” them, because you don’t know shit. Same as 1976 and 1977. So blame us for asking. That’s a lot easier.
Last week Emrys Davies, an old friend and client of my Dad’s, passed away at the age of 86. Mr. Davies took me shopping the day before Tim’s funeral so we could buy a light blue track/warm up suit for him to be buried in. Before Tim was abducted he had been saving money from his newspaper route to buy the suit and he and my Mom had planned to go out shopping for one. Light blue was a big color that year (just check out the tuxes in any prom photos you might have from that era).
I didn’t know Mr. Davies well, but we went shopping for a few hours hunting for an elusive light blue warm up suit in a size small enough to fit Tim, who was 4’1” and 60 pounds. Mr. Davies was younger then than I am now. He was totally cool and very kind. Trust me, in these types of situations the last person an adult wants to be around is a teenager. The “what do I say?!” problem gets magnified 100-fold.
I’ve written about this shopping trip before. We went to a bunch of stores and could not find a light blue tracksuit. There weren’t a bunch of sporting goods stores like there are today. At one store we could only find a darker blue tracksuit that was a size or two too big. The sales woman suggested it still might work because it would allow for growing room. We both dealt with that as best we could. We later found a dark blue tracksuit in his size and brought it home. We had done the best we could.
I would learn the next morning before the funeral that Mr. Davies keep searching for and in fact found a light blue tracksuit in Tim’s size and dropped it off at the funeral home.
I hope I thanked Mr. Davies for taking me shopping that day, but I don’t know that I ever got to thank him for keeping up the search until he found the light blue tracksuit. Thank you for this great kindness, Mr. Davies. We all appreciated it so much. I can tell from your obituary that you were loved and respected. Rest in peace.