Much Sickness: North Fox Island, Shelden, Grossman, Starchild, Richards, The Franklin Scandal.

In February 1977—after three pre-teens, Mark Stebbins, Jill Robinson and Kristine Mihelich, had been abducted in Oakland County, MI, and murdered, and just weeks before my brother Tim met the same fate, The Traverse City Record-Eagle began running a series of news articles by reporter Marilyn Wright about the child porn and pedophilia ring being run on North Fox Island as well as child porn rings linked throughout the country and internationally.  North Fox Island, in Grand Traverse Bay, MI, was owned by the very wealthy Francis D. (Frank) Shelden, a member of a prominent family in Bloomfield Hills, Oakland County, MI.  [Clarification:  Shelden had ties to Ann Arbor and Bloomfield Hills, MI.  His family was from Grosse Pointe, MI.]  Shelden used his position in a fake social program, “Brother Paul’s Children’s Mission,” to fly boys in his private plane to a “boy’s nature camp” on the island.

Wright’s articles ran until December 1977.  There was an update in August 23, 1978.  The headline read:  “Porno figure [Shelden] running out of places to hide.”  Some 20 years later, on August 5, 1996, the paper reported Shelden died in the Netherlands at age 68 of natural causes and explained he had been charged with criminal sexual conduct with a 14-year-old boy and a 10-year-old boy in Port Huron two decades earlier, but fled the country and was never extradited.

Wright did a fantastic job of investigative reporting about Shelden and his partners, Dyer Grossman, Adam Starchild and Gerald Richards, and the sick web of “charitable” organizations they incorporated to facilitate their crimes.  This was sound reporting at every level and given who Shelden was and how much dough he had, and how close-mouthed the FBI has always been (even today—flouting FOIA laws as a matter of course), it cannot have been easy to track down the information she reported.

Wright’s reporting in The Record-Eagle was extensive.  The Detroit area news barely touched this mess—including the criminal sexual conduct charges filed on behalf of two boys in Port Huron, MI, against Shelden and his buddy Richards.  In the months leading up to Wright’s reporting, The Ann Arbor News published a glowing article in their weekend magazine about the great philanthropist, Frank Shelden (“Hey, can I take your son camping and then pay for his college education?!”; Director at Cranbrook Institute (boys school, of course); and an active participant in the Big Brother Program!!).  The Ann Arbor News then published a second story when his crimes were exposed.  Oops.

It sounds like another Northern Michigan newspaper is set to take a look back at Shelden and the child porn and pedophilia rings that encompassed his island “retreat” in the next few days.  I have no doubt the reporters will do a great job uncovering information that has for far too long been submerged far below the surface so that wealthy pedophiles and their families could walk with their heads held high for many decades.

I’ve written a little about Shelden in my blog and have received some very interesting comments about this man and his associates.  On May 1, 2013, “Larry” commented on one of my blog entries with some very interesting observations and information.

He said:  “I think n. fox is at the heart of this case and what happened to your brother.”  At that point, Larry had been researching Fox Island for about three years and had been researching the child sex and porno rings that ran wild in the U.S. in the 1970’s and 1980’s.  He offered to help in any way he could.

Frankly, I wasn’t sure what to do with the information.  Law enforcement is not interested in this angle:  It didn’t get touched back then and it isn’t going to get touched now.  And, while I agree that Fox Island has some relation to the OCCK, I have never been able to adequately articulate what the various connections could be.  Others have done a better job of this, and I will cite to one such source (a book available on below.

Larry told me investigative reporter and longtime child advocate Ken Wooden had done extensive research on Shelden and Grossman and that he and/or his daughters probably still had the files.; and  Larry also cited two very interesting links.  One was a link to a YouTube video of a documentary that first aired in the early 1980’s, “Boys for Sale.”  While it is highly disturbing, it is mandatory viewing for anyone wanting to understand how child porn and pedophile rings flourished during the time of the OCCK murders.

The second link is to the transcript of the U.S. Senate hearings in May and June of 1977, “Protection of Children Against Sexual Exploitation.”  Use the search function to read up on what Shelden’s lackey, Gerald Richards, had to say in his testimony on child porn/pedophilia.  If you try to search for “Francis D. Shelden,” “Frank Shelden,” “Shelden,” or “Sheldon,” you won’t get any hits, even though all of those terms appear in the transcript.  Oh trust me, Richards and the Senators go way-easy on Golden Boy Frank.  Gerald Richards was a very evil man, despite his contrite b.s. testimony to the contrary.  More on that in the next post, which will include documents from the Michigan State Police file on the CSC charges against him and Shelden from 1976 and 1977.  While Richards had some amnesia attacks during his softball session with the Senators, he was very specific when he was interviewed by the MSP.  And the file includes transcripts of some statements given by adults who remember what he did to them as children in his “clinic” in Port Huron.  He was, in addition to being a phys ed teacher at a boy’s school (go figure), a naturopath.  Apparently the filming of child rape and porn did not only take place on Fox Island—Richard’s “doctor’s” office was also used as a film set.

Every time I post the words Frank Shelden (deceased), Dyer Grossman, Gerald Richards (I believe deceased), or Adam Starchild (has many aliases; he is apparently deceased as well, but who knows with all those aliases?), I get immediate emails/messages from people begging me not to talk about them because people are investigating this angle on the side (not law enforcement, of course), or warning me to “be careful.”  Yet in the year I have been blogging (one year on 1/31/14), not one person has published anything about or come to any conclusions regarding these men.

However, it’s not like any of this stuff—and much more, hasn’t been said before.  Check out Portraits in the Snow:  The Oakland County Child Killings . . . Scandals and Small Conspiracies, by M.F. Cribari (available on, which contains a lot of background and research on these animals.  And, in response to Larry’s question of May 1:  Yes, I do think information about these men in the book is accurate, and that the assumptions/conclusions are justifiable and supportable.  That author had the guts to say it.  Nobody else has.

If you don’t think this kind of stuff happens, or that wealthy people like Frank Shelden would be involved in child porn or trafficking, try on two other books for size, both documenting child sexual abuse of monsterous proportions in the 1980’s by “upstanding citizens.”  One is The Franklin Cover-Up:  Child Abuse, Satanism, and Murder in Nebraska, by John W. DeCamp.  The other is The Franklin Scandal:  A Story of Powerbrokers, Child Abuse & Betrayal, by Nick Bryant.

I will add a screen shot of my stats page in the next few days because any time I use the words Frank Shelden, Dyer Grossman, Adam Starchild, North Fox Island, or anything relating to The Franklin Scandal, it sets off all kinds of Google and other alerts.  I predict a visit or two from The Netherlands and the UK.  Can you imagine who must have been on the client list for N. Fox Island—the list that was destroyed, along with all kinds of other evidence, when word got out that CSC charges were going to be filed against Richards and Shelden?

I applaud the reporters involved in revisiting this story.  Like so many stories about voiceless victims, it demands to be told.

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