FROM: Barry L. King
DATE: March 24, 2014
RE: Oakland County Child Killer (“OCCK”)
AS OF THIS DATE, THE KING FAMILY HAS NOT BEEN PROVIDED WITH ANY FACTS CONTRADICTING THE POSSIBLE PARTICIPATION OF BUSCH AND HIS TWO COMPANIONS IN THESE MURDERS.
- In late 2006 or early 2007, I had a telephone conversation with Detective Sergeant Garry Gray of the Michigan State Police (“MSP”). Gray advised me that the OCCK Task Force had received its first hard lead because a suspect, Theodore Lamborgine, had failed a polygraph examination. This was confirmed at a meeting shortly thereafter attended by Donald Studt, now the Birmingham Chief of Police, my son Chris, and me.
- In response to my Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) suit against the MSP on December 15, 2010, I received 3,411 pages confirming that Christopher Busch was cleared as a suspect in the murder of Mark Stebbins, the first victim, in late January 1977 because he had passed a polygraph examination (see Tip 369).
- The MSP reports indicated that the 1977 Busch polygraph examination was reviewed by three subsequent polygraphers, but the results were redacted.
- Another suspect, a companion of Busch named James Vincent Gunnels, was also polygraphed, but the results were redacted in the MSP report.
- The Oakland County Circuit Court and the Michigan Court of Appeals both ruled that I was not entitled to this polygraph information.
- On October 30, 2012, I mailed a FOIA request to the Oakland County Prosecutor (“OCP”) requesting her files on Gunnels. In her response on November 20, 2012, the OCP provided me with the unredacted copy of the second Gunnels polygraph which reads in part as follows:
“Other that the control questions, Gunnels was asked three specific questions regarding the Child Killing Investigation. Due to his DNA, hair being discovered on Kristine Mihelich, he was asked the following:
“1. Did you participate in any way in the killing of Kristine Mihelich?
“2. Do you know for sure, who killed Kristine Mihelich?
“3. Did you have any physical contact with Kristine Mihelich?
“(See attached Exam report for all questions asked)
“Lt. Dykstra after reviewing the three separate charts involve in the polygraph of James Vincent Gunnels, concluded that Mr. Gunnels, ‘Completely’ failed all aspects of said examination DPD officer Dan who is a polygraph trainee of Dykstra also concurred with the findings.”
If this information was improperly provided to me, did Jessica Cooper discipline her assistants who mailed it to me?
- On April 1, 2013, the 48th District Court finally gave me access to the Search Warrant files on the former Busch residence dated October 28, 2008. The Affidavit in support of the Search Warrant states as follows regarding the subsequent reviews of the original Busch polygraph examination: “Y. Affiant further states that the polygraph charts from Christopher Busch’s polygraph test administered by Ralph Cabot were recently reviewed by three polygraph examiners, Lt Robert Dykstra of the Michigan State Police, Tim Larion of the Livonia Police Department and former State Police polygraph examiner John Wojnaroski. Affiant was told by the three examiners that the polygraph charts do not indicate truthfulness, and that at best, the result should have been deemed inconclusive.”
- The OCP disclosed the results of the three subsequent polygraphs to the court in October 2008 and prohibited my access until April 2013, more than four years later.
- Lamborgine flunks a lie detector test and it is the first hard lead the Task Force had received.
- Busch passes a polygraph test and is released in 1977. The OCP publicly announced the result of this 1977 polygraph in the 1977 newspapers.
- Gunnels fails a polygraph examination and unlike the Lamborgine result, I am denied this information.
- Law enforcement should not be able to pick and choose on the publication of polygraph examination results. The law should be clarified by the legislature or the courts.
Ok, here you go.
On this night, 37 years ago, I saw my brother Tim alive for the last time. The next time I would see him, over a week later, he was in a white coffin wearing a light blue tracksuit. I had never seen a dead person before. Nobody warned me what the deal would be. Tim looked nothing like the kid I remembered. He looked much bigger—probably because after the autopsy, he was pieced back together and stuffed with god knows what. The make up on his face was really heavy in a failed attempt to cover a big bruise on his forehead. When I touched his hand, I was shocked at how cold it was. I pulled my hand back and shuddered. It made me feel incredibly cold.
But the reader asked about March 16, 1977. It was the last night my family had a “normal” life. I was 17. I’m now 54. More importantly, Tim was 11. He would be 48 today. I don’t know what happened to him after 8 pm or so the night of 3/16/77. I just know it was horrific. I’ve always known that. Even if he wasn’t raped and tortured constantly, he was held captive, against his will. Away from his family. He was dumped face-first in a ditch in Livonia, Michigan on March 22, 1977. Hate to break it to you readers who think he was laid out in funereal fashion, like the killer(s) wanted some kind of absolution for what they had done. Nope. Dumped, helter-skelter. Wait until you see the photo. I don’t have it, but somebody does and I’ve seen it. It’s not pretty.
And I knew from the second I got home in the early morning hours of March 17, 1977, that whatever was going on was totally and completely wrong and sick. Do you really want to hear about the rest of this? I don’t think you really do. You can imagine it. Life as we knew it was over. Police living at our house 24/7 for a week. Our phone line was tapped and recorded. The day the cops left, after Tim was put in the ground, we got a new phone number. My close friends and I still remember the old number—313-644-1539. Hey, new start—good luck to you. God’s speed and all of that. Hopefully no more extortion calls. Yes, we got a few, along with prank calls from people young and old. Yeah, you were on tape, but I’m sure the B’ham PD and the MSP have long-since lost those tapes. We all heard that shit, sitting around our little round kitchen table. I was 17, but I felt like I was 45.
I didn’t realize until my oldest was a senior in high school how much my brother’s death fucked me up. It was March of senior year; there was so much to look forward to. Until I saw photos of some of the events from that spring in 1977, not much of it was in my data bank. As I watched my son go through senior year, with our own personal family suffering in 2010, my heart broke doubly—mostly for him, but also for me. Senior year went on for all my friends and I was like a washed-out image in the background. Spring break, prom, senior celebration and god knows what else I missed. I was 2,000 feet underwater, struggling to participate. At graduation, a teacher who at the time was much younger than I am now and who was friends with my parents, told me he “better see me smile” when I crossed the stage to get my diploma. This was one of literally hundreds of inappropriate things uttered to me over the years concerning my brother’s murder. I smiled, of course, but I felt like telling him the truth: I’m drunk, you asshole–and you have no idea what it will be like for me to walk across that stage with everyone knowing my name, who I am and what my family has gone through. There was no graduation party. My Mom gave me a ring that was unwrapped. She said there was a story behind the ring and she would tell me later. When I asked about it down the road, she couldn’t recall what that was. When my house was burglarized in Naperville in 2006, the ring was stolen along with all of the rest of my jewelry in my house at the time.
As of early March, the only college I had visited was Marquette University. I was accepted into the physical therapy program at M.U. I had been accepted at other universities, including the physician’s assistant program at Emory in Atlanta. There was no further discussion about where I would go, needless to say, after Tim was murdered. I went to Marquette. It was not my first choice, not by a long shot. But that was the least of the shit on the table that spring, if you know what I mean. It turned out ok—I ended up going to law school there after I graduated in 1981. I knew if I didn’t make it there, I’d end up back in Birmingham, which was the last thing I wanted. I can’t tell you how alone I felt in 1977 and 1978 at Marquette. Those years, and actually the rest of my undergrad and law school, were the bleakest years of my life.
I feel like I have posted this stuff before, but I remember calling home and telling my Mom that I had been on a bus in Milwaukee and heard a little boy who sounded just like Tim. I started crying. She simply said: “That’s going to happen.” I never expressed myself that way again. I would ultimately marry someone who had a similar sense of empathy. So, uncleholmes, there it is in painful print. Picture how awful all this shit is—and then multiply it by 1,000 and you will get as much of an idea as you want of how this went down.
My youngest is a senior this year. I will again go through the strange feelings of happiness and great loss. Although kids now seem so much older than we were during our senior year, I will just say this: No one, no one, no matter what age, should have to go through this shit. Life—and high school—is hard enough with out coming face-to-face with the kind of evil that creates this shit. And that is NOTHING compared to what Tim, Kristine, Jill and Mark suffered.
So, there you go. If you want more details about the evening of March 16, 1977, it is burned into my brain and I will give you more.
This week’s Leelanau Enterprise has a front page story about Jill Robinson’s younger sister, Alene, and her recollections of Jill and the investigation into her murder. Here’s a link to the online version. It requires an online subscription. Thanks to Kathleen Firestone for the heads-up on the article.