With thanks to my family members, who helped me evaluate and respond to serious criticism that I paint with too broad a brush in castigating Oakland County in this case, I offer the following. First off, let me just say that there were in fact hundreds of police officers who worked on the OCCK case, primarily from January 1977 on, who did in fact pour their hearts and souls into this investigation. Who worked basically around the clock, who still carry the case in a heavy place in their hearts to this day. Some died with the awful recollection of this case and the lack of answers. I think anyone who takes even a basic look at the case in hindsight (which, let’s face it, we are not only allowed, but compelled, to do almost 40 years later), would figure out very quickly that when the Michigan State Police took over the case, decisions were made at and near the top back in the day, that most certainly circumvented much of what was being done by committed officers in the trenches investigating these heinous crimes. I don’t think corruption in this case at a high level in one or more law enforcement agencies can be ruled out, although I am sure these agencies took drastic measures back in the day and continuing to the present to make sure this can never be proven.
A little closer examination, even by stupid civilians like us, shows that it is entirely plausible that some questionable decision-making went on at some point relatively early in the investigation by the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office. And by that, I mean under L. Brooks Patterson and Richard Thompson’s reign, and perhaps well-after March 1977. And, it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to take a look at the behavior of members of the Berkley PD back in the day, some of it continuing in various shapes and forms to the current day, to make you stand back and question what the hell was going on with them and what they might have had to hide.
So you see, I chose my words carefully when I posted yesterday. I said: “[C]onsider that TWO YEARS have passed, and Oakland County has done what it does best–nothing. They know what the MSP and Berkley, MI PD of the late 1970′s knew: Just weather a little bad publicity, say nothing, and eventually the public will move on and forget.”
Although I know you can’t read my mind, let me explain who I think of when I say “Oakland County” like I did in that last post. I mean the Oakland County of two years ago and today—ruled with a heavy hand by Prosecutor Jessica Cooper and her Chief Deputy Paul Walton. They put on a completely bogus dog and pony show to act like they were doing something in these cases, when what they were doing was sticking it to my Dad every chance they could because he dared to question their bullshit. I also mean the current Oakland County Sheriff’s Department, because I’ve heard one too many stories from people who went to them in the relatively recent past and got blown off. The OC Sheriff back in the day, Johannes Spreen, could have perhaps accomplished something in these cases if he had not been thwarted by the MSP and interagency bickering. But that office today is, in my opinion, doing nothing constructive in these cases. And, for that matter, I mean the judges in Oakland County, who kowtow to Prosecutor Cooper. Such a happy, if dysfunctional, family.
I also specifically mentioned the MSP and Berkley PD in my post because, as I said above, I think the behavior of some of their officers back in the day, continuing in some cases to the present, was and is suspect. But here is a sad fact I don’t think can be controverted: Law enforcement at some higher level in this investigation were crooked, incompetent, or both. They ultimately failed on every level, perhaps due to decision-making by those at the top of the MSP, who took over the investigation when Kristine Mihelich went missing.
Do I blame the many investigators who did their jobs and were committed to finding the killers? Certainly not. But multiple kids died horrible deaths after Mark Stebbin’s murder in February 1976 partially as a result of misfeasance or malfeasance during the investigation. Certainly the blame truly lies with the sick individuals who hunted children in Oakland County in 1976 and 1977. The MSP took over this investigation, took it out of the hands of local police who were on the ground and in the trenches, and then utterly failed in bringing anyone to justice—for whatever reasons—and managed to keep a lid on these cases for almost four decades. For whatever reasons (and they are easy enough to surmise with just a rudimentary review of the FOIA documents in this case), the past and current Oakland County prosecutors, as well as members of the Berkley PD, have additional interests in keeping the lid very tight here. Those entities screwed over not only the victims and their families and friends, but also the honest cops who worked these cases as hard as humanly possible. They have a lot to answer for, but will never be called to do so. Compare that to the burden the rest of us, including honest law enforcement officers who worked on the case, carry to this day.
Here’s what my Dad, always a staunch supporter of the police and any law enforcment until the MSP and the OCP proved to him in recent years just how dirty law enforcement agencies can be (again, this all starts at the top), had to say about my perceived overly-broad attacks on LE:
I have always praised the foot soldiers or petty officers. Their reports die when forwarded up the chain of command. The decision makers (with the exception of [Wayne County’s] Worthy and Moran) refuse to take any action, namely the MSP and the OCP. We have now asked the AG to assist us and await his response. When you can’t sleep at night you do not know if this failure is operational, political, personal or the concern that they are all afraid someone else will solve the case to their detriment.
I believe two agencies are working as a team and currently making strides in this case. These do not include the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office, the Oakland County Sheriff’s Department, or any present-day local Oakland County law enforcement. I think EVERY investigator back in the day, with the exception of some at the top of the MSP, some on the Berkley PD, and perhaps at some point those high up in the OCP, would have done anything, given anything, to solve these cases. That some, after the fact and down the road, have wanted to sweep these horrible cases under the rug and look the other way is reprehensible. Their employers, by their silence and failure to fully cooperate with present-day investigative efforts, condoned their actions and are constant, silent witnesses to the four faces of the known murder victims who live forever in their cold case file cabinets.
This is a blog. I can’t put an asterisk after every sentence. Yes, I am outraged by not only the crimes, but by the present-day reactions from the law enforcement agencies who said they would never forget these crimes and that no stone would be left unturned and then turned and ran. Nice try.
I know the many investigators on the street back in the day turned over whatever stones they could and that some were probably turned back over by those higher up the food chain who didn’t want to deal with the fall-out. So, thank you to those who were and still are committed and devoted to the solving of these crimes, and who have lived with it as long as we have and still hurt.
To those in and outside of law enforcement who thwarted justice and who are still somehow able to look in the mirror—I don’t know what to say to you. You have much bigger issues than my little blog. I suspect you know you will make it safely to the grave before the lid blows off here and that you often take some kind of sick comfort from the fact that some of us will go, too, before that happens.
While I will continue to take criticism of this blog seriously, I will not keep silent now that I know what I know. I risk offending many here, but the subject matter is the most offensive you will ever find and my vantage point is unusual, given the unfortunate circumstances my youngest brother found himself in on March 16-22, 1977 when he was abducted, held captive, tortured, raped, and then murdered and dumped in a roadside ditch. If you want something candy-coated, don’t read my blog.