David Metzger, Forensic Laboratory ScientistPosted: May 11, 2018
Compare and Contrast, Part II is going to have to wait. In the wake of the dig for the bodies of long-missing girls in Macomb, Michigan, The Detroit Free Press published an article outlining the freakishly large history of serial killers in Michigan. https://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/2018/05/10/michigan-serial-killers/595797002/
After detailing the awful list of serial killers in Michigan, the Free Press article ends with the following about the Oakland County Child Killer:
Oakland County Child Killer
Four children in metro Detroit were found slain between 1976 and 1977, becoming victims of the unknown Oakland County Child Killer. The homicides remain unsolved.
Police have chased down multiple leads over the years. Early on, they zeroed in on Christopher Busch, a convicted pedophile who reportedly killed himself in his parents’ home in 1978. At the suicide scene, investigators found ropes in Busch’s bedroom closet.
The ropes were referred to by investigators as “bloody ligatures” and considered likely evidence that Busch tied up victim Timothy King, 11 — and possibly the other victims: Mark Stebbins, 12, Jill Robinson, 12, and Kristine Mihelich,10 — before killing them.
But in 2012, the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office tracked down the forensic laboratory scientist who examined the ropes at the time of Busch’s suicide. “There was no blood, fibers, hairs or any other evidence on the ropes,” David Metzger said in a sworn affidavit.
“Early on, [police] zeroed in on Christopher Busch, a convicted pedophile”–early on, as in 2007 after a tip required many, many hours of investigation and a court battle in Wayne County and the Michigan appeals courts to get Busch’s name??? Or, early on as in on November 20, 1978, at 9:30 a.m., when Bloomfield Township Police were called to the home of Busch’s parents, where they found Busch’s decomposing body (dead 3-4 days according to the police report, although the date of death is noted on M.E. Robert Sillery’s autopsy protocol as November 20, the day the body was found)? It would seem that no one present at the Busch death scene zeroed in on much, or for long. Those present at the scene included Bloomfield Township Police Force members Det. Quarles, Cpl. McNamee, Officer Speicher and I.D. Technician Brabant. Oh yeah, and OCCK Task Force Members John Davis and Ron Pierce, who were called to the scene after the cops got a look around Busch’s room and saw not only these ropes, but a drawing of a screaming young boy who looked a whole lot like the first OCCK victim, Mark Stebbins. The drawing of the screaming boy shows him with a jacket on, hood up around his head. Mark’s body was found with jacket on, hood up.
I won’t read anything into the fact that this serial killer article yesterday in The Detroit Free Press does not contain a byline. It was clearly a collaborative effort by Free Press staff to pull together this sorry list of Michigan serial killers. However, the person who pulled together the segment on the OCCK took a very interesting approach. Maybe they were in a hurry to get to press, but the focus on David Metzger’s affidavit (requested from him by the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office on February 28, 2012) to the exclusion of the mountain of circumstantial evidence against Busch, is more than troubling. As is the fact that Metzger’s original report was not included in the Freedom of Information Request response to my father. (See below).
On June 24, Assistant Oakland County Prosecutor Paul Walton delivered Metzger’s affidavit to my father. While that office has never easily provided any documents to my father, and fought the FOIA action to obtain documents tooth and nail, Walton tosses this affidavit. As my father points out in a letter to the Michigan State Police FOIA coordinator, Metzger’s original report was not included in the 3,411 pages provided pursuant to a FOIA request on December 15, 2010. He then makes a FOIA request for a copy of the original Metzger report, unreacted photos of the Busch suicide scene, and “any other information concerning the Busch suicide scene which has not been previously provided to me.” While eventually another victim’s family member succeeded in getting unredacted photos of the Busch “suicide” scene, I doubt Metger’s original report was ever provided in response to this FOIA request. Metzger’s original lab report was number 14402-78, and was provided to him by the OCP so he could review it and opine about what he did decades ago.
Here is the FOIA request, as well as Metzger’s affidavit:
The Free Press article notes that in 2012 the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office “tracked down” Metzger. First of all, that is the only effort, aside from the press conference about Arch Sloan’s 1966 Pontiac Bonneville and a possible cold case grand jury that may have included the OCCK case but clearly went nowhere, that the OCP has put into this case. Metzger couldn’t have been too hard to find. While he apparently left Michigan in 1981, he was the DNA Research Coordinator for the Illinois State Police, and his Linked In profile currently lists him as an Independent Forensic Science Professional in the Springfield, IL area.
And where are said ligatures? I think they are long gone. Like the suitcase full of 8mm child porn confiscated from Busch’s house in the wake of his arrest by Flint Police for Criminal Sexual Conduct with a Minor in early 1977. If the OCCK cases “were very much on [Metzger’s] mind at the time [he] examined the ropes,” why were these ropes not carefully preserved in evidence? Why didn’t the MSP compare the hairs found on Mark and Tim back when they were meticulously examining these ropes?
After the OCP “tracked down” Metzger and got him to sign an affidavit, Jessica Cooper held a press conference on July 17, 2012, announcing that a hair found on both Mark and Tim came from the same person, and that the hair came from a 1966 Pontiac Bonneville owned by convicted pedophile Arch Edward Sloan.
Cooper observed that Sloan “is not a suspect in the case” but often loaned his cars to other people. This is the extent of the hustle by the OCP, conveniently timed in the months leading up to the election in November 2012.
I find it both fascinating and deeply disturbing that no Oakland County prosecutor has actively worked the OCCK case over these past four decades. Compare this to the work done by the Wayne County Prosecutor. Tracking down David Metzger and pulling out a hair from the MSP files that was in evidence right after Mark Stebbins was murdered, but never examined until 2012, shows the OCP wants this to be a DNA case. This is a joke because the evidence in this case was never adequately evaluated or properly stored. This stance means the case can never be closed. That works out well for them. While DNA meant nothing back in 1976 and 1977, you would think that the MSP would have done everything they could to safely preserve every piece of evidence in this case. The MSP reran all four kids’ clothing back in 2007 and obtained “genetic material” (we never heard about that again), but they couldn’t find hair evidence they already had, linking Mark and Tim’s murders?
So much in this case strains credulity. The Busch “suicide” scene. The dog-ate-my homework approach to the evidence. The obvious focus on muddying the waters at every step by the OCP, and until the past few years, by the MSP. The lack of trace evidence on the ropes left on the floor of Busch’s bedroom closet does not clear Busch of anything. There was no DNA testing in 1978 and the approach to examining these ropes would have been completely different if it had been available. Assuming Metzger did the best analysis possible at the time, where are the ropes so they could be reexamined today? So Metzger concludes, in April of 2012, that based on his review of his report from December 1978, “no blood, fibers, hairs or any other evidence” was found on the ropes. We will never know if DNA was on those ropes, as the ropes are apparently gone, The lack of trace evidence on those ropes does not answer the question of why they were at the scene of a questionable suicide, along with the drawing of someone looking remarkably like Mark Stebbins. I wish the OCCK Task Force members who came to the scene, John Davis and Ron Pierce, would have agreed to speak to current investigators. But we all know what the chances of that are.
So I find it very interesting that who ever prepared this weak summary of the OCCK case for this article yesterday in The Detroit Free Press, chose to focus on the ligatures, which don’t mean shit in this case, except as possible evidence that the suicide was staged.
This case is crazy-making.