“People care.”

At least they do when it comes to the murder of the Robison family in Northern Michigan some 50 years ago.  Nina Instead, host and writer/producer of Already Gone, a true crime podcast focusing on crimes from the Detroit area (http://www.alreadygonepodcast.com/author/admin/), sent me a link this morning:

https://www.mlive.com/news/index.ssf/2018/10/50_years_after_michigan_family.html

Yes, those considerate folks up north are having a series of forums to discuss this open murder investigation to put rumors to rest.  In my blog post of January 20, 2014 (“Someone should write a book”), I discussed a book written about these murders by Mardi Link.  In that post, I highlight the differences in the way the Michigan State Police and other law enforcement agencies, including prosecutors, freely worked with Ms. Link to help her with her book, and the massive stonewalling that has gone on in the OCCK case.

Read about these forums those kind folk up north are having, and consider how law enforcement and officials have treated the four kids, their family and friends, and the community in the OCCK case.  Consider that they shut down any legitimate discussion of this case, refuse to produce documents except under court order or threat of court order, and when they do, they are ridiculously redacted.  No one bothers one bit with any thought of the reputation of Joseph Scolaro or any of his living family members.  Also consider that my Dad, at close to age 90, has spoken with local women’s and men’s groups about the investigation in this case.  Nobody from law enforcement is there to answer questions.  The audiences are small.  There is no “pre-Halloween” final forum on these murders, unlike the ghastly murder of the Robisons.

About these standing-room only forums, Link observed:

“I think it’s unprecedented,” author Mardi Link said of this year’s traveling presentations. “I don’t know of any other case where this has happened.” Link – who penned “When Evil Came to Good Hart” in 2008 and recently refreshed it for republishing this year – said she’s been struck by the size of the sold-out audiences. She thinks it’s because of how this case has resonated with the Up North community as a whole.

“People care,” she said. “This was an entire family. It wasn’t just a movie. It wasn’t a novel. It was a real family who had people who loved and cared about them.”

Really?  These were four kids who had entire families who had people who loved and cared about them.  They were not shot.  They were held captive for days (and Kristine for weeks), tortured and then suffocated.  Yet here there are no forums, no explanations, no honesty or integrity.

Consider how easy the Michigan State Police and local authorities made it for Mardi Link to write this book about an OPEN case.  You can say Scolero, who died by suicide, was the obvious murderer.  But you could also say that about Chris Busch, who also died by “suicide” in the OCCK case.  From my previous post in 2014, based on an email I sent my family years before that:

Link explains in a web article that she had always been fascinated by the Robison case, being the same age as young Susie Robison the summer of 1968.  “The self-proclaimed Court TV addict pitched the project to an editor through ‘a blind e-mail.’  ‘She responded (and) voila, I had a book contract,’ Link said.  She filed Freedom of Information Act requests, obtained files from Emmet County and the Michigan State Police and interviewed Good Hart locals. The publisher’s approval came in March 2007 and by November, Link turned in the book.”  http://record-eagle.com/features/x75055214/Author-fascinated-by-the-Robison-case  “’I was trying to tell, from various angles, what really happened,” she said.  ‘The main character of the book is really the investigation.’”

Link’s obvious conclusion that Scolaro was either the killer or the person who hired the killer(s) is one long-held by the MSP detectives who worked on this case, as well as the Emmet County Sheriff’s office.   In 2002 it was announced that three pubic hairs found on Shirley Robison’s body would be retested and that her clothing would be reexamined for DNA evidence. Unfortunately, the evidence turned out to be too degraded.  This result was made public.

Interesting that such a comprehensive book is written about a case that is still open.  But it turns out that Link had quite a bit of help and a lot of file access.

First, in her acknowledgements, Ms. Link explains that “Sheriff Pete Wallin and Detective J. L. Sumpter of the Emmet County Sheriff’s Office graciously opened up their exhaustive records on the case and provided me with their own personal observations and wisdom, which was invaluable.”  Hmm, I wonder if the B’ham , Berkley, or other local PDs would do the same in our case? “Thank you, Shannon Akans and Linda Ortiz of the Michigan State Police, for ACCESS to that agency’s WELL-ORGANIZED, BEHEMOTH FILE ON THE CASE.  I am proud to be a citizen of a state that has the Michigan State Police looking out for our welfare.”  [Really?!] The photographs in Ms. Link’s book are “courtesy of the Michigan State Police.”  Wow.  Definitely a Kool-aid drinker, but you can see why—she owes her first book to them and she is now working on a second book about a different murder.  Thank god for the MSP and their willingness to provide “an open book” on the Robison murders!  I bet you all sleep better knowing the MSP is looking out for your welfare.

“A Note to Readers” explains that:  “This is a true story.  It was written nearly forty years after the murder of the Robison family, and many of the people you will meet in these pages were deceased long before I began writing about them.  METICULOUS RECORDS OF THE CASE WERE KEPT BY BOTH THE MICHIGAN STATE POLICE AND THE EMMET COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE, INCLUDING WRITTEN INTERVIEWS OF FRIENDS, FAMILY MEMBERS, BUSINESS ASSOCIATES, SUSPECTS AND OTHERS IN THE MIDST, AND ON THE FRINGES OF, THE INVESTIGATION.”  Records that Ms. Link was allowed to review in this still-open investigation.  This included a 300-page report which was the “result of eighteen months of meticulous police work by detectives who had investigated the Robison case.”  In it all of the pertinent details were forged into a single narrative. Link describes the report:

“Here together for the first time was all of the background research, all of the interviews, the polygraph test results, the lab and autopsy results, and of course those crucial ballistics determinations. The three-hundred-page report was physically heavy, but also loaded down with human expectations.  So precious was their package that to Detectives Stearns and Flis [MSP], who drove north in order to hand-deliver their report safely into the care of prosecutor Donald G. Noggle, it must have felt like they were handing over pages plated with 14-carat gold.”

Prosecutor Noggle later determined there was not enough evidence to file charges against Scolaro. State Attorney General Frank Kelley backed up Noggle’s decision.

Now, if Link can read these meticulous records, stellar written interviews and the gold-plated 300-page report in the still-open Robison murder investigation, why the fuck can’t we look at the records and whatever else they have in the still-open OCCK case?! Bring on the gold-plated power point, boys.  Let’s see what you’ve got.

In 1973, the MSP and Emmet Co. sheriff went to the Oakland County Prosecutor, L. Brooks Patterson, to find a way to sidestep the Emett County prosecutor.   Rumor was that OC was going to issue an arrest warrant for Joseph Scolaro based upon conspiracy to commit murder charges.  When Scalaro caught wind of the imminent conspiracy charges, he offed himself in May 1973.   Like Chris Busch, he ended up in the Wm R. Hamilton Funeral Home, two blocks from our family’s house in Birmingham.  I wonder if he was also cremated.  I’m sure it was a good option for people who had concern about hair and fingerprint evidence, just as it is today for obliterating DNA evidence not already in some database.

As previously mentioned, in 2002, Emmet Co. Sheriff Wallin asked the MSP Forensic Science Division to conduct DNA testing in the Robison case.  Catch this:  “Before the lab work was started, money, and a lot of it, happened to become available for tests on old DNA evidence.  In March 2003, the Forensic Science Division received a $1.4 million federal grant to conduct DNA testing on cold cases.  The grant allowed the Grayling laboratory to select 175 cases from around the state in which there were “existing biological samples” and to test them. The idea behind the grant was that these biological samples would be entered into CODIS (Combined DNA Indexing System), the national crime-fighting DNA database, and checked against existing records.  Adding 175 new cases would also expand the scope of the database itself.”  I am quite sure the OCCK case was never considered as one of the 175.

Emmett Co. detective J.L Sumpter was interviewed about the Robison case in 2007.  He said:  “There is just something about this case.  Once you know a little bit about it, you want to know more.   No, you don’t just want to know more, you have to know more.  It’s like it’s contagious, and what you catch from it is obsession.”

So when you hear law enforcement and prosecutors, past and present, complaining bitterly about the books that will continue to be written about the OCCK case, about podcast and documentaries and other media coverage which might follow, ask yourself if there had been even a modicum of transparency in this case, if they would have been pitted against the public, the kids who were murdered, and against history like they will be.  People who do bad things are bad people.  And so are the people who cover up for them.