No Sunshine in Oakland County

The family of an Orlando woman missing for 13 years announced they will receive the unreacted police files from the Orlando Police Department.

The family filed suit against the police department to obtain their records on the case so their private investigator could try to make some headway where the PD had not.  As part of the settlement, the PD has to turn over the unreacted files in the case.  Unreacted. Thirteen year old unsolved case.

In 1995, four Florida newspapers, the Mobile Press Register, the Sun Sentinel, the Palm Beach Post, and the Miami Herald, sued the Hollywood (Florida) Police Department to gain immediate access to the HPD files on Adam’s case.  After 14 years, there had been no arrests and no updates.  The court rejected all of the “open case” exception arguments under the Florida Sunshine Law (Freedom of Information Act), as well as the family’s arguments against release and ordered the HPD to put all the files on microfilm and have it available within four months.  At the time of the deadline, news organizations paid $235 a piece for a set of microfilm.

Fourteen year old, unsolved case.  $235 per set of microfilm.  As you probably know, the case was ultimately closed by HPD when they admitted and concluded that one of their early suspects was no doubt the killer.  The chief of police acknowledged and apologized to the Walsh family.

In this sorry case, my Dad paid over $11,000 for redacted documents from the Michigan State Police.  And trust me, they didn’t turn over everything they should have.  And they made my Dad file a lawsuit to get those documents.  The Oakland County Prosecutor’s office fought the FOIA request all the way.  None of the courts in Oakland County or the higher courts cited one, single case citation to the Michigan Sunshine Law/FOIA.

Here is what a pamphlet on the Michigan FOIA law concludes with:

When in doubt, consider the policy of the Act.  Analysis should begin with the presumption that any records requested are subject to disclosure.  No records are exempt unless they fit within one of the specific exemptions, which will be narrowly construed.  The best policy for a public body is to accept the pro-disclosure intent and language of the act and to respond accordingly.

Click to access everything-meetings-foia(Mathewson).pdf

It has been a long time since I read Tears of Rage by John Walsh (1997).  He says much that bears repeating, but this hits hard:

Many different kinds of people are victims.  And the system doesn’t serve any of them.  It brutalizes them all.  Violence against women and children is a symptom.  A symptom of how the lofty goals this society was founded on do not apply to the weak.  The system that was designed to protect these women and children–and now men–instead victimizes them and revictimizes them.

Id., p. 378.

Thank you to Nina Innsted for sending me the link about the Jennifer Kesse case.  In this more than forty year old case, Michigan has managed to keep the lid on tight.  The media never went after the MSP or Oakland County.  In many other unsolved cases, officials have been forced to comply with FOIA laws and their bullshit “forever open” exception is rejected.  And let’s not forget our friends at the FBI who allegedly could not produce any records on Fox Island, Frank Shelden or Chris Busch because the files were lost in a catastrophic flood.  Don’t you love it when a bullshitter uses extra adjectives to bolster an answer?

I hope all of the dirty players at every level and every stage in the investigation in the case are one day revealed.  When you contrast this case to the cases described above, you know something is very rotten here.



24 thoughts on “No Sunshine in Oakland County”

  1. Oakland County Prosector- shame on you. 40 years- case “still open”. Show the victims families when the last time anyone from Oakland County put in any hours on this case- other than dodging FOIA, and wasting taxpayer dollars taking it to court.
    When the examples of the many known cases, like the one in Florida come up, it is more clear than ever that the incompetent OCP is not only dodging, but kicking sand in the faces of the victims and their families.
    John Walsh hit the nail on the head. So very sad. So very wrong.

  2. I’ll say it again. If I were still a resident of Oakland County I would be happy to request a FOIA on how much time and money is spent on these cases each month. Is there a line item in the budget? If they are really working on it, show us the man hours put into it each month. Open and Ongoing is the easiest wall to throw up to keep their little secrets from being exposed.

  3. Cathy, Now I am no lawyer, but this development in Florida should set a precedent. Could you and your father go back to court and petition the court again citing this case. Sunshine laws are federal and should be uniform across state lines. I hope you and your dad keep fighting. $11,000 is outrageous. The MSP could also put the UNTEDACTED files on microfilm. Take them back to court!!!



  4. The older I get and the more I learn, the more I realize it just may be better to live in the middle of the woods or on a distant shore somewhere alone. This world could be so amazing, but somehow along the way human beings became self-motivated, ego-driven, sick, and greedy. WTF happened to this race?!?! Better to be an actual animal in the wild…at least they have a reason for killing and politics are in the open from the get go.
    This case angers me beyond belief. If I still lived in Oakland County, I swear I would become a vigilante and get any missing files any way I could.
    Patterson was probably on the damn list. Just sayin.

  5. Dana Nessel brought charges on the Danielle Stislucki case when it was just sitting there in Oakland county with no activity. Is there any way that she can be approached about OCCK CASE . ? SHe is attorney general but took over as prosecutor in the Danielle Stislucki case.

  6. What makes Michigan so special? What makes Michigan so corrupt. Other states and jurisdictions have to cough it up but not my home state! WHY NOT?

    1. GM…that’s why…they run this state, politically corrupt along with police and tother gov offices.Remember that the info printed in papers and on TV from the government and companies is only the small amount of info they want the public to know, anything they don’t want us to know is illegal, immoral and unethical…or why not print it?? This world keeps getting sicker and sicker by the day.

  7. Such an informative post. Interesting point about the media… where is the pressure? As much as I’d like it to be true, I don’t know how we are supposed to believe that the most powerful authorities care about justice/resolve. By opening the case, who/what is exposed and why does it still matter? Perhaps ONE family? Perhaps those working the cases in the early stages trying to save face? Is it really worth it???

    I knew a family in Michigan who claimed their uncle was Sirhan Sirhan. They never claimed that it had ANY affect on their public perception.

  8. For what it’s worth, my son works for a politician at the state capital. This politician’s district is in Oakland County. They have been getting calls non stop about Jessica Cooper’s inaction in turning documents over to the families. Rumor is she will be retiring very soon.

  9. Cathy, I have binged on your site, along with your fathers for weeks. I have long been into true crime…and kind of fell out of it after the crime library went down. Of course local crimes were of interest to me, I grew up in Macomb county. I have heard of the oakland county child killings. I remember their names, and I thought I had all the information on the case from newspaper and t.v. accounts I am amazed at the amount of information I didn’t have about this case (and I’d imagine many others). The amount of information from victims families as well as some commenters coming forth on your sites is staggering. I am a cynical person by nature, but mind is now blown about how our system works. I have nothing to add to this blog other than my thanks. I can’t imagine how it feels to be this disrespected by the government where you live. Anyway, like I said I don’t have anything to add except my thanks for you doing this unbelievably hard work. I guess the reason for my comment is to let you know there is yet someone else out there who cares for your hard work. Print, or don’t print…up to you!

    with warmest regards,

    Bill Kannon

    1. I have called the tip line with no reply back, I am still trying however, I am sure that our attempted kidnapping is the key to many things, I would like the attempted kidnapping to be known, and would like the answers why it has never been revealed.
      I hurt for the children and know they look down on me everyday and see that I am trying to help them and their families.
      I believe that we survived to be the witnesses and could identify him, there is no better evidence than seeing the face in mine as I pulled away from him.
      Does someone have advice for me, how can I go on with my life knowing what I know and can’t get the information out there that may solve these evil crimes against children?
      I keep dreaming about his face and about the attempted kidnapping it is consuming me, I am a veteran and I feel that if no one is listening, I will go up the chain of command and write my congressman, there is not a person in Michigan that has not heard of this case, it is time to start clearing through the bad cops and bad politicians and make them accountable.
      I will call that tip line one more time, and if I do not get any justice out of it, we will have to start using our Congress for what they are there for, please pray for me to get through and help these families have peace and also myself.
      No one can imagine what I am going through knowing the truth of who he is, and no one to listen.
      Please families believe I am never going to give up helping these cases.

  10. I have left the final message to the tip line, I told them that if I did not get a call back I would write my congressman that this tip line is a fake, I know it is not a military affair, but it is a lawless affair and the laws of Michigan need to be changed to close this case, I will let you know which direction it goes, I am pretty sure we all can not trust MSP they have shown that, so maybe it is time to try into other directions to get files released.

  11. Announcement of L. Brooks Patterson being diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. Wondering if this will change the information chain.

  12. FOIA laws vary by State and PA is very bad about this as well. The PSP in particular never release anything. Then after 75 years they destroy the casefile and forget about it.

    1. In Oakland County, they “forgot about it” after November 1978. I’m sure those at the top of the task force and prosecutor’s office destroyed things long ago as well. Destroy and forget. Must be nice.

  13. I am very happy to tell all of you the tip line called me back after I left that message, I was able to tell the detective about my attempted kidnapping in 1977, I made it very clear that I believe it was arch sloan, the detective told me he would be seeing arch in a few weeks, I told him to ask him about the two little girls that got away from him in Lake Orion, and how he felt when he realized he was on a dead end road after his attempt, and take a picture of his face for me I would love to see that, the detective said, “I can’t wait to ask him about you and see his face.”
    The detective also said he would look in the archives for the police report in Lake Orion, Mi.
    I feel confident that I have done something to help this case, and I am at peace, maybe all of them that are involved know that one of them can be identified maybe it will break the silence.
    The detective said he would call me back after he sees sloan, and would let me know when he finds the police report I made in Lake Orion.
    I told him “You are a new generation and I am going to put my trust in you all to get it done.”
    If anyone out there has any information at all please call it in, this is a huge jigsaw puzzle that needs all the pieces, even the smallest detail can matter, I truly believe our time frame of attempted kidnapping will reveal who they all were.
    I am sorry that the 4 children had to lose their lives, but I am not sorry that I escaped to tell.

    I felt a peace last night I have done all I can do and know the children watched me fight, and get it done for all of them and their families.

    1. Oh, l.h., that is such good news. Thank you for updating us. The old guard is gone now, and the detective you are dealing with will do all he can. Awesome news. Thank you again, I know it’s hard and that you have carried a lot over the decades.

  14. Cathy,
    It gave me great pleasure to try to help in the cases of all the children’s family members to get some closure, I look forward to keep helping as the detective said he would call me back in a few weeks after they find my police record and description from when I was a child, I still see the face and would testify to it if I had too, that makes me a little nervous to say, but I am truly testifying to the man I remember trying to get us and after you posted the young picture of arch sloan that is the face I saw staring in mine, he looked so innocent and talked so kind to us, I feel so disgusted something so evil talked to me and touched me.
    To be continued when the detective goes up to arch and asks about us, he promised he would call me back and let me know his reaction it will be interesting, I am happy to say we probably have been on all the OCCK clans minds the two that go away.
    I’ll let you know as soon as I hear something from the detectives.
    I pray for you and all the families involved to have peace, I am sure they has to be other children out there that saw something in the 70’s that will help this case, it feels good the burden is off of me and I know I have made a difference for all of you.
    I talk to all 4 children that are up in Heaven and I say the same thing, “I will not stop for all of you, I will not weaken and I will be heard of what I know, I know I know what all of you know, I am sorry that you are not here to tell with me, but I am the voice for all of you.”
    God bless you all and all of your families.

  15. From an article I read about the Kesse case: “It’s not our practice to turn over files or case notes of information to anyone in the public, and we believe that could possibly jeopardize this investigation as well as set a precedent in future investigation,” former Orlando police Chief John Mina said in January 2018.

    But the settlement means the Orlando Police Department must hand over the records in the case.

    The family reportedly paid over $18,000 for the unredacted records.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: