“I appreciate your interest in the solving of the Oakland County Child Murders that occurred in the mid-1970s.”

Here is a copy of a letter dated March 29, 2001 from the late Det./Sgt. Ray Anger to the late Helen Dagner:

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A few observations. First, at least Anger was smart enough to respond to Dagner’s information. And in writing! When does that ever happen??? Second, John was alleged to have held more than one passport and to have engaged in passport doctoring. Also, good excuse. Busch tried that one, too, only he got his dates wrong and turns out he returned from Europe in plenty of time to abduct or hold Mark Stebbins in February 1976. On March 16, 1977, the day my brother was abducted, an Oakland County divorce court ordered that John’s parents could proceed with the eviction of the adult son (him) and that the home on Tuckahoe, just a stone’s throw from Busch’s parents home on Morningview Terrace, could be put on the market for immediate sale at an offset price with no broker. The house was sold on March 24, 1977.

Maybe the parents were getting the job done while the adult son was in Europe. Funny thing is that the family when interviewed about this seemed to give different dates and explanations about how he got to Europe.

When he was questioned in 1977 there was apparently no mention of Europe or a passport. We now know that a potential participant’s alibi for a time period relating to just one of the abductions is about as good as the fact that he did not drive a blue Gremlin. And we all know now how well the MSP did with polygraphs back in the day.

There has always been speculation that a cop had to be involved in these crimes. But is it just as likely that it was so easy to stay one step ahead of police in this case, that of course the abductions continued with impunity?

I called a cop to ask about John years ago and he said “Cathy, you can make anything fit if you try hard enough.” Like maybe this?:

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21 Comments on ““I appreciate your interest in the solving of the Oakland County Child Murders that occurred in the mid-1970s.””

  1. Judi C says:

    When I asked about John years ago I was told, “We have bigger fish to fry. “ Shut down. Conversation over.

  2. Kevin Rundel says:

    2 things come to mind. John was cleared by a polygraph and a dna year.

    Ray Anger was one of the biggest assholes I ever met.

    • cathybroad says:

      I agree with your assessment on Anger and this is based on observations from a wide variety of people. Old school cop who worked for a PD that had dangerous free rein back in the day. Repercussions to this day.

    • JC says:

      At this point don’t you doubt everything? There is still material found on victims that needs to be tested and new testing practices – who says anyone can be cleared?

      • cathybroad says:

        Absolutely. LE’s response is full of shit. No one can be cleared. Multiple people were involved. So the magic hairs don’t match their top 14 suspects. How about figuring out who the boys were sold to for sex?! That is the man who is the hair
        donor. Assuming those hairs even really match. How motivated will LE be to chase down the truth, even if handed to them on a silver platter, when it will prove them wrong and show how they missed the leads that could have prevented some of these abductions? They won’t even do genetic genealogy which has been improved dramatically and will be the only way to figure out whose hair was found on the boys. As a reader wrote me this morning, it’s time for this thing to blow open.

        • RD1 says:

          I think it’s likely, that none of the 4 victims were intended to be “for” Chris Busch alone, or “for” Busch and Green(e) alone, but selling or even passing around highly publicized kidnap victims to other adult pervs in the same area would be extremely high risk.

          As Green(e) demonstrated when he fingered Busch for Stebbins murder, and Lawson demonstrated by multiple attempts to portray himself a virtuous informant deserving of the “immunity” he claimed but never did have (and please let me off this murder charge) by fingering Lamborgine, and Gerald Richards demonstrated by ratting out many of his boylover comrades, sex criminals can keep secrets to protect themselves…but think nothing of informing on co-conspirators if there’s something in it for them…”yes, I had that boy at my place for a day, but I got him from CHRIS BUSCH” would be predictable even to Busch or Green.

          Someone who had been in Sloan’s car, in linked to both boys, LE claims? But not Sloan himself. Could be, someone who borrowed Sloan’s car. Could it be, someone who borrowed the car specifically to drop off the boy’s bodies? Could it be, different cars were used to pick the victims up, from the one(s) used to drop them off? Perhaps even driven by different people, for the drop off, than were in the car for the pick up? Those people would have to be legal age to drive, or close to it, but not much more.
          What if the person in Sloan’s car was a young male, privileged to borrow it because he was a Sloan victim at some point, and directed to borrow it by Busch – because he was also a Busch or Busch/Green victim, and one who couldn’t say no because he had been involved with the victims, willingly or by force.

        • RD1 says:

          Back in 2013, you said this in summarizing MPS interviewing DE Bennett in Alabama;
          “Bennett told investigators he knew who Busch and Green were from his arrest in Flint in 1977, but that he never spoke to Busch, only saw his photo on the news at the time. He said he spoke to Green in the Genessee County jail after their arrests. He denied any connection with Busch and Green and said that he has simply molested a boy in the past that Green had molested” – I agree with all that you & others have said, Bennett’s story doesn’t make sense.

          Interesting, however, Bennett claimed he molested a boy “in the past”, that Green also molested. Too bad that MPS considered the interview not worth recording, it would be good to know exactly when in Bennett’s past, he had molested this boy. He’s only 19 at time of arrest, but we can assume he didn’t suddenly take up molesting boys when he turned 18 – eh? Was he 17 when he molested that boy? 16? 15? 14?
          It has occurred to me, that Busch’s attempts to molest/abuse other boys in his family and their friends might not be just the cheap thrills of the moment, but perhaps also in hope of discovering/ generating/ creating more DE Bennett partners in crime.

  3. livoniaguy says:

    Berkley Detective Ray Anger wanted to be the ONE person to solve these murders. It has been reported that Anger’s primary suspect, David Norberg had in his possession a cross with Kristen Mihalich’s name on it. I later read that he planted that evidence. Norberg was from Warren in Macomb County. A sleazeball for sure but not the oCCK.

    All Ray had to do was walk across the street to the Hartford Lanes from the 7-11 where Kristine was abducted. There, he would have found members of the Hastings family bowling and drinking at the Bowling Alley bar. What are the odds that a suspect,John Hastings use to go to THAT bowling alley when there were so many bowling alleys closer to the Hastings home at that time. Strike and Spare,Thunderbird lanes,etc. Just a coincidence?

    As the Kill Jar by J.Reuben Appelman on Page 40:
    “Inside the American Legion Hall party that twelve-year-old Mark Stebbins had departed minutes before his abduction on February 15, 1976,a twenty-something man named John, dark haired and thin, in attendance at his mother’s work party,had been mingling with guests before leaving hastily. Some say he left to go after the Stebbins boy”. Just a coincidence?

    Helen used to exchange emails with me almost daily. She once emailed me about the time Mr.King was supposed to arrive in Alpena to meet John in 1991. Apparently,Mr.King did come up with a detective (Don Staudt?) but John was a no-show at the meeting so they went home.The next day when Helen met with John she angrily asked him,”why were you a no-show?!!!”.John,replied,”I couldn’t be seen by Mr.King. He would have recognized me”. He went on to tell Helen that he had been a group baseball game trip to Tiger Stadium on Tim’s birthday. Well, Helen was not a baseball fan but I was. So I looked July 9,1976(?) and sure enough Mark “The Bird” Fidrych pitched that night in front of 51,000. John also hung around Eton Park’s Ice Rink a lot and Poppleton field watching little leaguers play baseball during his off days He may have known Tim from those places. Just a coincidence?

    Helen also told me that John would also hang around Hobby shops like Tiny Tim’s where kids would play slot cars. This was the last place Jill Robinson was seen. She also told me,although I was never able to verify it,that Jill’s dad was one of John’s teachers at Oakland Community College. He knew who Jill was for some reason. Helen said that John told her that he shot Jill in the face using a.22 with a barrel with his last name…Hastings.Just a coincidence?

    John lived about 1/2 mile away from Chris Busch,who he knew. Just a coincidence?

    Total speculation but perhaps ,just perhaps Hastings and one of his brothers (or brother-in-law Larry Mergos) visited Busch that November 20,1978 night and “offed” Chris.

    IMO, next steps should be a group of law enforcement folks going to the Atlanta suburb where he lives and putting the screws to him. MAKE HIM CONFESS! John knows how it all went down and who helped him(most likely relatives). Another polygraph? They have to be sure to ask the right questions. Throw some curveballs Ask him about the kid of another GM executive,Anthony Morrison fell off the water tower a stone’s throwaway from John’s house in September of 1966. You told Helen that you were at the top of the water tower with your brother Tom and some other guy. “Did you push him John?”. Just a coincidence that you lived between two places where GM execs sons died in 12 years????

    LE,if you reading this and are interested in solving this case and doing your job please do something now before Hastings dies off. He is 70 and has had heart problems in the past.I could go on and on about Hastings but the smoking gun is Alpena Witness. He is 100% credible as a witness. Helen may have had done some embellishing to her stories late in her life but it does not mean most of her information is wrong.

    • Kevin says:

      I was able to verify that Jills dad was a teacher at a OCC. I contacted him because at the time Helen was talking about setting up a college fund in honor of the occk victims. Mr Robinson had a scholarship set up in Jills name. I shared that info with the group and Helen labeled me a fraud who was trying to steal money.
      Helen deserves credit for keeping this case alive. A lot of her info was good but I think some of it was embellished. I think she tried to make her Info fit the evidence sometimes. After reading her court transcripts I understand why she went to jail for 12 counts of fraud and would have problems every trusting her.

      Also I met with and talked to John family a few times.

      • cathybroad says:

        Jill’s Dad certainly was a professor at OCC. I had a reader write me to say that he took an English class from Prof. Robinson and that on the first day of class, he told the class he was Jill’s father. The reader’s recollection of that first day talk was really moving. Another reader told me that as a kid (like 5 years old), he was in a building on the OCC campus waiting in a hallway for one of his parents and fucking Greg Green tried to abduct him.

        What did you think of John’s family? I have to tell you, my impression–and admittedly it is from a distance–is not a good one.

      • bitamoney says:

        Correct. See my comment below.

    • cathybroad says:

      Witnesses have come forward since the Children of the Snow aired to say that Hastings absolutely knew Chris Busch. This is something Hastings denied when interviewed by Det/Sgt. Garry Gray and Det/Sgt/ Cory Williams when they interviewed him in the Atlanta area in the mid-2000’s. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation was contacted and on line to assist. There have also been rumblings about one or more of Hastings’ brothers, too, since the documentary aired. livoniaguy, you are so right. Hastings is ALIVE and for that matter, so are Vince and Paul Gunnels. These men, odds are, are accessories to these crimes or have engaged in obstruction of justice. The murders of these children DEMAND that you stop this DNA charade and start nailing the men and their families who lied to investigators, had knowledge and failed to report the crimes or assisted by “babysitting” these kids or body dumping. You refuse to subject the magic hairs to the most up-to-date DNA testing and genetic genealogy comparisons and you refuse to go after living people like Hastings and the Gunnels. I know you can connect the dots with information you now have. Anger, Gray and Robertson aren’t there to fuck with Helen or anyone else who dares to demand answers. DO THE RIGHT THING, even if it involves eating the humble pie your predecessors left at your table. Alpena Witness is completely credible. Gray, true to form, tried to intimidate and shame him for coming forward. “Sebastian” told the truth about Ray Anger and Jim Cox of the Berkley PD. I think it would be worth investigating what was going on or what was bubbling to the surface in 1999 when Anger and Patterson went after the exhumation order on Norberg. You could argue they had pure motives (even if the affidavit was filled with untruths such as that the necklace belonged to Kristine, and that Norberg had a St. Christopher medal that belonged to Tim (total bullshit))–the private plane to Recluse, Wyoming, the expense, the hard work . . .

      Another explanation is that this was the most cynical ploy yet in this case–something cropped up that made them feel the need to throw a Detroit pedophile under the bus to take off some pressure. They literally said–if the hair (and they didn’t even test all the fucking hairs, because they didn’t even locate them all for another 10 years!) matches Norberg’s DNA, case closed. Dead guy did it. If there is no match (and of course there wasn’t), too bad, so sad.

      So WTF was bubbling up in 1999 that caused law enforcement to believe this creep’s wife’s statements about the “trophies” and how he tied her up, when they didn’t give most people submitting tips the time of day?

    • JC says:

      LivoniaGuy – I don’t have any documents near me right now and I don’t have Appelman’s book at my fingertips but I have to ask, are you saying Mother Hastings worked at Hartfield Lanes?? Is Appelman suggesting that in this:

      As the Kill Jar by J.Reuben Appelman on Page 40:
      “Inside the American Legion Hall party that twelve-year-old Mark Stebbins had departed minutes before his abduction on February 15, 1976,a twenty-something man named John, dark haired and thin, in attendance at his mother’s work party,had been mingling with guests before leaving hastily. Some say he left to go after the Stebbins boy”.

      I truly cannot say for certain but I don’t think Mother Hastings worked outside the home. And I agree that there are a lot of head scratching “Hmmmm” moments with John. Anthony Mitchell (I think you meant Mitchell, yes?) did fall off that water tower to his death which was located right across the street from John’s house. There are too many threads that appear to be dangling but are possibly loosely connected. Another interesting thread woven into this – Charles Busch’s home at the time of these murders was directly across the street from Poppleton Park.

      But the greater distress here is the refusal of the MSP to take the steps necessary with what they do have as far a DNA goes. Cathy is right, so it may not match the current suspects de jour but it may lead them to someone who has answers.

      • crimebuffy says:

        JC, Mark Stebbin’s Mom worked at the American Legion Hall.

        • JC says:

          Thank you. That’s what I thought but the wording in the post (could be Appelman’s words) were confusing and I wanted clarification (and as I said, I don’t have the book here to find the whole quote or its context.) There are too many readers new to these cases to assume they know the nuances.

      • cathybroad says:

        This post is from livoniaguy—the site is not allowing him to post in full, so I will do so here. I apologize to readers who have had trouble posting and will try to figure it out. From livoniaguy:

        JC, no. I am not sure where Mrs. Hastings worked but Kristine Mihelich’s mother did work at Hartford Lanes in Berkley at the time of Kristine’s abduction across the street at Seven-Eleven. Thank you for the correction with Anthony Mitchell’s name.

        Kevin, Helen could get ornery at times. As I stated above and you agreed that sometimes Helen may have embellished information and a lot of her info was good. The fact she had been arrested during the early/mid-80’s doesn’t mean her information is bad. If you don’t want to trust her, fine, but I do in the OCCK matter. I think when she embellished some of her information it was later on on her web page (like 2012-14). I began communication with her in 2006. When Busch suddenly became a public suspect Helen was surprised as she had never heard of Busch. However, she did recall something John had told her. When Helen mentioned that her husband Wally had passed away from suicide in November John replied that he also had a good friend die from suicide in November. Without him mentioning names it must have been Chris Busch.

        Just for your information, Helen did look at other suspects. One was a traveling salesman who had lived in various rental homes including one in Livonia on Perth near Middlebelt. That lead went nowhere. There was another guy whose high school picture looked like one of the wanted posters. Turns out it was a false lead. She also looked into Michael Grant and a guy (Les Martin) from Topix’s suspect Gary? but they turned out to be false leads. You want to know who looked like the wanted poster? Both John and his youngest brother Mike at the time.

        Yes. Helen was involved in a serious crime but it DOES NOT MAKE HER INFORMATION BAD. As I said above, Alpena Witness is the smoking gun. Why would Hastings create a scene at Big Boy in public the day after Christmas of 1991? What did he have to gain constantly telling Helen that he was the killer?

        By the way, who from the Hastings family did you interview and what did they say? I’m sure they were not honest with you and told you John did not do these crimes. They do not want to shame the family name. Mary Hastings Mergos worked for Geoffrey Fieger. Why didn’t she and the family sue Helen for defamation? I could go on and on about the Hastings family. Personally, I was hoping it would NOT be John because we went to the same high school.

        —livoniaguy

    • Cecilia Brown says:

      It’s so gratifying to hear that D. treated you like a human being. I’m a middle aged ex housewife living in GA. When I showed interest in solving the case she used her cop access to my computer and harassed me for months. I think she was crazy and less than upstanding. She didn’t want anyone but her to “solve” the case. Complete egomaniac.


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