“It turns out that hair is a very, very good capsule for storing DNA. It’s insoluble, it doesn’t dissolve in water.”

Dr. Ed Green, Associate Professor of Biomolecular Engineering at University of California-Santa Cruz who developed a forensic technique that extracted autosomal DNA from rootless hair. https://abcnews.go.com/US/jane-doe-child-case-uncovered-serial-killer-identified/story?id=69648434. Last night a show aired on ABC 20/20 called “The Chameleon” about serial killer Terry
Rasmussen and his connection to the Bear Brook murder cases. It was based in part on the work of a New Hampshire Public Radio podcast we’ve discussed before. https://www.nhpr.org/post/note-listeners-bear-brook-podcast-abc-2020-program-0#stream/0. It is a complex case, but the players involved in solving these crimes involved a dogged detective, web sleuths, a podcaster, a genetic genealogist and Dr. Green. If you missed it, five part segments of the show have been uploaded to Youtube and I presume the rest of it will follow. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eB8fRWxtAY8.

Yes, we’ve talked about this before. https://catherinebroad.blog/2020/03/07/ and https://catherinebroad.blog/2019/09/16/. If the MSP and FBI had submitted this hair back in the fall when it was first being discussed, they might have answers by now. Instead, with the coronavirus floating around, this may never get taken care of. Yes, in cases of Rasmussen’s victims and those of the Golden State killer, third party testing was involved. It worked for them! And the FBI isn’t exactly getting the job done here.

While all of the evidence in the OCCK case needs to be rerun using the most advanced DNA testing available, let’s focus on the hair evidence. The hair evidence that can now be tested to yield autosomal DNA evidence that can be used by a genetic genealogist to find the donor of said hairs.

There are, by the Oakland County prosecutor’s own admission, three hairs, all allegedly from the same source. One found on Mark Stebbins in February 1976, one found in the Pontiac Bonneville owned by Arch Sloan soon after, and one found on Tim King in March 1977 (although two hairs were found on Tim). https://detroit.cbslocal.com/2012/07/17/breaking-news-update-in-oakland-county-child-killer-case/.

Leaving aside the fact that the state police never have gotten their story straight here–“The case will be considered solved if the results [of David Norberg’s DNA] match DNA evidence from a single strand of hair found in 1977 on the body of eleven-year-old Timothy King of Birmingham, Michigan, the last of the victims.” 2020-03-21_170939 (from Preserve, Protect and Defend, An Illustrated History of the Michigan State Police in the Twentieth Century, by Inspector Phillip D. Schertzing (2002)). The late Ray Anger, of Berkley PD fame and detective emeritus on the task force, had a funky view of the evidence they were working with. https://catherinebroad.blog/2018/08/08/great-great-great-grandparent/

And we know there was a hair found on Kristine’s coat which was a mtDNA match to Vince Gunnels. I believe that hair was extinguished during testing because it was a small segment of hair. Was that hair also tested in 1999 when Norberg’s body was exhumed? Or just that “lone” hair found on Tim King?

But let’s get back to those three hairs. Four if the two hairs found on Tim, one in his nasal cavity and one in his groin area do not have the same mtDNA sequence. WHY are they not being tested the way the hairs were tested in the Bear Brook/Rasumussen serial killer case? WHY?

Maybe you have already spoken with Dr. Green and Barbara Rae-Venter (also known for her work in helping to solve the Golden State Killer cases) and have used the past six months to advance the ball on retesting those hairs and all of the evidence in the OCCK case. If you haven’t, when can we expect an answer about how and when you will proceed? I bet the DOJ would be shocked by how you stored and store evidence in this case, even applying 1976 and 1977 standards. Maybe they could take a tour of your little evidence shed and take a gander at how you have “computerized” all of the tips.

By the way, it seems like a year ago when I posted on March 16, 43 years to the day my brother Tim was abducted. At this stage in his captivity (five days in), he had about 24 hours left to live, if that’s what you want to call the last 24 hours of his life–“living,” which included his captors feeding him chicken and corn according to the autopsy.

5 thoughts on ““It turns out that hair is a very, very good capsule for storing DNA. It’s insoluble, it doesn’t dissolve in water.””

  1. I’m sorry that I bug you with email responses. This case bothers me like no other. I grew up in the 70s in northern Indiana. I Have three young children. Two boys, aged 9 and 8 and a girl aged 6. I am paralyzed in some moments from the sick feeling I get thinking about Tim and the other victims. I know I send emails asking you how to help, but this shit is so ridiculous, I am just going to try to start taking action. Fucking corona or not. There is so much bullshit around this it makes me want to lie in a ball and cry. Your mom was a warrior- because I’m sure I would have tried to follow him there. You are amazing- your whole family- for being strong and fighting for so long. I’m going to start pressing the very popular podcasters to pick up this fight. Especially the one with Paul Holes. If there is anything thing else I can do to help, please let me know. I would have probably gotten a gun and tried to kill these fuckers years ago. Sorry for the language. Stay safe and keep being the light for your brother. Katie Echiverri

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  2. Thanks, Katie. Don’t worry about language with me. I appreciate your words and your ideas. I get overwhelmed with the backlog I have on emails related to this case so I apologize for not responding most of the time.

    Here’s an interesting story about guns. At some point after Vince Gunnels name was outed as a mtDNA match to the hair found on Kristine Mihelich’s jacket, he contacted my Dad and asked if my Dad would drive to Kalamazoo to meet with him and his AA sponsor. You read that right. My Dad and one of my brothers went for this meeting. Gunnels read from a prepared statement and denied any knowledge or participation in the OCCK murders. I wonder how the 9th step works if you lie. Oh well. Gunnels did describe being raped by Chris Busch. Charges were filed against Busch for these crimes in two different counties. I am not sure of the dates off the top of my head, but this was before March 1977. He explained that his father told police he was going to get a gun and kill Busch. Totally understandable. The cops told Gunnels dad not to worry, because Busch had hung himself and was dead, which was a lie. We know now that it would take until November 1978 for somebody to get that job done. And of course Bloomfield Township PD and the state police made sure old H. Lee Busch and his wife Elsie got to keep their “good names.” Must be nice.

  3. Hi Catherine.
    My name is Jim Wilday and I was Tim’s friend back in Birmingham. I was 12 at the time. Tim and I used to make card houses on your living room floor and shoot them down with rubber bands. I remember him as an amazing kid and a good friend. Very coincidentally, I was looking through old bins of pictures yesterday and came across the funeral remembrance card from March 1977. I noticed the date on the card, March 22, the day Tim left us. Yesterday was March 22. Some additional related coincidences happened yesterday that frankly blew my mind a bit (too complex to explain here). Made me dig a little today and I found you. So wanted to reach out. I think about Tim often and wonder where he would be now. Not sure if you remember me but might be good to connect. I support everything you’re up to!

  4. Hi Jim, how awesome to hear from you, Did Tim call you Jimbo? When I read your comment, I could hear Tim’s giggle and laugh. That was wonderful. I have learned in the past decade not to ignore those little coincidences and to be better at trusting my gut. The Universe wants this case solved and all signs point to that. So much patience is required, but I am in this thing now until the end. Until it is either solved, or all the people and reasons for it never being solved are made plain. Thank you for reaching out, Jim. I really appreciate it.

    1. Thank YOU Cathy. Funny enough,I think Tim did call me Jimbo! It’s a distant memory for sure. But one memory that is so crystal clear is Tim’s rendition of Elbow Room from Schoolhouse Rock. He had a sleepover party, must have been for his 11th birthday. We were in the basement and Tim was jumping around singing that song and swinging his elbows back and forth. Everyone joined in. It was brilliant.

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