I have given COTS [Children of the Snow, on Hulu] two part series multiple repeat viewings, as well as gone over Marney’s book a few times.
Your Dad claimed in post 2006 that a friend of Tim’s from his hockey team worked in a clothing store in Birmingham with many Cop clients. Further, in 1992 he made a sale to a cop and inquired about Tim’s case. The Officer got to the door, but came back to say words to the effect “Don’t worry the case has been solved, and it was the son of a GM Exec”. Later in the book it said Cory confronted Kalbfleisch as to if he was that cop (possible denial at that time), and the book goes onto clarify Kalbfleisch called Cory back to admit it WAS him, and remembered it.
Question: How did Det. Kalbfleisch know in 1992 it was the son of a GM Exec. —- unless that became the knowledge of any or all task force members. ???
Consider the following:
Tim’s friend said the cop also said “we couldn’t touch him [Busch].” They could have touched him if L. Brooks Patterson was not the prosecutor then. I cite to this comment by a reader every chance I get because it is so right on:
23 days ago
Threatening Victims and Witnesses
It should be understood there WAS a another cunning power broker working to manipulate outcomes at the time of the OCCK.
L. Brooks Patterson.
In November of 1975, the underground newspaper The Ann Arbor Sun published a well researched and very public take down of the then Oakland County Prosecutor. The article is titled “Naked Came the Prosecutor”. https://aadl.org/node/200230
Looking back over the decades, the opening line written by reporter Maureen McDonald rings like an urgent alarm on the disasters that lay ahead:
“The darling of the media and leading Young Republican protege, L. Brooks Patterson has parlayed the “evils” of welfare, parole, drunk-driving, drugs and “obscenity” into the most saleable political package the suburban county has ever seen. While Patterson gets great press for his attacks on people who are easily prosecuted and often can’t afford the cost of a trial lawyer. The SUN’s sources indicate that the charismatic young leader may be looking the other way on tougher challenges like organized crime and political corruption in his jurisdiction.”
2 months after this article ran, Mark Stebbins was murdered.
Patterson found his political voice in latching on to useful idiots he could play like a Stradivarius. In the early 1970’s he rose to prominence exploiting the racial tensions over things like busing and chasing down welfare cheats. He didn’t just play the race card, he spoiled the whole deck. He catered to that elite slice of Oakland County, the Bloomfield’s and the Cranbrook’s. The rounds of golf at Oakland Hills. The happy hours. Patterson was able to cultivate that cult of personality because of his hold on and ability to manipulate the Detroit media. Patterson would conduct a masterclass of beguiling reporters with his camera ready looks, couched in the style of a wise-cracking tough guy who wasn’t afraid of a microphone or television camera. Outside of reporters like Maureen McDonald, Patterson enjoyed a fawning media apparatus which in 1976 and 1977 essentially created a safe space for the prosecutor to operate well outside of conventional boundaries, including constitutional limits.
Patterson’s hands were ALL OVER the OCCK investigation.
Notably, Patterson was influential in allowing “psychic sleuth” Bruce Danto to “collaborate” with the task force, a colossal error which essentially ended all chances of solving the entire case. Patterson would even admit in the following years that the series of traffic stops initiated in ’77 on Squirrel Rd, set up under the direction of Bruce Danto’s “subliminal” messages to the killer in the hopes he would take the bait, were unconstitutional. He chuckled when relaying that tidbit, as if to suggest he couldn’t quite believe it himself.
It is important to note that during this time, instead of running his office as prosecutor, Patterson was running for higher office. He was barnstorming the state in 77 and 78 in an attempt to win the US Senate seat in Michigan. The only usefulness for Patterson in regards to the OCCK investigation was to perpetuate it, in order to affect more media attention. The goal wasn’t to catch the killer, the goal was to make everyone AFRAID of the killer, ostensibly so Patterson could swoop in and crack the case.
Until they didn’t.
When they found Busch dead after his “suicide” in 1978 you know that their blood ran cold. They had this guy. He had been on the radar the whole time. For crying out loud, Dick Thompson went up to Flint in the middle of a blizzard to interview these guys. While the scene at Morningside was a little “too” tidy with evidence screaming “I DID IT”, and certainly suggests something off and staged, the conspiracy starts to show some cracks because Patterson would not have missed an opportunity to crack the case and declare they that found the killer, GM and H. Lee Busch be damned. The problem was that Brooksy, Dick Thompson, Cabot and the MSP apparatus knew they missed the ball and a little boy was dead because of it. They covered it up to protect and maintain their own careers. If the truth had been exposed in 1978, L Brooks Patterson’s career, and that of a few others would have been demolished.
Who can orchestrate a cover up better than the man in charge of actually pressing the charges? Who requests the warrants? No evidence – no case. No killer – no problem.
“Maybe he’s dead” they said in ’78. “Maybe he’s locked up” It’s all just a bad dream. Have another drink. Go back to bed.
Remember how quickly the task force folded after Busch’s death…
After losing the Senate race in ’78, Patterson remained the county prosecutor, occasionally taking on cases himself, crusading against strip clubs and advocating for capital punishment. Hollow crusades only intended to placate the base. All while organized crime, child pornography rings and a child killing monster were allowed to roam free.
Patterson has the dubious distinction of presiding over the county prosecutors office at a time where both the Jimmy Hoffa and the OCCK crimes occurred. While not necessarily connected, both have obvious ties to different layers of organized crime. Hoffa’s disappearance traded in the same currency as those with interested in profiteering from child pornography. And it was all going down in Oakland County. And L Brooks chose to look the other way.
It wasn’t just Cass. It was Cass Lake. It was scumbags in suits trading kids like playing cards. And they had the freedom because they must have known on some level they were protected.
I too grew up in the middle of that invisible milieu, invisible right up until the bodies started piling up and fear leeched into the bedrooms and bus stops as children were bombarded with confusing and contradictory messages about strangers and trusting adults.
The corruption, or lack of will was already baked in.
Yes, this case stands as a textbook example of facts falling through the cracks because of infighting among different jurisdictions. Yes, all of this happens against the backdrop of the late 1970’s, an age where the detective work required to solve these crimes was still in its infancy. Multiple mistakes were made. There was a woeful lack of coordination and cooperation. from the start and continued for two years as the investigation unfolded. But Patterson was in that very unique position of one being able to disseminate evidence and information as he saw fit – always looking at how it would benefit him. No deals. Until there is a deal.
I was astonished to read that during that time Patterson refused to reach out to your family in person. It makes sense. While he might be able to help you, you couldn’t do anything for him. That to Brooks Patterson amounted to a waste of time. And four families suffered unnecessarily for it. An an entire generation of (then) children in Metro Detroit remain traumatized to this day.
Chillingly, shortly before his death, Patterson gave an interview in which he said his “biggest disappointment was that of the Oakland County Child Killer, was never identified.”
What a choice of words. He took his secrets to the grave, but subconsciously implicated himself in the process.
Thank you for your courage in sharing your family’s story.
Patterson had been quoted in newspapers a month to the day before my brother’s body was found saying that Busch and Greg Greene were not involved in the child killings. You can say all you want about how the MSP were hotshot polygraphers and that the incompetent Ralph Cabot is the one who “cleared” Busch and Greene and that a passed polygraph meant no more work on that guy!, but on November 20, 1978, Patterson and Richard (“No deals”) Thompson knew they had a very big problem and H. Lee and Elsie Busch were again reminded of their very large, now dead, problem.
In Children of the Snow, Dr. Michael Arntfield, widely regarded as the leading Canadian authority on cold case murders and serial homicides, concludes that multiple people may have been involved in these crimes, but that Chris Busch is the “hub” here. In Episode 6 of the podcast You Know They Know: The Oakland County Child Killer, Dr. Arntfield observers that H. Lee Busch has also been named by credible informers as being involved in what was going on here.
This is the best treatment of the Busch suicide scene by anyone, anywhere. If you listened to this episode, listen again. Seriously. (If the player doesn’t load for you, see the link in the comment section below.)
Here’s who showed up to the Busch death scene according to the Incident Report, authored by Officer Uhrig of the Bloomfield Township PD: Christine Bracken (the maid), Corporal Richard McNamee, Bloomfield Township PD, Charles Busch (older brother of Chris Busch), “family friend” W. Aitken, Detective Quarles (BTPD), I.D. Technician Brabant, Medical Examiner Goebel Brynes, ambulance attendants William Dunbar and Olma Kologink, and TASK FORCE MEMBERS JOHN DAVIS AND RON PIERCE.
Ok, Charles Busch calls police when the maid cannot get into the home? A corporal responds to a “wellness check” because a maid cannot get into the home? We all know that the scene screamed out “child killer,” and that’s why the task force was called. Yet John Davis and Ron Pierce, like Richard Thompson, have amnesia about this incident?
Someone came forward after Children of the Snow aired with insights into the personality and behavior of Chris Busch. This insight included the observation that the dumping of these children’s bodies in the open was a “fuck you” to daddy H. Lee Busch. This person’s information has been basically ignored as near as I can tell.
“We couldn’t touch him.” And you didn’t. No one in Oakland County has made any attempt to set the historic record straight. The only person who did any heavy lifting in this case was Cory Williams, who was not tainted by affiliation with Oakland County. Any “heavy lifting” in Oakland County and by the original OCCK task force was to obscure the truth.
I have seen no records that indicate any investigation whatsoever into the actions of Chris Busch between the day Mark Stebbins went missing and November 20, 1978, when Busch is rotting in his bed. No one backs up and says WTF happened here? No one looks for other victims of Chris Busch. No, they shut this all down. A happy ending as far as the task force was concerned.
Oakland County and the MSP have burned through any credibility here. As Marney Keenan’s book states, when Cory Williams attempts to bring Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper up-to-speed on the investigation after she takes office in 2008, her first reaction is that attorney Jane Burgess would never represent a monster like Busch if he was the OCCK (last time I checked, that is exactly what criminal defense attorneys do). Williams points out Busch plead GUILTY to all of his CSC crimes. Keenan also points out that polygrapher Larry Wasser (worked for Burgess) told Cory Williams early on that, despite the fact that he could not recall the name of Chris Busch, he asked Jane Burgess about this client and Burgess responded that he should not worry because the man killed himself.
Whether or not Greene was out of jail when Tim was abducted on March 16, 1977, Chris Busch most certainly was, as his daddy made sure Chris never spent too many hours in jail on his child rape charges. Busch, when asked by one of his nephews in the parking lot where Tim was abducted, pointed directly to a spot and said Tim was taken “right there.” The nephew tells Cory Williams it scared him and bothered him for years. If Greene was out on the night Tim was abducted (he certainly matches the composite drawings), he was back in jail by March 22. Greene was the one who enjoyed snuffing the life out of children. This time, Busch had to take care of everything without his partner. That’s part of the reason why Tim was dumped in Wayne County. The team was broken up; that’s why the killings stopped. The fucker couldn’t handle it all on his own. That’s why he tells polygrapher Larry Wasser specifically about Tim’s case. Busch wasn’t afraid of that pesky task force–why would he be? This task force went on to protect Busch’s name and the reputation of his entire family.
OF COURSE THIS WAS COMMON KNOWLEDGE ON THE TASK FORCE, and probably common lore among most of law enforcement in Oakland County. I believe it is part of the reason L. Brooks Patterson kept his hand on the tiller in Oakland County for the rest of his life. You people prevented answers and our ability to file a wrongful death suit in this case. Of course this shit eventually bubbled to the surface and put us in the position we have been since Richard Lawson tried to weasel with Cory Williams in his murder case and Larry Wasser soon after fucked up.
I need to point out something else. In November 2007, I was visiting Birmingham and my Dad leaned on me hard to go to breakfast with a cop who was affiliated with Tim’s case from the beginning and bring him up to speed on the Wasser/Busch lead, which was still very much below the radar. This cop did not ask ONE question as I told the story. Just sat there. Every person I have ever tried to tell this story to has a million questions; stopping me mid-sentence numerous times with “wait, wait–WHAT?!” Not a single question. A couple of cops along the way weighed in early with some version of “polygraphers are full of shit.” That is true of disgraced Ralph Cabot, but as for the rest of it–nice try. We know now who is full of shit, don’t we?
As Dr. Arntfield states in Jason’s podcast, the cone of silence around this case has always steered this case and the lack of formal resolution–however, he believes, as I do–with reasonable certainty we can say that Chris Busch was involved and was in fact “the hub.” He notes that the evidence certainly easily meets the standards used in a wrongful death case. You cannot seriously make the argument that the task force, the OC prosecutor’s office, and law enforcement in general in Oakland County did not know about this seemingly “happy ending” to the OCCK case. Even with the release of another book on this case, and with inside information from a lead detective, the Busch lead just sits a few inches out of reach. Listen to Episode 6 of Jason’s podcast and ask yourself why that might be the case.
Yes, Patrick. You and I know this had to be common knowledge. Yet we all get fucked with for trying to get some truth here. I can certainly agree with the meme that has been floating around since the murder of George Floyd: You never see a sign saying “Fuck the Fire Department.”