Everyone who is even vaguely familiar with the OCCK case associates it with a blue Gremlin. A woman in the parking lot Tim King was abducted in told police she saw a boy matching Tim’s description, talking to a man standing next to a blue Gremlin with a white hockey stripe. Then all you heard about for the next 40-plus years was the blue Gremlin.
If you have read Marney Keenan’s book, The Snow Killings, Inside the Oakland County Child Killing Investigation, you know that in Chapter 14 she breaks down the tragedy of errors and lack of communication to the public with information about cars that may have been involved in these crimes. Another tragic missed opportunity to have possibly made an arrest.
Her well researched and documented conclusion:
The common denominator from witness accounts in all four victims’ cases was a General Motors vehicle, likely a compact or sedan, even more likely a Pontiac Tempest or Oldsmobile Cutlass, blue or green in color. [Detective] Williams ran [Doug] Wilson’s license plate numbers [discussed under hypnosis] and all other variations, and checked all vehicles of known suspects for a LeMans, Tempest and Cutlass, without success.The Snow Killings, p. 179-180.
As Keenan describes in this chapter, photographs of the bumper impressions in the snow at the Mihelich crime scene were analyzed to reveal measurements that were then taken to the car manufacturers to help identify the make and model of the car. This process took over a year and on September 7, 1978, the Michigan State Police issued a press release about this possible car and others associated with the other abductions and body drops.
The next day, The Detroit Free Press asked “Child Killer in Pontiac?”
Of course the task force was shutting down at the end of the year, and who knows if there is any documentation on leads that came in after this relatively confusing press release and the resulting news article.
When the task force was allegedly back on track in 2005, retired Det./Lt. Jack Kalbfleisch contacted Det./Sgt. Garry Gray at the MSP and suggested they provide the car information to the public. Gray responded that this would result in too many useless leads and would be embarrassing (after their decades of Gremlin love). Kalbfleisch asked to see his old report concerning the bumper impressions. Gray’s response: Can’t find it. So everyone had to operate on decades-old memory while Gray and Robertson stood guard over their file cabinets.
Marney Keenan was kind enough to provide me with the copies of the MSP FOIA documents she obtained concerning Doug Wilson’s hypnosis session, and the observations of a witness near where Jill Robinson’s body was left.
You will find them very interesting.
A simple Wikipedia search reveals that the Pontiac LeMans was at first a trim upgrade on the Tempest, and then the LeMans model evolved over ensuing years. And don’t forget that Chris Busch drove a blue Vega with a white hockey stripe–at least he did in March 1977. And that Bob Moore had his crew chop up a blue Gremlin at his house of horrors. There is no end of rabbit holes when a case like this gets fucked up.
At the end of the day, the biggest question is why this car information was not made public in a timely fashion in a way that would have moved the case forward. And then when the MSP was allegedly taking another pass at this case in 2005, why this car information was not made public at that time.
I can’t reinvent the wheel on this car stuff or say it any better than Marney Keenan did in Chapter 14, so I refer you there for further details. Thank you again for the documentation. It really helped.
When you think about the failure to ever release the two composite drawings of the older and younger man and the failure to get this car information straight and tell the public, the need to have this case removed from the hands of the MSP is self-evident. They don’t have the desire, time or the resources to undue the damage they have done in this case. Obviously they would rather have you think Marney’s book is fictionalized. It’s not. Don’t let yourself be further gaslighted by this public agency. It’s outrageous.
If you have a tip, now that you have read these previously unseen FOIA documents, call the tip line–not because you will get a call back, but to help document that the tip line is a sham. Note the date and time you called and the information you gave and whether you ever got a call back. This information can help support a push to have this case independently reviewed by a responsible agency.
Tip Line: 833-784-9425