Cars and Gaslighting.

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

8 thoughts on “Cars and Gaslighting.”

  1. Hi Cathy, I have always been confused about the cars because, some reports say the vehicle involved was a 1967 Pontiac Tempest and other reports including Doug Wilson’s, who I believe was a car designer said it was a 1973 Pontiac LeMans. I wanted to include a photo in my posting but, it wont let me. I am a car guy so i know how both of these cars look. There is nothing special about the back end of the 1967 Tempest, it was a basically a copy of the GTO at the time, the back end is fairly flat and wouldn’t leave much of a impression in the snow. The 1973 Pontiac LeMans on the other hand had a very unique back end where the taillights were built into the rear bumper. It was very unique for the time and no other cars had that type of design, it would very much make an impression in the snow.



  2. My boyfriend in 1969 had a copper colored Cutlass. It was a boat. It wouldn’t be considered a compact car, for what it’s worth. I hate to give Michigan LE any points, but maybe they didn’t want to talk about the cars in an effort to keep the perp from dumping it.
    I bet pictures of any of these cars can be found online.

    1. Eventually, if LE gets no where with the car info, wouldn’t it make sense to release it? So give them some time so the perp is not aware LE is looking for the car—but at some point, ask for the public’s help before it is too late.

  3. Every time I read about these cars I get the chills. In 1966/67 my husband and I were driving new cars, a 1967 light blue Tempest (no trailer hitch on a brand new car) that I bought from Jim Fresard Pontiac in Royal Oak and a 1967 “shiny” blue Buick Gran Sport straight off the assembly line in Flint and picked up by my husband at a Buick dealer in Royal Oak. We sold both cars a couple of years later. Where did they end up? To top it all off, in 1977, my next door neighbor in Clawson drove a Blue Gremlin with the white hockey stripe on it. He said he had been stopped at least 15-20 times after Tim was kidnapped. He was a young guy, dark hair, with a wife and two small kids. I did see cops at his house one time, questioning him I assume. They did not live there long, probably moved out of Oakland Co to get away from it all. I cringe every time I read about these cars. No idea if they could be traced or not. Any receipt we may have had when we sold them have long been lost. No, I’ve never called anything in. I didn’t even know about these cars until I started reading this blog.

  4. The press release above mentions several sightings of a light blue ‘66-‘67 Pontiac Tempest and we know Arch Sloan owned a ‘66 Pontiac Bonneville. These models have a resemblance to one another and I suppose a non-car person could confuse the two, especially being that these cars were roughly ten years old. I haven’t been able to find a mention of the color of Sloan’s car and there’s apparently no photos of it because at the press conference announcing the discovery of the matching hair there was a picture handed out of a random ‘66 Bonneville as an example. Do we know for sure that his car was a Bonneville? I assume LE would have recorded the VIN but MI titles and registration list only the make, year and body style, not the model or color. Both might be able to be decoded from the VIN however. Also, did Gunnels have a car that he owned or borrowed?

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