What improves the chances of solving a murder?

Not living in Oakland County, for starters. An article in today’s NYT examined the clearance rate for murders and the common belief that chances for solving a murder start to evaporate after 48 hours. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/23/upshot/murder-crime-solving.html.

“Unsolved murders and nonfatal shootings means justice denied to the victims of those crimes and their families,” said Justin Nix, an associate professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. “A low clearance rate, especially for these most serious of crimes, might be interpreted by community members as a signal that the agency (1) doesn’t care about or (2) is not very good at keeping them safe.” This can lead to retaliatory violence instead of cooperation with the police, he said.


Here is just a sampling of murder cases have never been solved or cleared in Oakland County. All of these murders took place during the reign of law and order prosecutor L. Brooks Patterson:

  1. The July 30, 1975 disappearance and presumed murder of Jimmy Hoffa.
  2. The February 19, 1976 murder of 12-year-old Mark Stebbins
  3. The August 7, 1976 murder of 13-year-old Jane Allen
  4. The December 26, 1976 murder of 12-year-old Jill Robinson
  5. The January 21, 1977 murder of 10-year-old Kristine Mihelich
  6. The March 22, 1977 murder of 11-year-old Tim King
  7. The August 7, 1977 torture slaying of 43-year-old GM exec Carson McDowell
  8. The September 20, 1977 murder of 50-year-old Birmingham art dealer John McKinney
  9. The October 28, 1978 murder of 48-year-old Gail Webster

7 thoughts on “What improves the chances of solving a murder?”

  1. In the Oakland County cases, I would go with doesn’t care about. Brookes false image as Oakland County being a Utopian Garden Of Eden was being protected, while children were dying. It’s outrageous that to this day, wealth buys silence. When you have executives, and politically connected individuals committing the crimes, silence is golden, and the kids were the sacrificial lambs.

  2. Bob,

    This is the first time I’ve seen the names of Carson McDowell and Gail Webster.
    Are they associated with the OCCK case?

    Bob Kenney

      1. Cathy, I did read about both Carson McDowell and Gail Webster in old newspapers. Funny. Gail lived 5 minutes from John McKinney’s residence and 7 minutes from the old Landmark restaurant in Troy. Could Gail have been the mysterious woman seen with McKinney at the restaurant the night of his murder? She was also the manager of the Susie-Q restaurant on Woodward in Royal Oak. Did John Hastings wash dishes at that restaurant at some point too? It had to be close to Biffs where we know John worked.

        Odd – yet another GM related murder in Carson McDowell.
        1) Anthony Mitchell’s dad worked for GM
        2) Chris Busch’s dad work for GM
        3) Carson McDowell was a GM executive

        Now, I know GM is and was a huge company with many employees. Old man Hastings worked for Zollner Pistons and sold to GM. I wonder whether or not John, by way of his father’s complaints of GM took some revenge out on that company.

        I am just thinking out loud and perhaps I am adding 2 + 2 and getting 5 but

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