Does anyone remember Ralph W. Bryie of West Bloomfield Township?

A reader recently asked about Oakland County Sheriff Johannes F. Spreen, who served as sheriff beginning in 1972 for three consecutive terms. There was clear conflict between Spreen and other law enforcement during the OCCK investigation and his points, especially in hindsight, are very well taken. More on that in another post. A search revealed this January 1980 arrest by Spreen’s deputies of an Oakland County man who committed sex crimes against three boys, for years, beginning when they were 10 or 11:

This man, Ralph W. Bryie, age 35 in 1980, was a salvage inspector WITH GENERAL MOTORS TRUCK & COACH DIVISION IN PONTIAC. Sounds like a pedophile and a trafficker to me. I could not find a photo of him. Does anyone remember this man?


10 Comments on “Does anyone remember Ralph W. Bryie of West Bloomfield Township?”

  1. lisalink63 says:

    Is it Byrie? or Bryie? It is spelled two different ways in the article.

    • cathybroad says:

      You’re right–sounds like its Bryie. Thank you. I used the first spelling in the article, but the rest of the references therein are to “Bryie.”

  2. Meghan says:

    I think it might be “Bryie” – I saw that it’s spelled other spots in the article in that way, and I saw records for someone matching that name/age who lived in W. Bloomfield, moved to KY, and is now deceased. Maybe that spelling of his name will help in the search for a photo/info?

  3. cutter5466 says:

    Cathy, his name later in the article comes up spelled as Bryie. A Ralph W Bryie passed in 2006 in KY. He was 62, meaning the age works out. This might help in your search.

  4. Sheri-lyn Traylor says:

    He died in Kentucky in 2006. Imagine Gene Thacker was his wife at the time. He lived in Indiana during the 90’s.

    Ralph Wayne Bryie
    Birth Date: 25 Feb 1944
    5619 Swan St
    West Bloomfield, Michigan, USA
    48322-1218

  5. Brian says:

    Reading into this at the moment, but the acrimony between Spreen and Patterson goes back at least as far 1973, when Patterson launched a media campaign to get his proposed Organized Crime Task Force set up.

    Spreen commented to the media himself, publicly taking the wind out of the Showboat’s sails.

    Spreen essentially and archly pointed out how odd it seemed that a man recognizing a need for interagency and multi-jurisdictional coordination, so much that he convenes a task force to facilitate it, wouldn’t consult a sheriff whose cooperation he says he needs without having as of yet requested. How odd that Mr. Patterson wouldn’t even inform him of his plans.

    There was a later incident involving Spreen. He became a media hero for a time because of a stand he took, at risk of his reputation. I believe he was taken to court. I’ll find the article again.

    The acrimony was always about law enforcement – and at nearly every turn it seems Spreen called Patterson’s bluff.

    As did McDonald, who wrote in 1975 that still nothing, as of yet, had happened.

    Spreen’s mediated intervention into the OCCK Task Force had a strong precedent, something that must not have been lost on the member of the Task Force who helped Spreen author his comments.

  6. cathybroad says:

    Interesting observation about the ghost-writing/co-writing of Spreen’s comments. Somebody “inside” could see what was (and was not) going on. And Spreen was more than capable of calling Patterson’s bluff at any turn on any case or issue.

    Organized Crime Task Force–pretty humorous when you consider some of the mobbed up people Patterson surrounded himself with. Too bad his alleged organized crime-hating tendencies did not extend to child pornography or pedophile rings.

    Patterson had a case of ass for Spreen because he was a Democrat and didn’t jump ship to run as a Republican when he was elected Oakland County sheriff three times, beginning in 1972. Spreen was the only Democrat at the county level in a county that was for many decades very Republican and liked it some anti-bussing, anti-welfare, anti-pornography, “no deals” prosecuting. He fed his wealthy, white constituency all of his “North of 8 Mile” inflammatory rhetoric. Patterson was trump before trump was trump. Spreen’s 2012 obituary mentions his Bachelor’s of Science, Masters of Public Administration and Ph.D. degrees. I’d wager he was a fair amount smarter than Patterson, JD, whose only myopic focus was on himself. More like a degree from trump University.

    When Patterson’s political ambitions were stymied after he lost a Senate primary in 1978, he lingered in the prosecutor’s office until 1988 when he handed the reins over to his bag man, Richard Thompson, who kept a lid on things for two more terms. It must have been quite the shock for Patterson to return to private practice for those few years before he was elected OC executive and spent 27 more years as the ultimate gate-keeper of his public corruption crimes in the OCCK investigation.

    Had Spreen caught wind of the fine details of Patterson’s involvement in Kristine Mihelich’s case in January 1977 and the investigation into Greg Greene and Chris Busch the last week of that month–if someone with a conscience had come clean in any sense of the phrase–Spreen would have never let this go and the exposed depravity would have been international news. Instead, the MSP was all too willing to “play ball.” They still are.

    In Spreen’s book American Police Dilemma, Protectors or Enforcers? (2003), he describes the 12 years as OC sheriff as filled with “joy, sadness, triumph, tragedy, turmoil, trouble, treachery and much more.” p. 229. I am quite sure even he had no idea of the level of treachery at Patterson’s office. Spreen thanked “all the people and police I have met and worked with along life’s road, both the good and the bad. One can learn from both.” For me, this has all been an incredible–literally unbelievable–lesson, mostly from the bad.


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