Two days ago readers were going back and forth about witness descriptions of the man seen talking with my brother in the parking lot of Hunter-Maple Pharmacy the evening he was abducted. That this man was wearing a sports jacket is no surprise, is it? Just a regular B’ham guy shopping on his way home from work, or a dad talking with his son. Or someone posing as an undercover cop or security at the pharmacy.
In The Kill Jar, Obsession, Descent, and a Hunt for Detroit’s Most Notorious Serial Killer (2018), by J. Reuben Appelman, he describes a near-miss as a kid during the OCCK era when a man tried to abduct him after he left a drugstore. Seven-year-old Jason had seen this man, dressed in a rust-colored blazer, shirt and dark tie, strolling around the store and assumed he was a security guard. After an aborted attempt to shoplift bubble gum, Jason ran out of the store and this man followed, first on foot and then in a compact car. He pulled up a few feet from Jason, opened passenger door, leaned over and reached out. Jason ran, cutting through yards.
So in the pedophile/kidnapper playbook, security guard or undercover cop at a neighborhood drugstore–a place where decades ago preteens routinely exercised some degree of independence before the OCCK era changed history for kids and parents alike–is a pretty good ruse. I saw you shoplifting, let’s go call your parents and clear this up. Or, in Jason’s case, some criminal asshole just pulling up in a car and opening up the passenger door. Get in; I have on a coat and tie; I mean business.
And FOIA documents establish that pedophile and favorite confidential informant of DPD’s Ike McKinnon, the late Richard Lawson, maintained he had been given a police badge by DPD for his “undercover” work. Documents and news articles also establish that the incarcerated pedophile Arch Sloan had been a volunteer firefighter in Pennsylvania and had a little badge to go along with that gig.
A reader pointed out to me that a comment from a few months ago with a link to a 2009 Oakland Press article about the private sale of “badges” warranted a deeper dive. I agree. Here’s the comment from February 2022:
Another reader pointed out to me the implications contained in this brief comment. FOIA documents indicate that Det. Ray Anger’s favorite OCCK suspect and exhumee, David Norberg, “may have known Attorney John Agnew of Royal Oak (ex-Oakland County Prosecutor, juvenile division, during time of child killings), when in [sentence not finished and page may be missing].” https://catherinebroad.blog/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/1-Suspect-David-Norberg-Final.pdf (see page 4). This same page from Anger’s December 1995 write-up of suspect David Norberg also indicates attorney Agnew was friends with convicted pedophile Larry Smith.
I did not know an assistant prosecutor from Oakland County was ever a suspect or turned in on a tip in the OCCK case (I have not seen any documents to verify this). This possibility, as well as the allegations of child porn use, makes the link the commenter provided where Agnew is quoted about the private sale of badges article quite breathtaking.
In that 2009 Oakland Press article, the president of a company that sold “badges” for attorneys that too closely resembled sheriff’s badges is bitching about criticism from the Macomb sheriff about the obvious potential confusion and misuses of this little prop. These badges were supposedly for private attorneys for god’s sake and said “attorney” and “officer of the court.” Why waste money on business cards, right?
Agnew, who purchased one of these badges for “display on his wall,” tells the Oakland Press that he can’t understand what the problem is. “What’s wrong with making money in the United States?” he asked. “It’s not selling dope or child porn.”
Interesting choice of words by this attorney/badge purchaser.
A reader helped me with the following background on this guy. His father, John R. Agnew, worked in the OC prosecutor’s office before him. Agnew the son, was born in either 1943 or 44, and died on 2/20/2016, 40 years +1 day after Mark Stebbins’ death. Agnew was in Vietnam 64-66, went to UD for undergrad (finance), went to UD law school, was admitted in 1976, and started working in the OCPO. He formed his private practice in 1982 so he must have left the OCPO at that time. His practice was at 1207 S. Lafayette Ave, Royal Oak – a house his parents had and given or sold to him in 1965 when he was 21. It is a stone’s throw from Woodward, literally, with direct access to Woodward, and a block north of 10 Mile. It’s across from the Detroit Zoo.
His obit doesn’t mention any wives, ex wives, significant others, or children. https://www.legacy.com/us/obituaries/dailytribune/name/john-agnew-obituary?id=11846485. He was a lifelong member of the VFW, and he was a railroad buff. The NRHS logo on his shirt in his obit photo is of the Bluewater chapter of the National Railroad Historical Society.
Here’s a very chilling possibility, raised by the reader: “If what your commenter said is true, Agnew looks like a pretty good candidate as an insider with proclivities that would connect him with pedophiles and corrupt cops in the county. I recall that people have thought over the years that someone inside gave information to the outsiders, and to the author of at least one of the books, etc.”
Anybody out there have information about this possibility? Email me at OCCKtruth@protonmail.com.