FOIA puzzle pieces

FOIA responses, especially in this case, are very interesting not only for the content, but also for what is withheld, what the agency tells you (or neglects to mention) is being withheld, what is redacted, how it is redacted (sneaky white out redactions of signatures and dates, for example), as well as the intentionally disorganized order designed to look like just a typical, haphazard document drop.

Recall two things about the FOIA responses over the years by the Oakland County Prosecutor’s office. First, Jessica Cooper would not respond to my dad’s FOIA requests concerning suspects Chris Busch and Greg Greene. She got one of her judge buddies in Oakland County to buy off on her “active investigation exception” horseshit and the case wound its way through the Michigan appellate system ($$). Never mind that Chris Busch and Greg Greene were long dead and that she herself maintained they were not suspects in the killings. Never mind that the Michigan State Police, who initially forced a lawsuit in response to my dad’s FOIA request, did not pursue the case and handed over documents they had on Busch and Greene (as illegally redacted as they were, and without the required explanations of the basis for withholding documents).

Cooper later provided a couple of hundred pages of OCCK documents to WDIV reporter Kevin Dietz in June 2012 and then to Detroit Free Press staff writer Lori Brasier in October 2012. Therefore, she had to provide those documents, previously denied through extended litigation, to my dad. I have posted them on my blog.

Second, I filed a FOIA request earlier this year with the current Oakland County Prosecutor’s office for all files in the OCCK case. I also posted those documents–what was left after Cooper left office and this is what was kept at the office of Oakland County Sheriff’s office for “safekeeping” for over a decade.

I was recently looking through the FOIA response from the current Oakland County Prosecutor’s office to take another look at information on suspect Paul David Johnson, another “esteemed” and mentally ill attendee of Brother Rice High School in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, around the same time as John Hastings. The information about Johnson was disturbing for a few reasons, as two readers observed.

  1. What Johnson relayed to an investigator (I think an Oakland County Sheriff deputy) about what my brother Tim allegedly said to him was compelling.
  2. Johnson’s father, when questioned about the possibility of his son’s involvement, was uncooperative and he responded: “Prove it.” Hmm, where have we heard that before? That was the line used by John Hasting’s sister Mary. Not–“he would never be involved in something like that!,” but “prove it.” (We hear you loud and clear, freaks.)
  3. I don’t know if this information on Johnson, documented in the OCP files that had been kept (hidden) at the offices of Sheriff Mike Bouchard for almost a decade to avoid any further FOIA requests, was ever shared with the current investigators. On the basis of that file information, he should supply a DNA sample.

While going through these documents again (the most recent FOIA response from the prosecutor’s office), I came across a four-page property receipt concerning the property seized at the arrest of Chris Busch in Alma, MI, on January 28, 1977. This property receipt was not in the stack of documents Jessica Cooper provided reporters in response to FOIA requests for “A copy of the Christopher Busch CSC file that we reviewed in your office on Monday June 18 2012,” or the much more broadly worded “all documents related to the Oakland County Child Killer investigation, except those specifically exempted by FOIA.”

To be clear, this property receipt was in the 2022 FOIA response, from the files that had been offloaded to and then retrieved from the sheriff’s office (you know, the office that responded to my FOIA request that they do not have a single document in this case and to contact the MSP). While I spend some more time on Mr. Paul David Johnson, I wanted to highlight this property receipt.

The evidence was received at Flint PD by Larry Afford, from Officer Tom Waldron on 1-28-77 at 8 pm, following a search of Chris Busch’s home in Alma when he was arrested for criminal sexual conduct with a minor. That same date the evidence was released to Lourn A. Doan, Southfield PD.

On November 28, 1977, the evidence was released to FBI Special Agent Gordon M. Neilsen (Flint office).

Also on November 28, 1977, there is a stamp stating that property was “RLSD [released] TO OWNER.”

A March 8, 1978 entry states that Items 3 (a)-(g) from the “large gray suit case” were “confiscate”[d], although it would appear based on the contents of that suitcase as described, those would have been more innocuous personal items that would have possibly been released to the owner. Surely Chris Busch wanted to finish reading or rereading “Something Happened,” the 1974 book by Joseph Heller.

Although there is no indication in the log that the FBI ever returned or “checked in” the evidence it took on November 28, 1977, a file stamp indicates this property was all destroyed on April 26, 1978. One thing you can count on–if the FBI retained any of this evidence, it was no doubt damaged beyond recognition in a flood.

Although that list of evidence is pretty appalling, on the face of it, it does not reflect that “the gray suitcase . . . contained numerous sexual paraphernalia that related to sexual relations with young boys,” and “[a]pproximately 115 different sexually related books, magazines, films, etc.” No, for that information you would have to cross-reference the case history report prepared by Flint PD Officer Waldron, which I found in the batch of FOIA documents Cooper released to reporters in 2012. The batch that does not contain the property receipt. (And likewise, the 2022 batch does not contain Waldron’s case history.)

The highlights and red pencil are mine. The heavy marker and the pen/pencil underlines were on the document as received.

This report is very interesting. It, unlike the property receipt, specifically states that some of the confiscated evidence involved sex with young boys. The report does not mention that Oakland County Chief Deputy Richard Thompson was present at Flint PD during the time Chris Busch was being interviewed and then polygraphed on January 28. No, we rely on the file reports of Southfield Detective Lourn Doan for that information. Maybe Genesee County Assistant Prosecutor Ward Chapman prevailed on Waldron to omit that little tidbit, figuring Busch was Oakland County’s “problem.”

The report also establishes that as of January 28, 1977, police knew Busch was driving a blue Vega with a white stripe on the side. That may be why old Richard Thompson loved “the blue Gremlin” tip so much. Yet no one thought to check in on a known child rapist driving a car that looks very much like a blue Gremlin with a white hockey stripe, who lived less than three miles from my brother’s abduction site during the week my brother was missing.

The report further documents that Chris Busch waived his right to have an attorney present. It also establishes, contrary to other bullshit Busch told Montmorency cops, that he had been involved with young boys since “approximately age 12,” not beginning at age 17 at his elite boarding school. He also tells police he was a member of Big Brothers and he “also had been involved in sexual acts with some of his Little Brothers.” Waldron writes that “Christopher Busch also related other information regarding his activities with young children in the Detroit and Alma areas.”

Despite this information, and despite “NO DEALS” Thompson and Patterson, they “nolle prossed” Chris Busch the summer of 1977 for the CSC described in this report and never considered any of Busch’s other crimes.

Nolle Prosequi–Latin for “not to wish to prosecute.” So, as a reader pointed out to me, Chris Busch’s attorney, Jane Burgess, was not some fucking hot shot criminal defense attorney. The Oakland County Prosecutor’s office held the door open for Chris Busch as he skated away, so a telephone pole could have represented him just as well. How’s that for NO DEALS? I guess no deals for drug offenses, just for raping kids. That was life north of 8 Mile.