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.

21 thoughts on “FOIA puzzle pieces”

  1. I see a lot of similarities between Johnson and Haystack. (1) both recluses. (2) both went to Brother Rice. (3) both attended OAKLAND COMMUNITY COLLEGE. (4) both unstable. (5) both clean cut for 1970’s standards . Finally , both matched the composites from Hunter Maple better and more accurate than any other suspect. That’s just my own opinion.

    Our family friend “ Johnny Taylor” was the detective that investigated and interrogated Paul Johnson. He was very adamant that Johnson was the killer. He told the family much detail about this guy. He never gave us a name, but I’ll never forget him telling the family that he was institutionalized after the murders. Unfortunately Johnny passed a number of years ago . I wish as an adult I could have talked to him about Mr.Johnson. As intriguing as Johnson is as a prime suspect, I STILL consider Haystack as suspect #1. I can’t get past the failed polygraph. That has yet to be addressed. Oh I forgot about one last similarity between the two. THEY ARE BOTH STILL WALKING THE EARTH.

  2. Cathy, Do you have a picture of Paul David Johnson? He was 21 years old in 1977 and 6 years younger than Hastings. Johnson attended Brother Rice but did not graduate from there.

    1. Johnson sure does resemble that composite sketch. It does add more “cluster” because PJ scrapped the Tempest right before the TK abduction. (Very eerie that PJ says he played at the same park TK played because according to Judi C. a car was cruising the park 3/16/77)
      Doug Wilson’s statement describes an older full faced older man in a blue GM model car, DW’s statement says the guy talking to TK was wearing a ball cap, no other witness provided that detail and that’s a pretty obvious detail to miss.
      Then you have the Patrick Coffey information regarding:CB.
      So many avenues and no final destination.

      1. So very true. You describe it correctly, “cluster”. So many avenues to investigate, and connections to follow-up with. Then you have to separate the lies from the truth. So much circumstantial evidence and many coincidences. Which do you believe? Just keep track of it, and hope another piece of information eliminates or confirms an observation.

        Regardless, of which suspect you pursue, law enforcement (OCP, MSP, FBI) is then working against you. They almost got away with it too, had it not been for Patrick Coffey and Cory Williams (and of course the King family & Marney).

        It amazes me how many people in the 4 communities (peers and parents) do not know any of the information Patrick and Cory helped uncover, and that more was being discovered as late as 2019 (and maybe today). And when they are told of the complexities, and the involvement of some highly place people, they don’t seem to want to hear it.

  3. A lot of familiarities between Haystack and Johnson. Both recluses. Both went to Brother Rice. Both fit the composites from Hunter Maple better than any other of the suspects. That’s my opinion.

    Our family friend detective “ Johnny Taylor” was pretty adamant about Johnson being the killer. I’ll never forget him telling us that the killer was in Clinton Valley at around 1983. He said the mother worked at Beaumont hospital. He never gave us a name and with this information , I always thought he was referring to Haystack. I still feel Hastings is priority #1 considering that failed polygraph has yet to be addressed. Oh and the biggest similarity between the two is that THEY ARE BOTH STILL ALIVE

    1. Good point about Clinton Valley, and Johnson. I thought I read that JH was institutionalized. Maybe somewhere in Northville. I have to wonder if this is another connection somehow where they may have crossed paths.

      Johnson went to Holy Name Elementary. Not sure where JH went.

      1. John Hastings went to Holy Name, as well but he’s six years older than Paul Johnson. Hastings sister worked at Northville Psychiatric, but I don’t think John was institutionalized there. He possible could have been a patient at the Ardmore Center on Farmington rd. in Livonia ( no longer there).

        1. Thanks. I figured he may have attended Holy Name as well (but many years earlier). Looks like possibly 5 years earlier (DOB: 12/31/ 1954 & 10/11/1949).

          I also thought it was Ardmore. Seem to remember an Ardmore Hospital on 9 Mile in Ferndale as well that closed around 1977. Just too many things in common.

    2. One more thing about Johnson — he drove a mid ‘60’s blue Pontiac Tempest that he junked rather abruptly…

  4. Not to beat a dead horse, although I would still beat on a dead pedophile, we need to look at what makes the OCCK case different than the way other similar cases were handled in the 1970’s / 80’s era. It is a factor of ONE.

    MONEY; Despite all the local, State, and Federal resources put into the case, it could not, or did not match the Detroit area money and connections already in place by H. Lee Busch and others high up on society. They were the presumed cover for son Chris Busch and others believing the case would just fade away. However, in the minds of good people, it never has. Let’s face it. We know some of the WHO. We know the WHEN. We know WHERE it all happened. We know WHAT they did. The only thing left is the WHY it was not solved despite all this being in the hands of law enforcement as far back as the supposed Busche suicide scene. The one factor that made these perpetrators in a category of their own is that they were backed by high society corrupting money. They were denied equal protection under the law (a civil rights violation) due to that corrupting influence. All that remains for those both dead and alive that we can carry out is to Name Them and Shame Them for who and what they are / were.

    I was amazed years ago to learn from Mr. King that Michigan never has had the death penalty for murder or other heinous crimes, but I can’t think of anyone who deserved it more than Chris Busch and associates in all the harm they did while living in the area. All in all, we need to establish a sort of Leaper colony for all pedophiles and put them away never to be seen again from any child’s eyes. Otherwise, old fashioned guys like Me would just like to shoot them as their just deserts.

  5. Hi Patrick, no one deserved to die more than Chris Busch and whoever killed him did society a great service. He was a well-funded, ticking time bomb of a monster. I believe his own father played a large part in not only the cover up, but the growth of this monster. Family, neighbors, police, and the few friends he had who weren’t criminals all looked the other way. Came from a high-rent neighborhood; he can’t be that bad, right?!

    People like Larry Wasser and a few cops who knew (I maintain he did in fact get dimed after his private polygraph) want streets named after them, a thank you, a pat on the back; they sleep well at night, thank you very much. But it is of little solace to me. The killings stopped, but they could have been stopped the last week of January 1977 when Busch was under the microscope of Flint PD, numerous Oakland County police, members of the MSP, Richard Thompson and L. Brooks Patterson. And they all got to keep it secret. Nobody questions a superior, right? Because they “know what’s best” for society, right? Those who played ball had to have a sinking feeling that one day this shit would bubble to the surface and revictimize the families. And it did.

    There was a big network of pedophiles in Southeastern Michigan, and right in Oakland County, MI, too. Those living all deserve to die, exposed and alone. But that’s not how it works for these men. They were in fact protected. $$$$$. Those who enabled are no better. I would rather have the cashier at my gas station make a decision about my life than the people in law enforcement and the legal system in Oakland County. They had no right to take the law into their own hands and to slam the lid down on Pandora’s Box. They protected THEMSELVES.

    I remarked to Marney Keenan that the inaction in this case after her book was published–nobody looked at pedophile cop Richard McNamee, nobody took seriously the victims of the pedophile sex rings operating at Ground Zero during the era of the OCCK crimes who came forward, the OCP and the Michigan AG ghosted us–should have been no surprise. If you go back to the fall of 2007, when Wayne County was trying to get Larry Wasser to do the right thing and you realize how the Oakland County machine was able to massage that lead into oblivion (it took some time, but they knew it would die down eventually), how that incredible information was neutralized and how the county and its inhabitants basically didn’t give a shit, it is no surprise.

    As I was going through the FOIA responses from the OCP this past week, I came upon and reread the transcript of the November 30, 2007 interview of Larry Wasser by Garry Gray (pathetic interviewer) and Cory Williams (nails it with far fewer words). It is on my blog, but I will repost it as a stand-alone. Although I wrote some very ugly things in the margins of that document, the thing speaks for itself. To anyone but an “anyone but Busch and Greene” or a Larry Wasser Koolaid-drinker, it is so obvious to me that he is twisting the truth, stupidly spilling the beans and outright lying. No wonder his attorney did everything he could to keep him off the stand.

    It’s funny when you reread these documents. There was just so much there. A civilian, a victim’s family member, should not have to read this shit. But there it is. The guy claims not to remember things like Chris Busch’s name, but remembers who he told about “this kook” (Busch). Two other polygraphers. So he did get this guy dimed, although he will deny it until the day he gets to take his eternal dirt nap.

    The funny part is that this 45-page transcript came courtesy of his old pal, Jessica Cooper, who included it in FOIA documents she sent to two different press outlets in 2012. No redactions. And then she had to provide it to my dad. I will leave it to readers to judge whether the attorney-client privilege was breached in 1977, long before he broke it when he spoke with you in Las Vegas in 2006. I think telling two outside polygraphers about “this guy” back in 1977 qualifies as a pretty big breach.

    I keep drifting from Occam’s Razor. It’s hard not to, given that over 45 years there have been so many rabbit holes and no conclusions. How hard must L. Brooks Patterson have laughed over the suspect stew that followed the little Busch and Greene (and Gunnels!) kurfuffle? After 45 years, and millions of dollars, investigators still can’t really say whether all four kids were murdered by the same people. Or even admit that these were what is known as “team killings.” The costs, literal and figurative, are all a result of how Oakland County decided to handle this investigation. They couldn’t have handed it off to a better black hole than the MSP. In the end, this protected H. Lee Busch, Chris Busch (for a time), L. Brooks Patterson, and Richard Thompson. Neither the OCP nor the MSP have ever had to account for this massive failure under their watch. It damaged literally everyone else even remotely associated with this case. But not them.

    I will post the transcript tomorrow. Can’t stomach looking at it again tonight.

    And yes, Patrick, all that’s left is Name and Shame. But that’s how we try to keep this from ever happening again. The average citizen can’t wrap their brain around any of it. That’s how the cycle can repeat, with prosecutors who play hide the ball, cops who answer to no one, and monied criminals covering their cowardly asses. Oakland County was the perfect child-killer storm.

  6. I wish the victims/families of Busch and all those pedophiles (and possible murderers) that were let off the hook could file a giant class-action lawsuit against Oakland County/MSP/FBI. I will add California to that too for them setting Greene free as well. In general, if there were actually financial consequences to offset the money that the rich and powerful provide, maybe justice could actually be served as it should.

  7. As the rich and powerful indeed covered for Busch and perhaps Sheldon, there are still a couple of scum bags that still walk the streets of Doreville Georgia and Troy Michigan. Granted one day they indeed will meet their maker, I still have a granite of hope that nuclear DNA might possibly shine some light on this. I can’t help thinking about the words out of Mary Hastings and Johnson’s fathers mouth when pertained to their being questioned “ prove it”. Not hey my brother would never in a million years hurt a child. No my son Paul is a pillar of of sunshine to his community. Nah it’s hey prove it. Mary Mary quite contrary your fat ass will one day answer to the maker.

    1. Another one bites the dust and another ones gone. Well that leaves 3 left that know something regarding the case. Sloan, Gunnels and Haystack. What a shame the powers at be just want to let it be. Nessel, Mcdonald come on. Democrats are supposed to have hearts. I seriously thought Dana would have gotten involved. She sure was willing to lend it with the Oxford situation

      1. Jessica Cooper was a Democrat- both sides have been terrible in this case. Greed and Power trumps all!

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