The murder of Birmingham art gallery owner John McKinney, 45 years ago this month

On Tuesday, September 20, 1977, the Birmingham Police Department received a routine call from the fire department for assistance on a first-aid run at the Birmingham Art Gallery at 1025 Haynes Street. The owner of the gallery, John McKinney, was found murdered on the first floor of the gallery. He had been beaten and shot in the head. The gallery was closed on Mondays and the murder was thought to have taken place between 6 and 9 pm on Monday the 19th, 45 years ago. The murder remains unsolved.

Preliminary to taking a closer look at this homicide, which took place six months after my brother Tim’s murder, consider these awesome entries from another blogger:

In addition to an entry on McKinney, this is the bottom line on the OCCK case:

The Oakland County Child Killer (OCCK) case. An old cold case that took place around Detroit, Michigan back in the ’70s. It involved 4 children . This case is constantly covered up, obfuscated and misdirected by the authorities. Once this case is cracked and the truth is out there is an opportunity for the US to clean up its garbage. You will learn our country is NOT what it says it is.

Wilson’s Words and Pictures

More on McKinney’s murder during a wave of unsolved murders in Oakland County: (Don’t Talk to Strangers podcast).

And of course the 2011 book Portraits in the Snow: The Oakland County Child Killings . . . Scandals and Small Conspiracies, M. F. Cribari (Outskirts Press, Inc. 2011),

I had left for college when McKinney was murdered. I asked one of my brothers yet again if anyone from law enforcement ever asked my family if any of them knew, recognized or had heard of John McKinney. He said no, never. Police were apparently unaware (as were we) that our neighbors, the Coffeys, were art collectors and apparently investors in McKinney’s gallery and that they were friends with McKinney, who was often at their house for dinner. Tim was very often across the street at the Coffey house as well, where his good friend lived.

You would think that somebody would have thought to ask the families of the OCCK victims if they knew McKinney. Or Busch. Or Flynn. Or Hojnacki. Or Hastings. Or Johnson. Or even checked the photographs of those who attended the funerals to see if these people showed up at any of the services. Over the years my dad was asked every few years about numerous priests, living and dead. But never these homegrown Oakland County men. You would also think that before a blanket announcement was made in the press, very early after McKinney’s murder, that he was in no way connected to the child killings, that somebody would have thought to run his name and photo by our family. But you would be wrong.

6 Comments on “The murder of Birmingham art gallery owner John McKinney, 45 years ago this month”

  1. Joe says:

    Both John “I do More Than Art” Mc Kinney and Chris ” Fat Boy” Busch were killed with a 22 rim fire; the preferred caliber of professional hit men.

  2. Paul Jolliffe says:

    Cathy addressed the (very legitimate) suspicions of McKinney in her post of January 20, 2021 “Does Anyone Out There Have A Conscience?”

    She posted Bruce Danto’s letter in which an art teacher at Groves strongly suspected that McKinney had something to do with OCCK. (The art teacher had been interviewed by the Birmingham P.D., but had deliberately withheld key information.)

    Permit me to repost my comment from that thread:

    We can see from Bruce Danto’s letter on Sept. 22 that he found the Groves art teacher’s suspicions about McKinney and the OCCK case compelling.

    So, we now know that within 48 hours of McKinney’s murder, the task force received a tip from a credible source about him, yet no public identification of him as a suspect would emerge for decades. If, as Cathy has written, one of the Coffey children named McKinney as a suspect before then, then that means the task force had his name when he was still alive for questioning.

    Also, if this anonymous poster (“Olivia Guest”) on Helen Dagner’s board from 2020 was correct (“A Birmingham police officer told my Attorney friend that they killed John McKinney. The Birmingham cops knew he would never be sent to prison so they tried to get him to confess with a beating. When he refused they shot him”), then McKinney really was questioned, identified as a connection to the ring, and murdered.

    I think the old “negative template” is useful here: if the obvious questions are NOT asked, it’s because the answers would provide a hot lead.

    You and your family were not asked about McKinney in any way because on some level, he was connected to the OCCK ring, somehow.

  3. mac says:

    It’s astonishing how big the web of suspicious individuals is, and all the coincidences hiding in plain sight.

    I think understanding the cases of those who were “suicided” (Busch of course, and then McKinney… as well as Flynn and Hojnacki but their background/connection appears much less clear) is key to unraveling the truth. Aside from Busch, I don’t believe any of these men appear much in the vast FOIA documentation?

    It seems that the police were sloppy and incompetent, let obviously dangerous and evil men (e.g., Busch) free, and at some point realized the awful consequences of their incompetence/idiocy/disregard. Then, suspects were “suicided” and the police suddenly became very disinterested in solving this case. It’s all very bizarre.

  4. brian says:

    The file you posted, which was compiled by the Detroit Police, is a gold mine.

    I’ve been researching it for several months now. I would say that Wayne Forest West is a key connecting figure. I would venture that the Stygian and Babylon grottos (Ohio and Michigan respectively) are crucial, as well as their dissolution because of renegade leaders like West.

    I was surprised to see the name Michael Aquino mentioned in this file – a good ten years before the Presidio Daycare case – not because I wouldn’t expect his name to be involved (I wouldn’t NOT expect it to be) but because I’ve never heard this mentioned.

    I think it’s in this direction – the information in this file and related historical information – that one can better understand in what way Busch and Greene – and possibly even McKinney and Hastings – might have been “associates”. And it makes perfect sense it wasn’t incorporated into any OCCK leads and remained separate, to the extent it seems at this point to have very little to do with anything. It’s also in this direction, I suspect, that one might begin to understand some of the contours of McKinney’s “other” darker life, mentioned cryptically in the press.

    When West was excommunicated from the grotto and the Church of Satan at large, a vacuum opened. This split was in the early mid 70s – at which point the Babylon grotto was disbanded. The grotto was not reconstituted. West had a history, according to the police file and those who knew him, of pedophilia, as well as a background in British intelligence and a deep interest in Chaldean and Egyptian magic: He himself chose the name Babylon for obvious reasons. He lived with his sister in Oakland County, where she ran a beauty school, though they went by separate last names because, in part, he used a pseudonym.

    Aquino gives accounts of the Babylon Grotto and Forrest’s expulsion in books he wrote, mentioning many of the key figures the Detroit Police spoke to. The members ran the gamut, from biker gangs to criminal elements to upper crust. Notably, in correspondence with members of his church, Anton Lavey mentioned on several occasions that the church had well placed members on many police forces and in government agencies. He also mentioned that many members preferred not to be known by their names, because of their places in society.

    In case you believe Lavey was mostly a tongue in cheek, harmless huckster, look up the FBI file from an investigation into a little known assassination plot against Ted Kennedy in the 80s, led by Lavey and various criminal consorts. This file was released in one of the more recent data dumps.

    In case you think church members were joking when they said those who revealed secrets would be punished, read about the naked man police found ritually murdered in Detroit around the time of OCCK or soon before.

    In 1975, Aquino left the church and started the Temple of Set (again, Egyptian cosmogony). Many of the church members, like Bryant himself, were former or current clergy. Aquino was not. He was military intelligence, where he specialized in psy-ops he called MindWar. MindWar involved a lot of Danto-like misdirection. If you had never heard of Danto – if he’d never existed – you would picture something like him and his media campaigns when reading Aquino’s descriptions of MindWar, both for the military and the Temple of Set congregation.

    I believe that Richards was a magician in the Chaldean sense of the word, not along the lines of dinner theater magic. Magic not as in rabbits in hats but mesmerism. This might seem hard to believe with someone like Richards – until you remind yourself his principal subjects were children.

    It’s also interesting to consider Hiram Bey in relation to all this, as well as in relation to Richard’s diagram, with all of its ancient symbols and names – all connected to Magic. Bey was a proponent of Discordianism, a philosophy much similar to the tenets of MindWar. Dsytopianism had its own program, called Mind F*ck. It’s patron goddess was Eris, goddess of chaos. Bey is still revered as an influential voice for anarchy, which is its own version of chaos.

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