Now go get some fresh air. And take a shower.
Cathy, This so cool you got this but there is so much to go thru. Some of us including myself gets overwhelmed quite easily. Since you’ve been thru this quite thoroughly, can I ask if there is anything on the ‘Mystery Woman’ that had a composite sketch done on her that was with McKinney at a restaurant the night before his murder? Was wondering if there is anymore in these docs than what was already known in the newspapers. Perhaps who they thought it might be? Helen had her own theory on who that might have been but she could never prove it although she tried contacting different people about it.
I, police spend much time investigating who this “mystery woman” was. People come forward with ideas of who the woman could be, based on the composite drawing that was publicized. Police seem to hunt down every lead on this drawing. The come up with nothing. The fact that this woman never came forward speaks pretty heavily to her involvement in reeling in McKinney. The contrary argument is that she was yet another mistress or someone who sold her services and would have every reason not to want to get involved.
I direct you to pages 294-99 of Portraits in the Snow. McKinney’s gallery was not open on Mondays, but the author of Portraits makes a pretty convincing case that McKinney certainly would have made time for dinner with a patron of a Cigler piece. Described in police reports as “two pieces of cloth” found in the middle of McKinney’s desk, they were batiks signed Cigler 77. The piece(s) had not been logged into McKinney’s project files, as was his practice. Although none of the “art people” police speak with recognize this artist, as the Portraits author describes, Cigler was a contemporary artist with an international reputation in the 1970s. P. 295. From the book: “Lilly thought it was a sure bet that a lovely lady bearing a batik with this artist’s name would have gotten McKinney’s attention and allowed for a private meeting to discuss its framing.” P. 297. After dinner and back at the gallery, it would have been easy enough for her to have her associate(s) join them at the gallery.
Page 299: “A small number of highly connected people with a hell of a lot to hide, silently using a number of people to cover their own backsides; was why so many bodies piled up, over so many years and so many people (without realizing it), looked the other way from all of the evidence staring them in their faces. . . . That was not to say that the current authorities hadn’t finally figured out what seemed so obvious and were covering the cover-ups.”
Dennis Cigler was a Wisconsin-born artist who had been living in Rome since about 1970. In the spring of 1977 he came to Detroit to successfully negotiate a contract with the Michigan Opera Theatre to provide batiks in its production of “The Pearl Fishers” which was scheduled for the following fall. In an interview with a Wisconsin newspaper, he stated that his batiks were selling for $400–for someone like McKinney, who seemed to be struggling with money and commissions, two batiks would certainly enhance his inventory. By the way, Cigler died last year after a very distinguished career–his batiks today are worth considerably more than $400!
In “portraits in the snow”, Lilly talks about an attractive couple that owned a gallery in Birmingham that were “special trade” for the sex workers in Cass Corridor. The wife like to be tied up and spanked, and the husband liked to be penetrated with a large purple dildo…. Maybe chapter 3. Any ideas on who this couple is? My mind goes to John McKinney and Linda Webster, Doug Webster and Linda Webster, but there were other galleries. Did Lilly ever elaborate on that detail?
Not to me.
Hi Catherine. I imagine this is already on your radar, but thought it was a good time to mention that Everell Fisher Jr. was among those in the Birmingham artist community. Fisher Interiors was on Old Woodward around this same time. I don’t know the exact dates of Ev’s business but I think it’s very telling that his name is never mentioned in any of the FOIA documents.
Yes, yes, yes! I thought that while reading and did not circle back. And Fisher was credibly accused of “hanging out” with Chris Busch and was a pedophile. And Jack Faxon was an “art guy” who liked the B’ham scene, too. Yes, very telling that nobody mentions Everell Fisher, Jr. But other names I expected to see aren’t there, either. THANK YOU.
A reader emailed me this excellent observation: “This dude opens yet another passageway into the abyss. Jesus, what were these fuckers up to?” And I would also ask, why was none of it unearthed and why, 45 years, multiple murders, and god knows how much money later, are police still able to say “um, not sure if any of these killings–any of them–are connected”?
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