The Rochester Hills Public Library welcomes journalist and author Marney Rich Keenan for an online discussion of her book, The Snow Killings: Inside the Oakland County Child Killer Investigation via Zoom on Tuesday, September 14, at 7:00 p.m., Eastern Standard Time.
The program is open to the public. Online registration is required, or call 248-656-2900.
Join the discussion about Marney Keenan’s book and what has happened in the 15 months since her book was published. As Marney says, truth dies in silence. If you think a case like this or the ensuing investigation can never happen again in Michigan, think again. The politicians in law enforcement hope you think it can never happen again.
Still think these men aren’t capable of living double lives? Here is a 61-year-old American Youth Soccer Organization coach and referee who was indicted on federal charges for producing, distributing and possessing child pornography. https://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2021/08/27/ayso-referee-coach-mark-oster-indicted-child-pornography-charges/. Evidence has been uncovered that he engaged in illegal conduct with minors. If found guilty of the pornography charges, he faces up to 100 years in prison. https://www.ocregister.com/2021/08/29/former-huntington-beach-youth-soccer-coach-indicted-on-federal-child-pornography-charges/.
It’s not like the old days, where if you engaged in these crimes you could just jet off to the Netherlands, continue to be a priest or state senator, art collector, philanthropist, team photographer, team doctor, architect, or high up at GM, without fear of reprisal. The old pedophiles club. One thing remains the same, however. These criminals do not “age out.” They keep it up until they die or get caught.
First, this letter from December 2010 concerning the FOIA response by the Michigan State Police (remember that litigation had to be filed to get these people to move on anything). The fee break down includes $1,399.38 for redacting tape. On Amazon, you can buy 4,200 inches worth of redacting tape for $24.57. That is 350 feet of cover-up. Apparently they wanted payment for more than 50 times this. While the MSP goes heavy on redaction, that strikes me as a bit much even for them. Many of the redactions were done with black magic marker and were therefore decipherable upon close examination. And the MSP clearly had not been schooled by Jessica Cooper’s office, who used “white out” on some of their redactions, so that it was almost impossible to see, let alone challenge, some of their redactions.
Next up, the November 1, 2011 response from the FBI concerning my dad’s attorney’s FOIA request on Francis Duffield Shelden. The request was denied because, believe it or not, “the facility where the records are stored suffered a catastrophic flood that temporarily prohibits access to these records.” And this happened less than two months prior to the FOIA request. While “[r]emediation is ongoing for records stored in this facility, . . . we are unable to determine if, or when, these records will be available for review.”
Finally, a summary my dad prepared a memo to document a meeting with two representatives of the Oakland County Sheriff’s office on August 29, 2012. The highlights are mine and I resisted the urge to heavily annotate it.
As you may recall, recently Sheriff Bouchard’s office recently responded to my FOIA request in a record-setting 15 minutes online by stating: “Your request for all records regarding the ‘Oakland County Child Killer’ investigation is denied; there are no records responsive to this request within the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office records. You may find the records you seek with the Michigan State Police.” https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/56938161/posts/3462468286
So that must mean one of three things. 1. The OCS office takes no notes and saves no emails in the OCCK case. 2. They destroy materials related to the OCCK case. 3. They hide the ball by immediately forwarding to the Michigan State Police every piece of paper, every email and every piece of information, keeping no record of the transfer of information.
You don’t need to apply for grants to figure out why the public doesn’t trust law enforcement. It’s because of shit like this and because 8 out of 10 times, you SUCK. You don’t need a sit-down with members of the community who have the time for such civic engagement to wage a public relations campaign. You already know you abuse your power and pull strings you know you shouldn’t. Use the money for transparency training, FOIA training (it does not involve hiding the ball), and for god’s sake, train even just one person in your agency to deal with child sexual abuse cases. Someone who knows why it takes someone a long time to come forward and how to explain the way the statute of limitations works now and why much older cases may be precluded. Someone smart who has some discretion and compassion. And while you are at it, figure out how to constructively deal with sexual violence, dating violence, domestic violence, stalking, racial profiling and police intimidation. Addressing any one of those issues would be a good use of grant money.
Eight out of 10 means there are some notable exceptions out there and I only hesitate to point them out today and express my gratitude because of possible retaliation or strong-arming from those who continue to abuse their power. I hope at some point soon the curtain is pulled back far enough so that it is safe for people to come forward with what they know and to publicly thank those who have their hearts and minds in the right place.
In May 2020 I posted a NYT article written by author Megan Abbott as part of The New York Times True Crime storytelling project. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/01/us/oakland-county-child-killer-detroit-true-crime.html (contains reader comments). Scanned version:
I took a screen shot of one of the reader comments because it really spoke to me. I found it on my phone last week and post it here, along with two other comments from NYT readers:
An analysis by The Buffalo News revealed that Child Victims Act lawsuits filed in western New York since 2019 alleged that 230 area Catholic priests molested children in nearly every parish in the Buffalo Diocese over the past 75 years. https://buffalonews.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/lawsuits-identify-230-priests-as-molesters-including-8-of-wnys-most-accused-abusers/article_847e4bee-050c-11ec-82e8-d38af1e219ea.html. “The numbers are a striking rebuke to Buffalo Diocese officials who for decades downplayed the extent of abuse in Western New York and protected molester priests from prosecution and public accountability.” The numbers are also probably an undercount because many victims of childhood sexual abuse are reluctant to come forward.
On August 14, 2021, the “look back” window in New York officially closed for adult survivors of sexual abuse to sue their abusers if they were previously barred from legal action due to the statute of limitations or failure to file a notice of claim. The 230 number is just a result of an analysis of lawsuits filed against priests during the look back window in one New York diocese.
The New York Child Victims Act was signed into law in 2019, giving victims of childhood sexual abuse more time to file both criminal and civil suits against alleged abusers and other parties they claim were complicit or involved in their abuse. The law eases the statute of limitations for civil lawsuits. Previously, victims were required to bring civil lawsuits regarding childhood sexual abuse forward by the age of 23, but now, they have until they turn 55 to file. Survivors also now have until the age of 28 to seek criminal charges against their abusers.
The No Time for Justice Act is proposed federal legislation designed to address the disparity in state laws and would provide federal incentives to states that end their statutes of limitations all together for criminal and civil cases of child sexual abuse. https://www.gillibrand.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/No Time Limit for Justice 1-pager – SR Edits.pdf; https://goldrushcam.com/sierrasuntimes/index.php/news/local-news/32508-u-s-senator-kirsten-gillibrand-and-representative-gwen-moore-announce-legislation-to-encourage-states-to-end-statute-of-limitations-for-child-sexual-abuse. Seven states, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming, have eliminated statutes of limitations for all felony sex crimes.
This legislative reform would level the playing field for victims and allow the public to identify child predators and the people and institutions that enable them. A 61-year-old victim of one of the New York priests said he filed a lawsuit because he wants the Catholic Church to “admit they knew what was going on and they kept it hidden for years.”
They kept it hidden as long as they could, but the arc of moral justice is finally, finally bending toward justice. In some places, that is.
A number of readers have sent me questions lately (lots of questions) and I want to point out that the best way to find something on my blog is to Google catherinebroad and [fill in the blank]. For example, if you Google catherinebroad and General Motors or GM, you will be directed not only to pages from my blog, but other relevant entries concerning, for example, H. Lee Busch, General Motors and the OCCK case, from other sources.
Hardworking volunteers are working on another website about this case which will be searchable. It is tedious work, and will contain thousands of searchable PDFs. This raw, searchable, browsable data base is in progress. Until then, you are stuck using a Google search to find what you are looking for on my blog. I should have done a better job tagging posts, but I didn’t.
If you can’t open a link to a news article (usually because you have used up your free article quota for that publication or it is “subscriber only”), just Google some of the relevant information and there may be another source you can access to get the gist. For example, if you can’t open a Detroit Free Press link about a pedophile priest, Google Gary Berthiaume and arraignment. No, I won’t scan the article and email it to you. And I won’t do your homework for you, either.
Please send emails concerning this case to OCCKtruth@protonmail.com. That is the only email address I will regularly check for correspondence concerning this case. Thanks.
On March 28, 2013, United States District Judge Denise Page Hood granted the defendants’ motions to dismiss the lawsuit Deborah Jarvis filed against Cooper, Walton, Bouchard, McCabe, O’Dell, Powell, Robertson and Oakland County and the state police. Judge Page Hood also denied Jarvis’ motion to dismiss and motion for equitable relief, thereby dismissing the lawsuit. https://casetext.com/case/jarvis-v-cooper.
The court found that Cooper and Walton were not entitled to absolute immunity. The court also found that the Oakland County Defendants, with the exception of Defendant Oakland County, and the Michigan State Defendants were entitled to qualified immunity. The court went on to explain that even if the Oakland County Defendants and the Michigan State Defendants were not entitled to immunity, the complaint failed to state a claim for relief. The court’s finding that of failure to state a claim meant the case could not survive a motion to dismiss.
No where does the court find that the filing was “frivolous” or “ludicrous,” nor were attorney fees imposed upon the plaintiff for such a filing. Interestingly, the court also stated:
I wonder where the court got the idea that Kym Worthy convened a one-man grand jury on July 15, 2011, at the request of Jessica Cooper?
It really helps to compare the actual court opinion to the media coverage of the suit dismissal to get an idea of how misrepresentations from the prosecutor’s office can color reporters’ and then the public’s perception of a lawsuit. See https://www.candgnews.com/news/judge-tosses-100-million-oakland-county-child-killer-case.
A full six months before the federal district judge issued her decision in the case, the smarmy OCP chief deputy Paul Walton filed an attorney grievance against Deborah Jarvis’ attorney, Paul Hughes. In this grievance, it appeared Walton was attempting to litigate issues that, if he was truly concerned, should have been presented to the federal district court; namely, filing a frivolous lawsuit and unfair pre-trial publicity.
Here is the response Mr. Hughes filed with the Michigan State Bar Attorney Grievance Commission (highlights and annotations are mine):
Would love to see that appendix Walton took the time to put together for this intimidation tactic disguised as an attorney grievance. But of course all that stuff is secret, just how the Grievance Commission likes it.
So the lesson is, don’t make a stink or you will end up before an Oakland County judge on fake charges of violating grand jury secrecy rules like Barry King, or answering a bogus grievance charge like Paul Hughes if you represent somebody making a stink, or maybe every male member of your family will get shaken down for DNA samples, with no explanation whatsoever. (Perhaps regarding a Y-str sample that still sits somewhere nine years later.) THAT’S how the game gets played in Oakland County.
I wonder how the Grievance Commission would react to a grievance concerning the thwarting of FOIA laws by offloading files to the Oakland County Sheriff’s office for “safe keeping”? Or the shredding of documents thought to be related to the OCCK case at the prosecutor’s office in the days after the general election last November? Ludicrous, isn’t it?
Before moving on to discuss the almost instinctual vindictive and punitive moves made against family members and an attorney representing one family in 2012 by then Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper, her Chief Deputy Paul Walton, and the Michigan State Police, when they felt they were losing control of the bullshit narrative in this case, consider these comments made by a reader in April 2020. I have posted this before, but thinking about some of the points “Bob” makes in his declaration, this is the root of the problem and the legacy of Oakland County. You might take issue with “Bob,” but this is a little tougher to argue with:
It should be understood there WAS a another cunning power broker working to manipulate outcomes at the time of the OCCK.
L. Brooks Patterson.
In November of 1975, the underground newspaper The Ann Arbor Sun published a well researched and very public take down of the then Oakland County Prosecutor. The article is titled “Naked Came the Prosecutor”. https://aadl.org/node/200230
Looking back over the decades, the opening line written by reporter Maureen McDonald rings like an urgent alarm on the disasters that lay ahead:
“The darling of the media and leading Young Republican protege, L. Brooks Patterson has parlayed the “evils” of welfare, parole, drunk-driving, drugs and “obscenity” into the most saleable political package the suburban county has ever seen. While Patterson gets great press for his attacks on people who are easily prosecuted and often can’t afford the cost of a trial lawyer. The SUN’s sources indicate that the charismatic young leader may be looking the other way on tougher challenges like organized crime and political corruption in his jurisdiction.”
2 months after this article ran, Mark Stebbins was murdered.
Patterson found his political voice in latching on to useful idiots he could play like a Stradivarius. In the early 1970’s he rose to prominence exploiting the racial tensions over things like busing and chasing down welfare cheats. He didn’t just play the race card, he spoiled the whole deck. He catered to that elite slice of Oakland County, the Bloomfield’s and the Cranbrook’s. The rounds of golf at Oakland Hills. The happy hours. Patterson was able to cultivate that cult of personality because of his hold on and ability to manipulate the Detroit media. Patterson would conduct a masterclass of beguiling reporters with his camera ready looks, couched in the style of a wise-cracking tough guy who wasn’t afraid of a microphone or television camera. Outside of reporters like Maureen McDonald, Patterson enjoyed a fawning media apparatus which in 1976 and 1977 essentially created a safe space for the prosecutor to operate well outside of conventional boundaries, including constitutional limits.
Patterson’s hands were ALL OVER the OCCK investigation.
Notably, Patterson was influential in allowing “psychic sleuth” Bruce Danto to “collaborate” with the task force, a colossal error which essentially ended all chances of solving the entire case. Patterson would even admit in the following years that the series of traffic stops initiated in ’77 on Squirrel Rd, set up under the direction of Bruce Danto’s “subliminal” messages to the killer in the hopes he would take the bait, were unconstitutional. He chuckled when relaying that tidbit, as if to suggest he couldn’t quite believe it himself.
It is important to note that during this time, instead of running his office as prosecutor, Patterson was running for higher office. He was barnstorming the state in 77 and 78 in an attempt to win the US Senate seat in Michigan. The only usefulness for Patterson in regards to the OCCK investigation was to perpetuate it, in order to affect more media attention. The goal wasn’t to catch the killer, the goal was to make everyone AFRAID of the killer, ostensibly so Patterson could swoop in and crack the case.
Until they didn’t.
When they found Busch dead after his “suicide” in 1978 you know that their blood ran cold. They had this guy. He had been on the radar the whole time. For crying out loud, Patterson’s #2 Dick Thompson went up to Flint in the middle of a blizzard to interview these guys.
While the scene at Morningside was a little “too” tidy with evidence screaming “I DID IT”, and certainly suggests something off and staged, the conspiracy starts to show some cracks because Patterson would not have missed an opportunity to crack the case and declare they that found the killer, GM and H. Lee Busch be damned. The problem was that Brooksy, Dick Thompson, Cabot and the MSP apparatus knew they missed the ball and a little boy was dead because of it. They covered it up to protect and maintain their own careers. If the truth had been exposed in 1978, L Brooks Patterson’s career, and that of a few others would have been demolished. Forget the Senate, forget running for Governor.
Who can orchestrate a cover up better than the man in charge of actually pressing the charges? Who requests the warrants? No evidence – no case. No killer – no problem.
“Maybe he’s dead” they said in ’78. “Maybe he’s locked up” It’s all just a bad dream. Have another drink. Go back to bed.
And how quickly the task force folded after Busch’s death.
After losing the Senate race in ’78, Patterson remained the county prosecutor, occasionally taking on cases himself, crusading against strip clubs and advocating for capital punishment. Hollow crusades only intended to placate the base. All while organized crime, child pornography rings and a child killing monster(s) were allowed to roam free.
Patterson has the dubious distinction of presiding over the county prosecutors office at a time where both the Jimmy Hoffa and the OCCK crimes occurred. While not necessarily connected, both have obvious ties to different layers of organized crime. Hoffa’s disappearance traded in the same currency as those with interested in profiteering from child pornography. And it was all going down in Oakland County. And L. Brooks chose to look the other way.
It wasn’t just Cass. It was Cass Lake. It was scumbags in suits trading kids like playing cards. And they had the freedom because they must have known on some level they were protected.
I too grew up in the middle of that invisible milieu, invisible right up until the bodies started piling up and fear leeched into the bedrooms and bus stops as children were bombarded with confusing and contradictory messages about strangers and trusting adults.
The corruption, or lack of will was already baked in.
Yes, this case stands as a textbook example of facts falling through the cracks because of infighting among different jurisdictions. Yes, all of this happens against the backdrop of the late 1970’s, an age where the detective work required to solve these crimes was still in its infancy. Multiple mistakes were made. There was a woeful lack of coordination and cooperation. from the start and continued for two years as the investigation unfolded. But Patterson was in that very unique position of one being able to disseminate evidence and information as he saw fit – always looking at how it would benefit him. No deals. Until there is a deal.
I was astonished to read that during that time Patterson refused to reach out to your family in person. It makes sense. While he might be able to help you, you couldn’t do anything for him. That, to Brooks Patterson, amounted to a waste of time. And four families suffered horriblly for it. An an entire generation of (then) children in Metro Detroit remain traumatized to this day.
Chillingly, shortly before his death, Patterson gave an interview in which he said his “biggest disappointment was that of the Oakland County Child Killer, was never identified.”
What a choice of words. He took his secrets to the grave, but subconsciously implicated himself in the process.
I will continue to follow this along with so many others. Thank you for the courage in sharing your family’s personal story.”
I am referring to the conduct of those charged with protecting society, not the Chris Buschs and Arch Sloans of the world.
Yesterday I posted the declaration of an anonymous source filed in support of a federal civil rights case by the mother of Kristine Mihelich. I started with this 2012 declaration because, as a reader pointed out, it is an excellent checklist of still unanswered questions in the OCCK case. It also names the names of some of the cast of characters who I believe are dirty in this and related cases. While I can see why a federal judge would not consider this declaration at all dispositive, it is a beautiful thing that this document is on file for posterity in a federal court docket. If you haven’t read it, go back and read it. Slowly. The entire thing. https://catherinebroad.blog/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Declaration-of-22Bob22-Anonymous-Source.pdf.
This is the complaint, filed in federal court in the Eastern District of Michigan in April 2012. The annotations are mine.
The court deep-sixed the case, but imagine if there had finally been a prosecutor in Oakland County with a spine and some integrity, who had turned this case over to the Department of Justice without a murdered child’s mother having to file a federal lawsuit? A prosecutor who wasn’t afraid of L. Brooks Patterson (or the ghost of), Mike Bouchard/Mike McCabe, or the goons at the Michigan State Police, and who refused to participate in the ass-covering and civil suit prevention that has been going on in OC since at least 1977. A prosecutor who told these criminal civil servants to fucking get in line instead of crossing the line.
More later on the bullshit grievance filed with the Michigan State Bar by Paul Walton against the plaintiff’s attorney in this case and press coverage of the case and the dismissal of the case.
“Defendants have either participated in one of the most incompetent investigation[s] ever to occur . . . or they have been involved in an ongoing cover up and /or conspiracy that has continued to this date.”Posted: August 20, 2021
My money is on door #2.
If you follow this case, you probably recall the civil rights lawsuit filed in April 2012 in federal court on behalf of Debbie Jarvis, mother of the third known victim of the OCCK, Kristine Mihelich. The lawsuit was based in part on the information provided by an anonymous source called “Bob.” You may have read news outlets’ summaries and characterization of the information provided by “Bob,” or listened to or read the lies and distortions from two fuming defendants, then Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper and Chief Deputy Paul Walton.
Read the “Declaration of ‘Bob’ Anonymous Source” for yourself. It is quite conclusory, but if after considering it, you still feel confident that the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office, the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office and the Michigan State Police are above board, congratulations, you have some amazing blinders.
More on this lawsuit, the news coverage and the grievance Mr. Filled With Outrage filed against the plaintiff’s attorney in this case to follow. (I’ll give you some outrage, pal.)