Crime Scene Footage from Children of the Snow

From a Reader

Hi Cathy;

I’ve experienced a rather perplexing thing while watching Children of the Snow. I thought I saw a body in the one scene but when I watch it again a week later, it disappeared. It looked like someone blurred that area out My mind started playing tricks on me. I thought for a while that the documentary was being changed on newer versions. Well I finally traced it down and had someone screen capture the video at different places and sure enough it look like what I thought I saw. Or is it? Here’s two snap shots from each episode and leave it to your readers to decide.

(2 images attached)

Preserve, Protect and Defend. Depending on who you are.

These pages are from a book documenting the history of the Michigan State Police from its inception to 2002. It purports to be a “warts and all” documentation. Here are some passages I found relevant to an examination of MSP history and the treatment of the OCCK case compared to others handled by the MSP. See if you agree with that “warts and all” description:


Social Media and Cold Case Documentaries

The article I posted a link to in my last post alludes to but does not directly address social media in cold cases. In another “coincidence” I received a Google alert about that article yesterday just as I sat down to look through old posts from various cold case and other forums, trying to find a link to a POS who has threatened people over the years related to this case. This man posted under a variety of names in various places over about a decade of online discussion about this case. I have no doubt he reads my blog. And there are others who clearly posted under various names (writing style stays consistent, despite your best efforts) and who continue to on this blog. Topix was the main site where there were no rules and clearly there were participants who seemed concerned about their status as an accessory or an obstructor of justice in this and other cases involving the rape and abuse and murder of children.

But there were many other places where people commented online about these cases. Helen Dagner’s various websites, John Douglas MindHunter Forums, Cold Serial, Click On Detroit (“How has the Oakland County Child Killer Case Impacted Your Life?”(2006)), Gary, Hitch Hiker’s Guide to Reality, The Girl from the Ghetto, The Lisa Life, just to name a few. These sites go back over a decade ago. And of course there is a Facebook page about this case. J. Reuben Appelman’s book, The Kill Jar, and the subsequent documentary Children of the Snow, shook some branches in this ancient cold case.

What’s so interesting about the digital age and about the fact that we have obtained so many FOIA documents in this case, is that it will be relatively easy to do a post-mortem (if you will) on this investigation. Where the ball got dropped. Who went to police and was ignored and forcefully blown off. Who got special dispensation because of their lot in life. Who died after this information should have been acted on. Maybe even who decided to shut this thing down and spend more energy squelching inquiry than finding some sense of justice for the child victims. And let’s not forget, law enforcement has not asked for the public’s help in this case–until they were basically forced to by providing a tip line phone number at the conclusion of Children of the Snow and the series produced locally by WDIV. A tip line that goes to–you guessed it–the Michigan State Police. If the case never gets solved, we can’t go back and evaluate how this happened and how to prevent it in the future. Pretty obvious.

I have asked–begged–law enforcement for a long time to get out ahead of what might be a serious implosion of their ribbon-tied, no conclusions, just more questions, investigation. The fact that they won’t do it is not just bad news–it is starting to border on bad faith. We had enough of that back in the day. You either rise above it, or get tarnished with it. I am still so pissed off about that 11 million number on the DNA noted in my last post. That can be winnowed down significantly as I described. You have the mtDNA sequence from those hairs. DO YOUR JOB and outsource what needs to be outsourced. It is so obvious what is going on here. Obvious and unconscionable at many levels. Yet there is no accounting, no explanation.

While searching for old posts I found this 2009 posting on Delayed Justice. In this writing, the author describes meeting with two newspaper writers and discussing the OCCK case. His post includes a 1997 article written by Pat Shellenbarger in The Grand Rapids Press. If you know even a little about this case I think you will find it fascinating on many levels. The article notes that a made-for-TV movie script was based on the killings, but ABC rejected it because it was “too chilling.” Try living it. It also notes that a book on the case back then “didn’t sell well” because “there’s no ending.” I wonder who kept it that way? And why people back then didn’t realize the reason there is no ending is in many ways THE story?

Check it out (the relevant discussion begins on page 2, followed by the news article):


Technology and social media turn solve rate in cold cases–just not this one.

As we have discussed before, and as law enforcement knows because I sent this information to them, that number can come down a lot off of 11 million:

To solve the Bear Brook (New Hampshire) murders, NH State Police sent hair fragments, that’s fragments, hair pieces without a root to a lab for testing. They used Bode Cellmark Forensics. This lab, using hair fragments, was able to obtain GED Match quality DNA results, which allowed the victims in the Bear Brook case, kept in barrels over a 35-45 year period, to be identified.

As described in this abstract, there is now an enhanced DNA extraction method for hair shaft forensic evidence which when combined with a recently developed nuclear DNA typing assay, improves “the success rate for obtaining informative results from highly compromised, degraded and trace forensic samples such as rootless hair shafts.” The result: “These methodologies can produce nuclear DNA results with high statistical power from rootless hair shafts.”

I am asking that the hair that is in evidence in the Oakland County Child Murders be sent to Bode laboratory for testing purposes. The results from the testing can then be sent to an independent research firm for genealogy research in order to identify the perpetrator(s) in this long unsolved case. For example, the results could be outsourced for the genetic GED Match inquiry to a genetic genealogist such as Barbara Rae- Venter. Rae-Venter was instrumental in helping to solve the Golden State Killer Case, as well as identifying the victims in the Bear Brook murder cases. She has since been approached to assist in over 50 unsolved homicide and unidentified victim cases.

Venter has been a very busy person after success in these cases, but again—notice these are sometimes cases involving rootless hair shaft evidence. For example:
Thirty-three years after the crime, breaks in the case are happening fast. On Nov. 13, 2018, Dr. Rae-Venter uploaded the adult victim’s DNA profile to GEDmatch. “I got the results at 6 a.m. the next morning and identified her by 8 through a second-cousin match. All because of atDNA from rootless hair.
“Extracting atDNA from the hair shaft was not possible before,” she emphasized, adding that final identification must still be confirmed by DNA testing of a family member. “The implications of this technology for solving cold cases worldwide are just huge.”

Some important points:

1. Rootless hair fragments, decades-old, can now be analyzed at a much more sophisticated level, resulting in GED Match quality DNA results.

2. The second part of the inquiry, involving finding a family member in genetic data bases, can be outsourced to an independent genetic genealogist or firm. I read an interview of Rae-Venter where she explains that in a very short period of time, these types of inquiries, which use to take 20,000 hours of work now take a small fraction of this time.

3. If the State of Michigan is unable or unwilling to commit the resources to pay for testing these hairs with Bode Cellmark Forensics, the Tim King Trust has sufficient funds in it to cover these costs and would be the perfect use for these funds.

4. Even if Rae-Venter is too busy at this point to consult and work on this case, I am sure she would be intrigued by this case and could give guidance on the next best resource.

I am assuming all of the hair evidence in the OCCK case has been mtDNA sequenced and that this was the basis for the statement by Cooper that the hairs from the bodies of Mark and Tim, as well as hair found in the Sloan car, all match. In light of these recent DNA advancements, the fact that further testing can easily be conducted by labs and genetic genealogists with the necessary expertise, and that this can be done at no cost to the state, there is no excuse for not going forward with this approach.

The state police will be called to account in the near future, not just by me, for their failure to do everything possible to solve these cases. They want a DNA case—now they may well have one. And let’s be honest, why wouldn’t they want to be out-front on this and be ready to go if they get names of men Mark and Tim may have been sold to after they were abducted and later murdered by yet another participant? We have long discussed how it is likely the owner of these hairs had no criminal record and will not be found in CODIS. The hairs are the key to this case? Then they MUST be tested as described above. All the MSP has to do is make contact with Bode and send the hairs on to be tested. We will pay for the testing. They can even sit on their asses until they get results before they contact Rae-Venter. We will pay for her work, too.

Finally, does the MSP have DNA from a relative of McKinney?

Owner of these hairs found on Mark and Tim (and family members and associates who know who this is), your day is coming. If law enforcement follows the procedures outlined above (as other agencies have successfully done), your days of anonymity and threatening those who have come forward and spoken out will come to a swift and hopefully painful end.

Father of Oakland County Child Killer victim waits for answers.

And waits, and waits, and waits:

Party’s over, sex criminals.

Just ask your pal Harvey Weinstein. The courage of his victims was an incredible contrast to Weinstein’s bullshit, old-school defense. And kudos to the Manhattan District Attorney’s office for bringing this case against a monster who victimized and intimidated with impunity. Money can’t buy you everything, Harv.

Justice for all

A year ago today a documentary about this case, Children of the Snow, aired on Investigation Discovery. It is now available on Hulu. If you haven’t watched it, you should.

Please read this letter from Michael Farquar, sent to Governor Gretchen Whitmer on December 5, 2019, about the reason for his participation in the documentary. I received permission from Mike to publish this letter on the one-year anniversary date of the documentary airing. When I copied it, the file name said “Justice for all.” In Michigan it seems it is often “Justice for none.”


Governor Whitmer did not respond to Mike’s letter. Her office did, however, send him a generic holiday greeting a few weeks later. Let’s hope 2020 brings some answers and some peace. Let’s hope law enforcement makes it a priority to actually work on the tips that have come forward in the wake of Children of the Snow. As Mike says in his closing:

“My family and I have already felt the wrath of public exposure; wrath that was never visited on the perpetrators of these crimes or the investigators and agencies who failed to bring anyone to justice. Someone at the highest levels of Michigan government needs to evaluate what has taken place here out of a sense of justice to all the child victims and to ensure nothing like this is allowed to fester in Michigan ever again.”