Recap: E65 The Oakland County Child Killer Pt. 2

After the confirmation of Timothy King’s murder on March 22nd, 1977, the state of mind in the Detroit metropolitan area frays and unravels fast. Once again, the Oakland County Child Killer leaves a child’s corpse in plain sight and a community foaming at the mouth in fear. Residents point fingers in every direction, jumping strangers driving blue Gremlins and making random accusations against their own family, public officials, teachers, and clergy members. Years later, in the mid-to-late 2000s, the King family discover a number of details about the case that the County hid to protect wealthy men of influence – and possibly, the Oakland County Child Killer himself.


Bill Reeves turns down the radio in his new blue Gremlin after missing a turn. He pulls up next to a woman and her child to ask for directions but she responds by clicking off the safety to her pistol and instructing her son to memorize Reeves’ license plate. Freaked out, Reeves speeds off, only to be harassed by a car tailgating and repeatedly honking at him. The second car unexpectedly collides into him, running both vehicles off the road. When they come to a complete stop, the other driver attempts to make a citizen’s arrest, mistaking Reeves, just a traveler passing through Detroit, for the Oakland County Child Killer (OCCK). Once it’s clear he’s not the serial murderer, authorities release him.

Meanwhile, the real suspect, Benjamin Ward, takes a polygraph test and passes. He explains that curiosity brought him to Kristen Mihelich’s funeral and the desire to pray kept him there. Police search his home and car with Ward’s full cooperation but uncover nothing incriminating.

Local celebrity psychologist, Dr. Bruce Danto, publishes in collaboration with the County’s Special Task Force and Detroit News a column pleading with the killer to stop harming children and seek help. In response, he gets a mysterious and disturbing letter that’s signed “Allen” on April 4th, 1977. The writer claims to be the Oakland County Child Killer’s remorseful partner in crime. After notifying the Task Force, Danto successfully convinces the Detroit News to plant the secret message Allen requested in the paper.

In response, Allen calls Danto’s home office requesting immunity from the governor in exchange for incriminating polaroid photos. The police hide a wire on Danto’s person, and send along an undercover cop, before he goes to the Pony Cart Inn to meet Allen. However, Allen is a no show and Dr. Danto never hears from him again. The Oakland County Child Killer disappears, as well, and does not return. By December of 1978, the Task Force disbands.

The case and Task Force resurges in 2005, when a man using the pseudonym “Bob” calls the Oakland County Chief Prosecutor’s office and claims to know the identity of the Oakland County Child Killer. Someone he knew in the 70s had a habit of showing him weird places, like abandoned warehouses and dilapidated buildings, and the OCCK’s dump sites. Allegedly, his acquaintance participated in Satanic rituals inside these spaces, often involving the sacrifice of human children. But in exchange for the acquaintance’s name, Bob demands access to the Task Force’s investigative files.

When Chief Prosecutor Jessica Cooper denies him, Bob harasses the families of the victims. He pretends to be law enforcement investigating the Oakland County Child Killer case and, together with local attorney Paul Hughes, mounts a campaign accusing the County of obscuring the truth and mishandling the investigation.

They spread the rumor that there’s a connection between the OCCK case and the former North Fox Island child sex ring – a secret sex retreat for wealthy pedophiles run by Francis D. Shelden in the 70s. Whoever the Oakland County Child Killer was, he was at least tangentially involved in Shelden’s child sex ring operation, but Bob and Hughes’s campaign appears to be a money scam. In addition to filing a $100 million lawsuit against the County, Hughes solicits donations from his website for the campaign and charges $1,500 a pop for copies of Bob’s case findings.

In 2008, the King family learns that Christopher Busch, son of a General Motors executive, was taken in by Oakland County Task Force in 1977 as a suspect in the murder of Mark Stebbins and administered a polygraph. Although Busch was exonerated, he committed suicide in 1978, coinciding with the end of the Oakland County Child Killer killings. In his bedroom, a sketch was found of a boy screaming in agony and dressed in clothes similar to what Stebbins wore when he was abducted and murdered.

DNA testing reveals a partial match of known pedophile James Vincent Gunnels to a hair found on Kristen Mihelich’s body. As a teenager, Gunnels was sexually abused by Christopher Busch, but the trail goes cold after that.

In 2007, Theodore Lamborgine, a confirmed participant in the North Fox Island sex ring, suspiciously pleads guilty to fifteen counts of sexual misconduct in order to avoid taking a polygraph on the Oakland County Child Killer case. Even the promise of a reduced sentence does not compel him to talk.

Further DNA testing concludes that the hair previously taken from notorious pedophile Archibald Sloane’s Pontiac Bonneville matches samples of both Mark Stebbins and Timothy King. Sloane was known for lending his car out to other pedophiles.

Timothy King’s family believe that police focused too much on blue Gremlins, and that the abduction vehicle used by the killer was really something else. They also suspect that Busch underwent a pre-polygraph interview and said more about his involvement with the Oakland County Child Killer’s crimes. New analysis of Christopher Busch’s polygraph shows that he did not pass it with flying colors.

However, the King family’s efforts to obtain information about the current investigation are stonewalled by the County, leading them to believe the local government has something to hide. One major conspiracy theory stipulates that Busch was murdered by government and police officials with connections to a larger, statewide sex ring.

Unsolved Murders: True Crime Stories show hosts Carter and Wenndy are convinced that Christopher Busch was the Oakland County Child Killer, intricately tied to the North Fox Island case and the statewide sex rings. They believe Busch borrowed Sloane’s car for the abductions of Mark Stebbins and Timothy King, explaining why their hair was in the Pontiac, but used another car for the others. According to our theory, Gunnels accompanied Busch on one or more of these kidnappings, and may have been the infamous “Allen,” which would account for why his hair was on Kristen Mihelich’s body. Busch either killed himself out of shame or fear, or was murdered by those higher up in Michigan’s child sex ring.

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