Everything we know about the Oakland County Child Killer case

4 children murdered between February 1976 and March 1977

Mark Stebbins (Left), Jill Robinson (Right), Kristine Mihelich (Bottom left), Timothy King (Bottom right). (WDIV)

OAKLAND COUNTY, Mich. – It has been 47 years since the first known victim of the Oakland County Child Killer was abducted and murdered.

Mark Stebbins, 12, vanished on Feb. 15, 1976. He was found dead four days later. Police believe a serial killer murdered Stebbins and three other children in Oakland County between 1976 and 1977.

The children were all last seen within a mile of Woodward Avenue. They had been fed and cared for until their murders. The killer, or killers, bathed them or made them bathe. The killer is known primarily as The Oakland County Child Killer, but they are also known as The Babysitter or the Babysitter Killer.

The investigation into the serial killings was the largest of its kind in U.S. history at the time.

Michigan State Police confirmed the investigation is still open and all new tips are investigated as they come in. Anyone with information should contact 1-855-MICHTIP (855-642-4847).

Some of the events described in this article are disturbing.

Confirmed victims of the Oakland County Child Killer

There are four children police consider confirmed victims in the Oakland County Child Killer case: Mark Stebbins, 12; Jill Robinson, 12; Kristine Mihelich, 10; and Timothy King, 11.

All four children were murdered between February 1976 and March 1977. Two of the victims were girls and two were boys. Police believe only the boys had been sexually assaulted. The cause of death in three of the cases is listed as suffocation, but Jill Robinson was murdered with a shotgun.

The murder of Mark Stebbins

Mark Stebbins had been missing for four days before his body was found near an office complex in Southfield.

The 12-year-old boy spoke to his mother on the phone at 1:30 p.m. on Feb. 15, 1976. He called her to let her know that he was leaving the American Legion Hall in Ferndale to head home, according to reports. He never arrived home. His mother called Ferndale police at 11 p.m. that night to report him missing.

His body was discovered on Feb. 19, 1976. A businessman named Mark Boetigheimer was walking toward a drug store located inside the New Orleans Mall when he thought he saw a mannequin dressed in a blue jacket and jeans. As he approached the object he realized he had discovered a child’s body. That was around 11:45 a.m.

Another person told police they walked their dog around that parking lot at 9:30 a.m. the morning the body was found. The man said his dog was on a 20-foot leash and they walked around that part of the parking lot. He said if the body was there at that time his dog would have found it. If the man is correct, that means Mark’s body was not in the parking lot at 9:30 a.m., but it was at 11:45 a.m.

Mark was a 7th-grade student at Lincoln Junior High School. He was 4′8′' tall and weighed 100 pounds. The autopsy listed his cause of death as asphyxia by way of smothering and noted rope burns on his neck, wrists and ankles. He had been sexually assaulted. L. Brooks Patterson, who was the Oakland County prosecutor at the time, said Mark’s body was washed by an autopsy team, washing away any fingerprints.

“I’m just hoping that maybe something can come out after all these years,” his brother Michael Stebbins told Local 4 in 2021. “I would hope that if anybody out there has information in the case that they would please put it forward because it has been a very long 45 years for me with no answers at all.”

The body of Mark Stebbins was discovered in Southfield at 11:45 a.m. on Feb. 19, 1976. He had been suffocated.

The murder of Jill Robinson

Jill Robinson had been missing for four days before her body was found on the side of I-75.

The 12-year-old girl left home on Dec. 22, 1976, after an argument. Karol Robinson, Jill’s mother, said they were arguing because Jill had been asked to make biscuits for dinner and she refused. Karol told Jill to leave until she became part of the family.

Jill went to her room, got dressed, packed up clothes and a blanket into a denim bag and left. She rode her bike away from her home. Jill was spotted by a family friend at a hobby shop on Woodward Avenue just four and 1/2 blocks away from her home, according to a previous report.

Jill’s father, Thomas Robinson, called the police at 11:30 p.m. the day she left to report her missing. Witnesses said they saw Jill in the Donut Depot on Maple Road between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. that morning.

Her body was discovered on the side of I-75, north of Big Beaver Road, on Dec. 26, 1976. Her killer had transported her there and shot her at close range in the head with a shotgun. She was laying on her back and was fully clothed. Police said there were no signs of sexual abuse.

The murder of Kristine Mihelich

Kristine Mihelich had been missing for 19 days before her body was found in a snowbank in Franklin Village.

The 10-year-old girl lived with her mother in Berkley and was a 5th-grade student at Pattengill Elementary School. She was last seen on Jan. 2, 1977. She left the bowling alley where her mother worked to go to a 7-Eleven store.

Her body was discovered by a mail carrier in a snowbank at the end of a dead-end street in Franklin Village on Jan. 21, 1977. Her body was so frozen, officials had to wait until the next day to perform an autopsy.

Police said there were no signs of violence and she was in the same clothes she was last seen in. Her body was on its back, knees drawn up. She had not been sexually assaulted. Her cause of death was listed as suffocation.

Kristine’s mother filed a lawsuit in 2012 against prosecutors and investigators alleging the case had been mishandled. The family said the case was handled so badly that they feel any hope of learning who their daughter’s killer is has been lost. The case was dismissed in 2013.

Barry and Marion King (WDIV)

The murder of Timothy King

Timothy King had been missing for seven days before his body was found in a Livonia ditch.

The 11-year-old boy is the fourth victim to be connected to the Oakland County Child Killer. He was last seen on March 16, 1977. He left his Birmingham home with 30 cents he borrowed from his older sister. He left for the Hunter-Maple Pharmacy. The trip was about three blocks and he made it often.

A clerk at the pharmacy said she sold Tim candy at 8:30 p.m. and he left through the back door into the dark parking lot. Before Tim left home he asked his sister to leave the door ajar for him. His sister also left home that night. Their parents returned to the home at 9 p.m. to find the door ajar and no sign of Tim.

The family searched everywhere for the boy. By 9:15 a.m. the next morning police called on a task force to help investigate. Tim was the seventh child to go missing in that area and tensions were at an all-time high. That morning headquarters were established just a few blocks from his home. Police conducted door-to-door searches and interviewed his classmates.

“We love him very much. He had a basketball game Saturday and missed practice today (Thursday). He’s active in a school play. He’s an achiever and a participator. We just love Tim and want him to come home.” Tim’s father, Barry King, said.

The boy’s body was found on March 23, 1977, in a ditch along Gill Road, about 300 feet south of 8 Mile Road in Livonia. He was found by a motorist, just a short distance away from a very busy intersection. He was wearing the same clothes he had on when he left for the pharmacy. His skateboard was found about 15 feet away from his body.

The autopsy revealed Tim had been fed his favorite meal, Kentucky Fried Chicken, cleaned and groomed thoroughly before he was suffocated. There was evidence Tim had been sexually assaulted.

It was after Tim’s murder that police knew they were investigating a serial child killer. They organized the largest manhunt in U.S. history at that time and a task force was established.

Barry King and his wife established the Tim King Fund in 1977 to provide assistance to abused children and promote youth activities in Birmingham. Barry King died in 2020 without answers. He had spent decades pursuing the case on his own.

Timothy King

The investigation

The murder investigation was the largest of its kind in U.S. history at the time and a special task force was formed.

The task force first became a concept at a meeting regarding the disappearance of Kristine Mihelich. Southfield Police Department Lt. Jerry Simmons set up a meeting with all police departments involved in the Robinson murder and Mihelich’s disappearance.

The task force was officially formed and funded after Tim vanished. The task force received more than 11,000 tips, including one from a woman who told police she saw Tim King speaking with a man near a blue AMC Gremlin with a white stripe on its side.

That tip sparked a massive search and police stopped anyone who drove a blue Gremlin. Now, there is doubt that a Gremlin was even involved at all. The special task force has since been disbanded.

Is North Fox Island connected to the Oakland County Child Killer?

North Fox Island. (WDIV)

In 1977, police investigated a child pornography ring on North Fox Island.

The massive investigation led police to two people: Frank Sheldon, of Grosse Pointe, and Jerry Richards, a teacher in Port Huron. Sheldon owned much of North Fox Island and Richards recruited young boys to fly to the island, according to investigators.

Sheldon built an airfield with a landing strip, added a docking area and constructed cabins on the island. He had a private jet and flew children from Charlevoix to the island where he had a filming operation for a child pornography ring.

Sheldon fled the country in 1976 and was never prosecuted. He died in 1996. Richards was prosecuted for child pornography and has since died. Investigators do not believe either man is the Oakland County Child Killer, but one theory suggests the killer could be someone they victimized on the island.

“We were the first to look at pornography and pornography rings and pedophilia as being a motive in this (Oakland County Child Killer) case,” former Wayne County Detective Cory Williams told Shattered. “We put quite a bit of time and effort into that. Were these kids filmed? Pictures taken? Were they passed around? We don’t know at this point, but we did put a lot of time and effort into that.”

Police interview man convicted on child porn charges

On March 29, 1977, three Michigan State Police detectives flew to Joliet, Illinois, to speak with an unnamed man in the Stateville Correctional Center who had been convicted of distributing child pornography.

Police wanted to find out if the Oakland County Child Killer victims had been used to create pornographic films or still photos and where that material would be marketed if that was the case.

The man provided detectives with information on where the material would be marketed and who might have knowledge of it. He said he doubted the murderer, who he described as psychotic, would be interested in that. He felt there was too much police attention on child pornography to find any market at that time.

He is quoted as telling detectives, “He is going to keep it up. Just why in the hell does he do it all in one locality except he is screaming for you to catch him.”

Letter sent to a Detroit psychiatrist: ‘I know who the killer is’

Dr. Bruce Danto (Shattered podcast | Child Killer, Chapter 7)

A person claiming to be the roommate of the Oakland County Child Killer wrote a long letter to a Detroit psychiatrist in 1977.

Dr. Bruce Danto shared the letter with investigators. The author of the letter only identified himself as “Allen” and he referred to the killer as “Frank.”

Allen said he went with the killer when he looked for boys. He said he was not with Frank when he kidnapped the four murder victims. The letter had many spelling and punctuation errors.

“I am dsperite and nearly gone crazy and haven’t got no place left to turn,” Allen wrote. “Please dont give up the killer to the police. You must help me as there is no one else I cant turn to. This is for real I know who the killer is, I live with him I am his slave.”

Allen said he stayed with the children in an apartment in Detroit while Frank went to work. He said the children were gagged so nobody else in the apartment complex could hear them.

Allen said he met Frank in Vietnam and that the war had twisted Frank’s mind. “He killed a lot of little kids then with medals for it. Burned them to death, bombed them with napalm . . . He wants the rich people like people in Birmingham to suffer like all of us suffered to get nothing back for what we did for our country,” Allen wrote. “He’s not a monster like you think -- He really loves children especially that little girl for three weeks not doing it because hates children but doing it because hates everybody else out there . . .”

Allen asked Danto to contact him through the newspapers using the code words, “trees to bloom in three weeks.” According to a Ludington Daily News report, Danto received a call from Allen on April 10, 1977, and the two agreed to meet the next night at a bar.

Allen said he would bring polaroid pictures that would prove Frank killed the four children if Danto brought a letter of immunity from then-Governor William Milliken. Allen never showed up at the bar.

“The man sounded very frightened, not cool and composed,” Danto told the newspaper. “I don’t think it was a hoax call.”

Named persons of interest

A suspect is not currently named in the Oakland County Child Killer case.

Instead, investigators have several persons of interest in the case. People who may know, or at least know of, the killer. Many of the persons of interest have ties to crimes involving pedophilia. The evidence tying these persons of interest to the case range from DNA to flat-out accusations.

Archibald Edward Sloan

Investigators believe Archibald Edward Sloan could have ties to the Oakland County Child Killer.

Investigators found a hair in Sloan’s car, a 1966 Pontiac Bonneville, that is a DNA match to evidence found at two of the Oakland County Child Killer crime scenes -- Mark Stebbins’ and Timothy King’s.

The hair is not Sloan’s, but police believe it belonged to someone he knows. It is believed that Sloan worked at a garage or gas station near 10 Mile and Middlebelt roads during the time of the Oakland County Child Killer murders.

The 81-year-old man was sentenced to life in prison in 1985 on two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. The charges were for an assault that took place on Oct. 1, 1983. Sloan is alive and is still serving that sentence.

Christopher Busch

For decades, victims’ family members believed Christopher Busch was the Oakland County Child Killer.

He was a convicted pedophile who lived in Bloomfield Hills. Busch’s name first came up in 1977, when Gregory Greene was arrested on child sexual assault charges. Greene told police Busch killed Stebbins. Busch was arrested and while in custody he confessed to sexually assaulting a child.

Greene was convicted and sentenced to life in prison on child sexual assault charges. Busch faced the same charges and agreed to a plea deal. Busch was sentenced to probation for sexually assaulting James Vincent Gunnels, who was a child at the time.

Gunnels told police Busch assaulted him at the Busch family cottage on Ess Lake in northern Michigan. Police got a call that Busch was at Ess Lake with three young boys just three days before Tim King was found dead.

Busch killed himself in 1978. Police sources told Local 4 that Busch’s suicide appeared suspicious and may have been a murder. Blood-stained ropes were found at Busch’s home. The ropes were kept in an evidence locker for years before they went missing. Photos from the suicide scene also show a drawing that was pinned to Busch’s wall. It appears to be a drawing of a tortured child, some believe the child resembles Mark Stebbins.

In 2012, police said there is zero evidence suggesting Busch was the killer. His DNA does not match the physical evidence investigators have.

“There isn’t a piece of evidence that we can point to and say Mr. Bush killed Timothy King, Jill Robinson, Kristine Mihelich or Mark Stebbins,” said then-chief Assistant Oakland County Prosecutor Paul Walton in 2012.

James Vincent Gunnels

James Vincent Gunnels told Local 4 in 2012 that he had nothing to do with the murders.

Gunnels’ DNA is a mitochondrial DNA match to a hair found on Kristine Mihelich’s body. A mitochondrial match means the hair belongs to Gunnels or a male relative on his mother’s side.

“I’m not guilty. There it is there. But at the same time, I know how the state police twist words to their advantage,” Gunnels said in 2012. “My heart goes out to those families. It really, really, really does. I don’t feel that they were served justice through any of this.”

Gunnels was only 16 years old at the time of the killings. According to police documents, investigators believed Gunnels may have been part of a group involved in the child killings or used as a lure to draw kids closer to the killer.

Theodore Lamborgine and Richard Lawson

There was a sex ring that targeted young boys in Detroit’s Cass Corridor in the 1970s.

There were five men believed to be involved in the ring. Theodore “Ted” Lamborgine and Richard Lawson were the only two still alive when they faced charges in 2006. Lamborgine was charged with 19 counts of sexually assaulting children and Lawson faced 28 similar charges.

Investigators do not believe either man is the killer, but they do believe they have valuable information regarding the case.

Lawson was serving a life sentence for murder when he told Local 4 in 2006 that he knows who the Oakland County Child Killer is. Lawson named Bobby Moore, one of the deceased members of the sex ring, as the killer.

Lamborgine is still alive and serving his life sentence.

Theodore Lamborgine arrested in 2006. (WDIV)

David Norberg

David Norberg was considered a suspect until 1999.

In August 1999, a team of experts flew to Wyoming to exhume Norberg’s body.

DNA samples were taken and tested, but there was no match.

Murders not linked to Oakland County Child Killer

There are four other names that come up when you search online for information about victims of the Oakland County Child Killer.

Police have either disproven any connection to the Oakland County Child Killer case, or there is no conclusive evidence linking them to the serial killings.

Those names are: Jane Louise Allan, 14; Kimberly Alice King, 12; Cynthia Rae Cadieux, 16; and Sheila Srock, 14. Two of these cases remain unsolved to this day, but convictions have come down in the other two cases.

The murder of Jane Louise Allan

Jane Louise Allan, 14, was last seen alive in Royal Oak at 12:30 p.m. on Aug. 7, 1976.

Police said that afternoon she hitchhiked 17 miles to visit her boyfriend in Auburn Heights. Her boyfriend told police he reprimanded her for hitchhiking and she left his house shortly after.

Four days after she disappeared, the decomposed body of a girl thought to be 17 years old was found floating in the Miami River, near Miamisburg, Ohio. Her hands were tied behind her back with pieces of a white t-shirt.

Clothing, jewelry and a recently sutured cut on her wrist led police to identify her as Jane Allan. The coroner in Ohio believed she was dead before she was thrown into the river, possibly from carbon monoxide poisoning. Investigators could not tell if she had been assaulted.

Police believe Allan was picked up while hitchhiking and either deliberately or accidentally killed by the motorist, who then disposed of her body in the river. In a 1978 report, police said she had no connection to the Oakland County child killings.

The disappearance of Kimberly Alice King

Kimberly Alice King, 12, disappeared in 1979 and still has not been found. She is not related to Tim King.

Kimberly King was last seen on Sept. 16, 1979, at a friend’s house in Warren. She walked from her friend’s house and went to a pay phone to call her sister. Her sister told her she shouldn’t be out on the street at that hour, and told her to return to her friend’s home.

Kimberly King returned to the home but left out a window at around 11 p.m. that night. Officials believe she was murdered. Officials have not noted a confirmed link to the Oakland County Child Killer case, but her name is mentioned on several websites.

Police believe her disappearance and suspected death are linked to suspected serial killer Arthur Ream. He is in prison for the murder of 13-year-old Cindy Zarzycki, who was killed in 1986. Police believe Ream is responsible for four to six murders.

The murder of Cynthia Rae Cadieux

Cynthia Rae Cadieux, 16, was last seen at 8:30 p.m. on Jan. 15, 1976, in Roseville.

Her nude body was found at 1:05 a.m. the next morning on the side of Franklin Road in Bloomfield Township by a motorist. Police said her skull had been crushed by a blunt instrument. Police said she had been abducted, sexually assaulted, murdered and dumped on the roadside. Her clothing was never found.

Bobby Anglin (also known as Robert L. Anglin) was convicted of first-degree murder in 1979 and sentenced to life in prison.

The murder of Sheila Srock

Sheila Srock, 14, was sexually assaulted and then shot and killed on Jan. 19, 1976, while babysitting at a home in Birmingham.

Srock, an orphan, lived with her older brother in Birmingham. At 8:30 p.m. on the day she was murdered, Srock was babysitting in an upstairs room of a home on Villa Street.

A man accused of breaking into three other houses in the neighborhood using a prybar and a screwdriver broke into the home Srock was in, according to reports. A neighbor said they were on their roof shoveling snow when they saw a man sexually assault her and then kill her with a series of shots from a pistol.

Oliver Rhodes Andrews was convicted of first-degree murder in the death of Sheila Srock. He was sentenced to life in prison in 1979.

According to a 1976 report, Andrews confessed in a four-hour confession that he sexually assaulted Srock and shot her five times. He said he believed the home was empty when he broke in and Srock surprised him. Andrews was suspected of around 200 burglaries in several states.

Oakland County Child killer investigation. (WDIV) (WDIV)

Watch the 5-part Oakland County Child Killer docuseries

In 2019, Local 4 released a five-part docuseries on the Oakland County Child Killer case.

You can watch all five parts of the docuseries by following the links below:

The Shattered podcast also covered the Oakland County Child Killer case. You can listen to each episode here: Chapter 1: The Beginning of the End; Chapter 2: There’s Something Happening Here; Chapter 3: Captive; Chapter 4: He’s Just Not Here Anymore; Chapter 5: North Fox Island; Chapter 6: The Magicians’ Confession; Chapter 7: Dr. Danto

The investigation is still open and all new tips are investigated as they come in. Anyone with information should contact 1-855-MICHTIP (855-642-4847). If you, or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, help is available by calling or texting 988. Michigan has a free, anonymous sexual assault hotline you can reach by calling 1-855-864-2374 or texting 1-866-238-1454.

About the Author:

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.