GOOD HART, Mich. – A family of six from Metro Detroit was killed in their summer home 54 years ago, and many questions remain unanswered to this day.
The Robison family, Richard, 42, Shirley, 40, and their four children -- ages 19, 16, 12 and 7 -- were from Lathrup Village. They were spending the summer in a cottage in a secluded resort area in Good Hart, Michigan. They were last seen by the caretaker on June 24, 1968.
The caretaker said he noticed bullet holes in the window of the cottage in July and checked under the house after he smelled a strong odor. He did not investigate any further because he said he thought the bullet holes were caused by children using pellet guns.
All six family members were found dead on July 22, 1968, after two people living nearby complained to the caretaker of an odor, according to UpNorthLive. Police said they had all been shot, beaten and left for about a month in the summer heat until their bodies were discovered.
Police said a note was found near the door that said the family was planning a trip to Kentucky and were leaving on June 25. They said they expected to return July 7 or 8.
“It was a mass murder,”Lt. Col. Melvin Kaufman, then-deputy director of the Michigan State Police told the Associated Press. The Emmett County prosecutor and undersheriff issued a joint statement saying, “We feel these murders were premeditated.”
Richard Robison ran an advertising agency and published the cultural magazine “Impressario.” Investigators looked into Joe Scollaro as a potential suspect, according to UpNorthLive. Scollaro was an employee of Richard Robison’s magazine.
Scollaro was given three lie detector tests and failed all of them. His alibi was unsubstantiated and reports said there were other links back to the crime.
Investigators put together a massive report asking the Emmet County prosecutor to charge Scollaro with the murders but the prosecutor did not file charges, according to the report.
Oakland County prosecutors started a search for answers in 1973. They looked into embezzlement accusations. According to UpNorthLive, Scollaro died by suicide after he heard bout the potential charges.
Scollaro left a note to his mother where he apologized to everyone he had debts to. At the beginning of the note, he said, “I am a liar, a cheat but not a killer.” At the end of the note he wrote, “I did not kill the Robinsons.”
Read: Michigan cold case coverage
Why is ClickOnDetroit covering so many cold cases?
We’re working to bring attention to as many unsolved and missing persons cases from around the state as we can. Our hope is that getting this important information out to the public will help generate tips for investigators and potentially lead to closure for the affected families. If you have a cold case you’d like us to look into, please let us know by using the form below.