Oakland County Child Killer

Case Background


Someone killed at least four children in Oakland County, Mich. between 1976 and 1977.

Investigators have been working for decades to determine who the serial killer is and if he is still alive. Those who knew the victims -- their families, friends, classmates, teachers, coaches and neighbors -- have been forever changed by what happened during the 13-month period from February 1976 to March 1977. In that time, the four children were abducted and murdered with their bodies left in various locations within or just outside Oakland County.

There were at least two other murder cases that investigators believe may have been victims of the "Oakland County Child Killer" or "The Babysitter Killer," as some called him. 

The ensuing murder investigation was the largest of its kind in U.S. history at the time.


For more Oakland County Child Killer coverage, go here.

WATCH HERE: 5-part Oakland County Child Killer docuseries


A look back at what happened in 1976-77 -- watch: 



The victims

Mark Stebbins

  • 12 years old
  • Hometown: Ferndale, Mich. 
  • Last seen: 1:30 p.m. Feb. 15, 1976
  • Body found: Feb. 19, 1976 in Ferndale, Mich. 
  • Cause of death: Suffocation -- he also was sexually assaulted
  • Family history: Mark's parents were divorced and he lived with his mother. He came from a Roman Catholic family and he was described as a loner -- a quiet and good student. 

Mark was last seen and heard from at 1:30 p.m. Feb. 15. He talked to his mother on the phone. He was letting her know that he was leaving the American Legion Hall to head home. He never made it and at 11 p.m. that night Mark’s mother called the Ferndale Police Department to report Mark missing.

At about 11:45 a.m. Feb. 19, 1976, a businessman named Mark Boetigheimer left his office building and headed toward a drug store located inside the New Orleans mall at 10 Mile and Greenfield roads. On his way something caught his eye in the northeast corner of the parking lot. He saw what looked like a mannequin dressed in a blue jacket and jeans. But as he got closer he knew he stumbled into a situation much more grim. It was a body, a human body. It was the lifeless body of 12-year-old Mark Stebbins.

Another person told police that they walked their dog around that parking lot, just so it could get some exercise. That was around 9:30 a.m. the same morning the body was found. The man said his dog was on a 20-foot leash and they walked that part of the lot. He said if that body was there at the time, his dog would have found it. If that's true, Mark’s body wasn’t there at 9:30 a.m. But it was at 11:45 a.m. when Mark Boetigheimer found him. That means there was a 2-hour-and-15-minute window in which someone or some people dumped Mark's body in the area. 

Mark was a 7th-grader at Lincoln Junior High School. He stood 4 feet 8 inches and weighed about 100 pounds. His strawberry-blond hair would have likely been covered by the hood on his parka as he walked in the cold, thin air. The autopsy showed the cause of death as asphyxia by way of smothering, but the report also showed rope burns on his neck, wrists and ankles. It appeared that Mark was also 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 finger prints. 

Jill Robinson

  • 12 years old
  • Hometown: Royal Oak, Mich. 
  • Last seen: Late afternoon of Dec. 22, 1976
  • Body found: 8:45 a.m. Dec. 26, 1976 near I-75 and Big Beaver Road in Troy, Mich. 
  • Cause of death: Shotgun blast to her head -- she was not sexually assaulted
  • Family history: Jill's parents were divorced. She lived with her mother in Royal Oak and visited her father regularly. Her family was Roman Catholic. She was described as a loner and a smart, good student. 

Karol Robinson had three daughters and was recently divorced. She and her oldest, Jill, would butt heads and on one occasion in December of 1976 they did just that. It was an argument that led to Jill running away from home. She was last seen at a hobby shop on Woodward Avenue, then the Donut Depot on Maple Road between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. Dec. 23. 

According to Karol, Jill’s mother, the two were arguing about biscuits. Jill was asked to help make them for dinner, she refused. Sometime after a heated back-and-forth, Karol told her to leave until she became part of the family. Jill went to her room, packed up her clothes and a plaid blanket into a denim bag. Before she left she dressed herself in blue jeans, a shirt, an orange winter coat and a blue knit cap with a yellow design on it, and then she would leave, just like her mother asked her to. She rode her bike away from her mother and her home.

Jill would later be seen by a family friend at a hobby shop on Woodward Avenue, just four and 1/2 blocks away from her mother’s home. The next morning, two witnesses said they saw her in the Donut Depot on Maple Road -- this was between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m.

Jill's father, Thomas Robinson, made a call to police at 11:30 p.m. the day she left. Jill was found on the side of I-75, north of Big Beaver Road. She was laying on her back, fully clothed, not bound in any way, but a ring of deep dark red surrounded her head. The killer had transported her here, then shot her at close range in the head with a shotgun. It was later decided that Jill was fed and cared for at least three days. She seemed to be washed, clean and with no signs of sexual abuse at all.

Kristine Mihelich

  • 10 years old
  • Hometown: Berkley, Mich. 
  • Last seen: Jan. 2, 1977
  • Body found: Jan. 21, 1977 -- she was missing for 19 days -- she was found in a snowbank along Bruce Road in Franklin Village, Mich. 
  • Cause of death: Suffocation -- she was not sexually assaulted
  • Family history: Kristine's parents were divorced and she lived with her mother in Berkley, Mich. Kristine was described as shy, quiet and an average student with few friends. She was a 5th-grader at Pattengill Elementary School. 

Police said there were no signs of violence and that she was in the same clothes she was last seen in. Her body was on its back, knees drawn up. That’s when a Franklin Village mailman, Jerry Wozny, saw her. He saw her blue jacket in the snow on the same route he’d been driving for eight years. 

State police Sgt. Robert Robertson supervised the removal of the girl's body. Thirty-five officers from nine different departments made a task force that Prosecutor Patterson called "the strongest effort I’ve ever seen in this county." The task force was headquartered in Southfield. Police Sgt. Joseph Krease was charged with tracking down Kristine’s abductor.

Kristine’s mother, Deborah Ascroft said "people keep talking about the Royal Oak girl (Jill Robinson) but I’m just not even going to think about that." Ascroft said that in an interview on Jan. 5, 1977. At the time, Kristine had two younger brothers and according to her mother they kept asking “when is she coming home?"

Shortly after Kristine’s disappearance, a child from the elementary school she attended was missing, which set off a panic at the school. A frantic search went of for about 20 minutes and the child eventually was found on school grounds. Tensions were at an all-time high.

Parents at Pattengill Elementary School were lined up outside school to pick up their children -- many of them used to walk home, but not now. When Kristine's body was found in a snowbank at the end of a deadend street in Franklin Village, it was so frozen officials had to wait until the following day to perform an autopsy, because of the body’s frozen state.

Wozny -- the mail carrier who found her -- said: "I saw a hand ... It scared the hell out of me."

Kristine was the fifth young person from Oakland County to die within the year. As of late January 1977, Patterson had no evidence to link Mark and Kristine's deaths. 

Timothy King

  • 11 years old
  • Hometown: Birmingham, Mich. 
  • Last seen: March 16, 1977
  • Body found: March 23, 1977 in a ditch along Gill Road, about 300 feet south of 8 Mile Road in Livonia -- He was missing for seven days.
  • Cause of death: Suffocation -- he also was sexually assaulted
  • Family history: Timothy's parents were not divorced. He lived with them in Birmingham, Mich. His family was Roman Catholic. Timothy was described as an outgoing boy who was athletic and well-liked.

On a cool March evening, Timothy King left his Birmingham home with 30 cents he borrowed from his older sister, Catherine, and headed to the corner store. He wanted some candy and it wasn't rare for him to make this trip of about three blocks. He left with his skateboard and football, headed toward the Hunter-Maple Pharmacy.

Tim's older brothers -- he had two -- were not around. One was babysitting a neighbor's kids while the other was rehearsing for a school play. Tim’s parents were out to dinner at a nearby Birmingham restaurant.

A clerk, Amy Walters, said she sold Tim candy and he left through the back door into a dark parking lot around 8:30 p.m.. Birmingham Police Chief Jerry Tobin said "whatever happened to Tim happened between the time he left the store and before he got home. It doesn’t look particularly good at this time."

This was now the seventh child that had gone missing in the area. The six prior to Timothy had been found -- murdered. Tim was only the second boy. The hysteria was at an all-time high. According to Catherine, Tim's sister, Tim asked that she leave the front door ajar, so when he got back from the store he could get back in easily.

Catherine also left for the night. It would have been the first time little Timmy would be home alone at night for any period of time. Timothy’s parents got back to the house around 9 p.m. to find the door ajar, but there was no sign of Tim.

The King family searched everywhere for Tim. They called his friends, searched the neighborhood and surrounding area. By 9:15 a.m. the next day, Chief Tobin called on the task force, requesting their full involvement. By the afternoon -- the day after Timmy went missing -- headquarters were established in the Adams Fire House, just a few blocks from the King family home. Door-to-door searches were conducted and classmates questioned.

Tim was abducted on a Wednesday. By Thursday, 100 lawmen from Oakland County, volunteers, Oakland County Sheriff's investigators, the county helicopter and the special Oakland County Task Force all were scouring the area. That Thursday the Kings stayed behind closed doors most of the day, but did say “we very much want Tim to come home." That was Barry, Tim’s father.

"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.” Barry said. 

Barry told reporters that the week before Tim told his mother that he wouldn’t speak to strangers, that "he’d run away from them." 

"It’s awful,” said a neighbor of the King family who also had an 11-year-old daughter. "When it happens to other people, you feel sympathy. When it strikes your neighborhood, you’re scared."



The blue Gremlin and suspect sketch

Eventually a woman came forward with some vital information. She said she saw Tim talking to a man in the pharmacy parking lot. She said Tim and the man were about two car-lengths away from her. She was able to describe the man she saw talking to the boy, whom she believed to be Timothy King. This witness also described the vehicle she believed the man to be driving; a dark-blue AMC Gremlin with a white stripe on its side, she called it a "hockey stick" stripe.

Police say the man described by witnesses was between 25 and 35 years old, white, with a dark brown hair cut in a shag style. He had muttonchop sideburns, a fair complexion and a husky build. He was driving a late model blue AMC Gremlin with whitewall tires. 

Police also said they suspected Tim was abducted by one or possibly two men, and that person -- or people -- could have been involved in the other six cases of murdered children from the area.

"We suspect we’re dealing with a sophisticated, intelligent, educated man," said Chief Tobin. 

Tobin also said the man was “the type of person a child would trust instinctively" -- a chilling thought for everyone in the community. 

As seemingly everyone in the area was involved in the search for Timothy, Barry King decided he would make a public plea to his son’s abductors, which he did on local TV. 

"We’ve been realistic about the problem (the possibility of abduction) since it happened,” Barry King said, "I want to say 'Hi' to Tim. We love you. Stay tough. Say your prayers and we’re with you, buddy."

Barry King also made a personal plea from the Birmingham Police Department: “I don’t know if you have children, or if you want them. Please treat Tim the same way you would your own child. Talk to him, he’s a talkative kid. I don’t know if you have a brother or want one, but Cathy, Chris and Mark (Tim’s brothers and sister) said to treat him just like you would a brother. But we want him back. Please send him.”

Tim was never sent home. That never happened. Instead, on March 23, 1977 on a dirt road in Livonia, just a short distance away from a very busy intersection, a motorist found Timothy King. He was dead in a ditch, wearing the same clothes he had on when he left for the pharmacy a week earlier. About 15 feet away from his body was his skateboard.

Michigan State Police Sgt. Joe Krease was asked if this appeared to be the work of a child killer who had killed before.

"There is a great similarity, yes," said Krease. 

Autopsy reports showed whoever had Tim took care of him. They fed him his favorite meal, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and cleaned and groomed him thoroughly before they suffocated him. But they also raped him while he was held captive.

Officials said this was the most intensive investigation ever conducted by the county and its authority figures, which is a pretty big deal when you consider they were at the forefront of the Jimmy Hoffa case.

To this day Tim’s father, Barry, actively seeks the truth. He’s spent thousands and thousands of dollars obtaining information and documents through the Freedom of Information Act.



Other possible victims

Cynthia Rae Cadieux

  • 16 years old
  • Hometown: Roseville, Mich. 
  • Last seen: 8:20 p.m. Jan. 15, 1976
  • Body found: 1:05 a.m. Jan. 16, 1976 in Bloomfield Township, Mich. 

Roseville, Mich. in the 1970s was a town of about 60,000 people. Sitting on the Detroit border in Macomb County, it is considered to be part of the region's east side. It’s a blue-collar area filled with working families. One of those families was the Nelem/Cadieux family.

Cynthia Cadieux lived with her mother and stepfather. She attended Roseville High School, which was within walking distance from her home. Even though the school was close, one of her friends, Rose DeStesafano, offered to give her a ride home. On a cold January day in 1976, Rose offered Cynthia a ride.

"Cynthia refused, just like she always does," said DeStesafano.

That decision decision may have been a fatal mistake.

The date was Jan. 15, 1976, and Cynthia walked, not to her mother and stepfather’s home, but to a girlfriend’s house. It was a planned visit. In fact, her parents thought Cynthia was spending the night there, but the girls didn’t think so. Cynthia planned to go home that Thursday night. Police were able to verify that she'd made it to the friend’s house that evening. They were also able to figure out she’d left he friend’s home around 8 p.m., presumably heading back home. Her body would later be found that night -- technically morning in Bloomfield Township, which is about 26 miles away.

At 1:05 a.m. Jan. 16, a driver noticed something on the side of the road. What the person saw was the naked, lifeless body of Cynthia Rae Cadieux. It appeared that her skull was crushed by a blunt instrument. Police revealed Cynthia was raped and sodomized -- possibly by more than one person.

This case was looked at under a microscope that was designed to find the link or links between several other dead children in the Oakland County area.

Sheila Srock

  • 14 years old
  • Hometown: Birmingham, Mich. 
  • Last seen: 8:20 p.m. Jan. 19, 1976
  • Body found: Jan. 19, 1976

Birmingham is "the place" most consider to be the model community in southeastern Michigan. It's a place everyone wanted to live, but most couldn't afford. Those who knew of Birmingham would never have associated it with violence or crime, but that would change Jan. 19, 1976.

January in Michigan is a cold time and place, usually snow-covered. That’s why a resident on Villa Street was shoveling snow from his roof a little after 8 p.m. Monday. While he was up there, he saw something through a neighbor’s window -- something horrible. 

Inside the next house over was 14-year-old Shiela Srock. She was babysitting her brother’s baby while he was out. Shiela and the baby were upstairs, likely playing. At the same time a dark figure slithered in and out of homes in the neighborhood, stealing anything and everything he could. Eventually this intruder found himself on the doorstep of Shiela’s brother’s house. He rang the doorbell, and there was no answer. From there he popped the lock open and made his way in. The neighbor was able to see him as he ran into Shiela, gun drawn. The robber was upset that he didn’t find anything of value and that now he’d been seen. According to police, the robber had Shiela remove her clothing. He then raped her, sodomized here and ultimately killed her.

The neighbor apparently saw much or all of these horrible actions. Obviously, he didn't have a cell phone in 1976, so he couldn't call for help right away since he was on the roof.

The assailant was described as a thin, white man between 18 and 25 years old, who stood about 6 feet tall. He had a prominent nose and a pointed chin, according to witnesses. The attacker’s car also was identified. He drove away in a 1967 Cadillac. People at the crime scene said the killer mingled and chatted with onlookers. He asked questions about what was going on as he subtly fit into the crowd. 

Man confesses to killing Srock

In March 1976, Oliver Rhodes Andrews confessed to and later was convicted of the murder of Srock. He is serving a life sentence in prison. According to a March 4, 1976 report from the Ludington Daily News, Andrews was wanted for questioning "in some 200 burglaries in several states."

"(He) admitted in a four-hour confession late Monday that he raped the girl and shot her five times when they babysitter surprised him as Andrews broke into a home he thought was empty," reads the report. 

Jane Louise Allan

Jane Louise Allan was a 14-year-old girl from Royal Oak. She was considered a runaway because she had done so five times before. She was last seen hitchhiking along I-75 in Pontiac on Aug. 7, 1976. Her body was found in a lake in Miamisburg, Ohio five days later.

Police said she died from carbon monoxide poisoning after being kept in the trunk of a car.



About the killer, or killers

All related killings happened on days that it snowed. All children were last seen within a mile of Woodward Avenue between 9 Mile and 15 Mile roads. All children were fed and cared for.

The killer(s) either bathed them or made them bathe. Both male victims had rope burns on his wrists and ankles.

A psychological profile created by police described the killer as fanatically clean, smart and sexually abnormal. The big lead police had -- even as of March 24, 1977 -- was the witness who saw Timothy
King speaking with a man inside a blue AMC Gremlin.

Suspect profile

The Oakland County Task Force released the following suspect profile on March 16, 1977: 

  1. Male
  2. 20-30 years old
  3. Above average education
  4. Above average intelligence
  5. Caucasian
  6. Ability and capacity to store child for at least 18 days
  7. Homosexual.
  8. Plus mental problems.
  9. Compulsively clean -- fanatically so.
  10. No substance abuse involving drugs or alcohol
  11. Different (stranger ranger)
  12. Work -- schedule
  13. December-January, vacation off work
  14. Clean car, clean house
  15. Single dwelling -- attached garage, cost above $30,000
  16. Prior contact with police
  17. Seeing psychiatrist
  18. White collar job, 9-5 schedule
  19. Area of southern Oakland County
  20. Wants bodies found

Task force case summary in 1977

The following is a summary of special projects carried out by the Oakland County Special Task Force in 1977. This was prepared by 1st Lt. Robert H. Robertson, of the Michigan State Police, and Jerry J. Tobias, youth officer for Southfield Township police. 

Here is their 1977 summary report on the Oakland County Child Killer case: 

Homicide investigations are, at best, difficult to work on and the Oakland County child murders are certainly no exception. The seemingly meaningless taking of these young lives and the lack of witnesses to the abductions make the investigator's plight both tedious and frustrating.

The main thrust of the present investigation centers on thousands of routine "tips" called or written in by interested citizens and law enforcement personnel offering information on individuals whose behavior would suggest, according to the tipster, that they be investigated. Each of these tips requires hours, sometimes days, and often weeks of intensive follow-up work. It is not uncommon for tip information to come in at such a rate that investigators are unable to keep up with it.

Thus, with the investigators busily involved in tip follow-up work, the Command Staff put into operation a number of special projects which they felt would both generate additional significant information and, at the same time, support the investigators in their efforts.

The Special Projects

To date, eight projects have been put into operation. Each has been given a special name to identify its purpose. These include: (I) Operation Observation; (2) Operation Victimization; (3) Operation Lure; (4) Operation Family Background; (5) The Investigator's Interview Guide; (6) Operation Unsolved Homicides-Nationwide and Worldwide; (7) Operation Burial Ritual; and (8) Operation Back-Up and Support. For greater clarity, each of these projects will be described in terms of its specific purpose, background, and the methods and/or procedures used.

OPERATION OBSERVATION

Purpose Operation Observation was initiated shortly after March 17, 1977, to encourage specific groups to be alert to both the profile of the alleged offender and the picture of the witness or suspect as described by those witnesses who observed him at the scene of the last abduction. Originally, the data included a picture and description of the missing youth; however, after his death it was modified to include only the profile and picture as described above. It was hoped that in presenting this data to these groups it might further the investigative efforts of the Oakland County Task Force.

Background

It was decided that the operation could best be accomplished by utilizing those groups of people who come in close contact with the public and were able to observe them on a daily basis in the southeastern Michigan area. This included such organizations as: 1) United States Postal Service employees, 2) meter readers; 3) utility repairman, 4) bank tellers, and 5) real estate people.

On March 18, 1977, contact was made with officials of the U.S. Post Office in Royal Oak, Michigan. When told of the project and its purpose, they agreed to participate in the program. A similar meeting was held at the Birmingham City Hall on March 21,1977, with utility company representatives, and they, too, agreed to Join the project. Subsequently, all the groups mentioned became involved in the effort.

Method

Each group was asked to distribute a flyer to its employees describing the profile of the alleged offender with a composite drawing of the latter or a witness seen in the area, with instructions as to how to deal with the situation should they observe the subject. For the most part, the profile was presented in the following manner:

The community needs your help. The Oakland County Special Task Force is looking for a person who has committed several child murders. You may have come in contact with this subject it is the Task Force's feeling that he has the following profile:

He is:

  • A male and may be living with another male
  • Between 20 to 35 years
  • Caucasian
  • Has the capacity to store or keep his victim for at least 18 days
  • He has kept the victim during the following periods of time:
    • March 16, 1977 - March 23, 1977;
    • January 2, 1977 - January 20, 1977;
    • December 22, 1976 - December 26, 1976;
    • February 15, 1976 - February 19, 1976;
  • He has freedom of movement
  • He has no problems with his sexual adjustment; he may have difficulty relating to members of the opposite sex and adults
  • He relates to young people well
  • He could be someone that may have some in contact with you.

A picture of the alleged offender or witness accompanied the profile and a brief statement, as follows:

"This is a composite drawing and description of the man thought to be involved in the recent abduction and murder of an 11-year-old youth in Birmingham.”

At the bottom of each flyer was an action statement indicating what was to be done if anyone had any information about the subject:

"If you have any information, please notify your LocaI Police, Sheriff, or State Police Post or call collect, (313) 644-3400, Birmingham Police Department, 151 Martin Street, Birmingham, Michigan 48011."

OPERATION VICTIMIZATION

Purpose

Project Victimization began on March 1, 1977. It was aimed at locating the various sexual offenses committed and reported to local police agencies in the southern Oakland County community. It was hoped that by making this inquiry, information might be obtained about the offender's unsuccessful activities or prior contacts with the police. In so doing, this data, when analyzed, might shed greater insight into the offender's actions and his identity.


Named suspects and persons of interest

Christopher Busch

Christopher Busch was a convicted pedophile who lived in Bloomfield Hills and killed himself in 1978. For decades, victims' family members had believed Busch could have been the killer. 

In 1977, Gregory Greene, 27, was arrested on child sexual assault charges. Greene led investigators to 26-year-old Busch, telling them Busch killed Stebbins. However, Busch and Green both passed polygraph examinations. Greene was convicted and sentenced to life in prison for sexually assaulting young boys. Busch first got probation for the same charges before ultimately killing himself.

However, in 2012 it was revealed that there is zero evidence suggesting Busch is the Oakland County Child Killer. His DNA does not match the physical evidence that investigators have. 

"Whatever evidence that may or may not exist does not come back to Busch," said Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper.

Police sources had told WDIV that Busch's suicide scene was suspicious and may have been a murder. They know he had a drawing of a tortured boy that closely resembled victim Mark Stebbins. Ropes were found in his closest. He had a blue Vega car which looked like the infamous blue Gremlin spotted at one of the abductions.

It was later revealed by investigators that Busch was in custody while police investigated the killings and admitted he was a pedophile. Investigators wanted to keep him in jail but he was let go after he agreed to a plea deal.

However, none of that matters now after investigators said Busch did not commit the murders. 

"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 Paul Walton, chief assistant Oakland County prosecutor.

Chis King, Timothy King's brother, said he thought Busch was involved because the suicide scene photos show potential evidence linked to the cases. One photograph shows the drawing that was pinned on Busch's wall, which closely resembles Stebbins.

View here: Photos of Christopher Busch's suicide scene

The photographs also show ropes that appear to have blood on them and a shotgun shell. However, the shotgun shell in Busch's room cannot be matched with the caliber used to kill Jill Robinson.

"They even took it to NASA to try and see if they could get an identification of the caliber and there was no way in which they could do that," said Cooper.

Prosecutors also said they tracked down the scientist who analyzed the ropes found at the home of suspect Busch.

"He conclusively told us that he was aware of these facts and that had there been any blood on that rope or ligature he would have sent it on to the evidence unit," said Walton.

James Vincent Gunnels

At one point investigators said James Vincent Gunnels was the best lead in the decades-old serial killer mystery. His DNA is a mitochondrial DNA match to a hair found on the body of victim Kristine Mihelich. A mitochondrial match means the hair belongs to Gunnels or a male relative on his mother's side. 

In 2012 Gunnels told WDIV that he had nothing to do with the child killings.

"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. "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."

After WDIV spoke with Gunnels, he decided he wanted to speak to the victim's family face-to-face. He reached out to the King family.

"When the request first came in, I was hesitant to go," said Chris King. "I felt it would be too hard to be in the same room as a suspect in this case. It's clearly theoretically possible that he somehow aided in (Kristine Mihelich's) abduction, or killing."

The King family contacted police who have questioned Gunnels on several occasions. According to police records, Gunnels failed a lie detector test. They wondered what Gunnels might say to the family.

"We weren't sure what to expect," Chris King said. "But we had just been told to ask open-ended questions, see what he says, listen to his story. Um, who knows. He might be able to shed some light on, or tell us something he hadn't before."

It wouldn't be easy. Chris King took his father Barry King along with him to the meeting with Gunnels.

"It was grueling," Chris King said. "My dad is a lot tougher than I am. I found it exhausting, you know, mentally and physically."

Barry King said Gunnels' story wasn't off-the-wall, but not exactly promising. 

"I believe that the story he told Chris and I was believable," Barry King said. "But it was contradicted by previous stories that he has told other people."

Gunnels told the Kings that Bush was a child predator who lived in Oakland County at the time.

"It seems clear that he must have had at least some knowledge of the crimes," Chris King said.

However, Gunnels denied knowing anything about the Oakland County Child Killings.

"I say right now I have no idea what that man did to anyone else," Gunnels said.

Chris King asked him about two polygraph tests.

"My questions for him were, you know it's hard to understand you tried to cheat on one polygraph exam and failed a second polygraph exam," Chris King said. "So, if you had absolutely no involvement or knowledge of these crimes, why would you feel that you had to cheat in the first place and then why would you fail the second one? It doesn't make sense."

Gunnels told the Kings that he felt terrible.

"I couldn't imagine having that happen and not knowing all those years," Gunnels said. "I really really couldn't."

Chris and Barry King have been going the extra mile to try and solve the case, not knowing if they have done any good.

"It was kind of a long shot that it would help," Chris King said. "But law enforcement said, 'Who knows. Sometimes these guys have remorse and they end up telling you things.' So, we went with that hope."

Theodore Lamborgine

Theodore Lamborgine and his partner in crime, Richard Lawson, were part of a 1970s sex ring that preyed on young boys in Detroit's Cass Corridor. Out of the five men involved, Lamborgine and Lawson were the only two living members of that ring when they were charged in 2006. Lamborgine faced 19 counts of sexually assaulting children, while Lawson faced 28 similar charges. 

Lawson, who was already serving a life sentence for murder, told WDIV in 2006 that he knows who the Oakland County Child Killer is. WDIV later obtained documents detailing molestations of many children in the 70s and 80s. Three new names of suspects in the investigation were listed and one of those names matched the one Lawson gave as the Oakland County Child Killer. The name Lawson gave was Bobby Moore, one of the deceased members of the sex ring. Investigators said they were looking into all of those people. 

Investigators also said they did not believe Lamborgine or Lawson to be the killer, but they did think the men had valuable information that could help solve the case. 

Lamborgine is serving a life sentence at Kinross Correctional Facility in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. 

Archibald Edward Sloan

In July 2012, Prosecutor Cooper discussed Archibald Edward Sloan and his 1966 Pontiac Bonneville. A hair found in the car is a DNA match to evidence at two of the crime scenes -- Mark Stebbins' and Timothy King's. The hair is not his but police believe it belongs to an acquaintance. 

Sloan is reportedly the owner of the car where the hair was found. Prosecutors were considering him an accomplice to the suspect. He could be a direct link to whoever the killer is, prosecutors said.

It is believed Sloan worked at a garage or gas station near 10 Mile and Middlebelt roads during the time of the Oakland County Child Killer murders. Seven years after the death of Timothy King, Sloan was arrested again. He was charged with two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. The offense took place in October 1983. He was sentenced to life in prison in January 1985. 

Sloan, 77, is serving his life sentence at the Gus Harrison Correctional Facility in Adrian, Mich.


Other theories

There is a list of other theories and claims that investigators have spent the decades sorting through. At one point a man going by the name "Allen" claimed his roommate, "Frank," was the Oakland County Child Killer. Allen wrote letters to police describing his involvement with Frank, who he said abducted children

Another man, who goes by the alias "Bob," has confronted investigators and prosecutors claiming he has information that could uncover the killer. Bob even accused prosecutors and investigators of mishandling the case. He claimed that his own team of investigators suspect there actually were 10-16 victims.


'Child Killer' docuseries

WDIV has been working on a documentary series that explores these theories and where the investigation is now.

You can watch it here (click here).

Tip line

Anyone with information on this case should contact investigators at 833-784-9425.