This is still a highly contentious unsolved case, with accusations flying every which way on forums and sites, so I will stick to just the basic facts. South Michigan was rocked by four child abductions and murders in Oakland County in 1976 & 1977, yet the killer or killers were never apprehended. Persons of interest were and have been developed but nobody has been charged with any of the crimes. The first victim was 12 year old Mark Stebbins of Ferndale, who left an American Legion Hall on 15th February 1976 to go home and watch TV. He never made it home. He was found four days later, on a snowbank in a car park of an office building on Ten Mile Road and Greenfield, in Southfield. Mark had been strangled and sexually assaulted with an object. He had been laid out in a very neat fashion, which has long puzzled investigators. He also had ligature marks on his wrists.
The second victim was 12 year old Jill Robinson of Royal Oak. She vanished on 22nd December 1976, after packing a bag and running away after an argument at home. Her bicycle was found the next day behind a store on Main Street. It was on 26th December that her body was found neatly laid out and fully clothed on a snowbank not far from the Troy Police Station. She had been killed with a shotgun blast to the face. The third victim was Kristine Mehelich aged 10. She vanished on 2nd January 1977 after she visited a store on Twelve Mile Road in the Oakshire district of Royal Oak. She was missing for 19 days until her body was found by a rural road in Franklin Village. Again, the body was fully clothed and neatly laid out. Kristine had been smothered.
The fourth victim was 11 year old Tim King of Birmingham. He vanished after receiving some money to go to a store to buy some candy on Marple Road. He left the store by it`s rear entrance but never returned home. This on 16th March 1977. He was found six days later, in a shallow ditch, by two teenagers that were out and about in a car. The ditch was on Gill Road, near to 8 Mile Road in Livonia. This was out of Oakland County and just inside Wayne County. Bizarrely, his clothes had been washed and ironed. He had been sexually assaulted and strangled. There was, and still is, a huge outcry over this case with claims of incompetence, cover-ups, paedophile rings and much more. So did cops develop any good suspects? Yes, they did.
One was a known paedophile called Archie Sloan. Hair fibres were found in his 1966 Pontiac that matched Tim and Mark. There was no DNA then. Sloan regularly lent his car to his paedophile buddies, so this made it difficult to make a case against him. Another suspect was also the most controversial. This known paedophile was Chris Busch, with a number of convictions for abusing boys, but a problem was that his father was a powerful executive at General Motors, who some claimed, used his money and influence to get his son of many charges. He was arrested, along with two of his friends for a catalogue of sex offences against young boys. His friends were sent to jail, whilst Busch, mysteriously, never faced charges for the same offences. Busch committed suicide in 1978, though some have said he was murdered to keep his mouth shut.
James Vincent Gunnels surfaced a few years back as a suspect due to a mitochondrial DNA match to a hair found on the blouse of victim number 3, Kristine. This DNA match does prove conclusively that Gunnels is guilty, but it does not rule him out. Gunnels was abused as a youngster by Busch, for which Busch was convicted. Did the abused become the abuser? The last suspect is Theodore Lamborgine. He was arrested by Palma Heights Police in Ohio as being part of a child porn ring. Lamborgine pled guilty to 15 charges to avoid being forced to take a polygraph over the four child murders. This sounds very suspicious indeed, but no evidence has come to light, in order to charge him.
Both boys were sexually abused but the girls were not. Is this an indication that it is two different killers? One factor linking them all is the displaying of the bodies. All neatly laid out. Virtually every killer will just dump a body, yet this person(s) take the time to display it just right. It also shows they are very familiar with the areas, and the comings and goings of people. The killer could be one who enjoys degrading the boys, but whilst enjoying the killing, does not get his jollies through abusing the girls. One was held for 19 days. This shows he, or she, is comfortable keeping them somewhere. But surely the person would have needed assistance to keep a young child for that length of time? Maybe a woman? Maybe a ring of paedos is behind it all? Each would have their own brand of perversion that needed satisfying. Speculation is endless, but the families of the victims want results, even now. They need peace of mind and closure. Let us hope they get it.