The Detroit News
Family: Police reports point to child’s killer
PROVIDING WORK FOR THE NEEDY Records allegedly link known pedophile to murder of 11-year-old Timothy King in 1977
For the last 33 years, Barry King and his family have sought to learn who killed his 11-year-old son in 1977, one of four children who were abducted and murdered in the mid-1970s in Oakland County.
For the past three years, King was convinced that he knew the answer.
And today, following the recent court-ordered release of 3,400 pages of investigative records compiled by the Michigan State Police, King says it is clear to him that Christopher Busch, a pedophile who was convicted four times of rape with a minor, was involved in the killing of Timothy King.
“I am now more convinced than ever,” King said in an interview.
But the Michigan State Police, who head a task force investigation into the crimes, decline comment. They say the investigation is still active.
The documents were released as the result of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by the King family against the State Police. A judge ordered the agency to release the investigative files. The agency has billed the King family $11,000 for the documents, though the court will ultimately decide what charges, if any, there will be. The records reveal:
Busch had been charged, and later convicted, four times in the first three months of 1977 with criminal sexual conduct with a minor in four counties: Oakland, Montmorency, Genesee and Midland. With each charge, Busch’s father, H. Lee Busch (a prominent General Motors executive) posted cash bonds to free his son. One of his victims said Busch’s mother drove to his Flint neighborhood in a limousine, offering him money if he agreed not to say anything to the police. Busch pleaded to a lesser charge and received probation in each of the four cases.
Other children molested by Busch and his companion Gregory Greene told the Oakland County Child Killings Task Force in 1977 that the two men would drive them around in their cars and would have them “lure kids closer to the car by talking to them.” One victim said he had been choked unconscious while being molested.
This victim also said he recognized photos of Timothy as being the same boy seen with Busch. He said he saw a Polaroid photo of Timothy tied up in Busch’s car.
In an Oakland County Child Killing Task Force interview about his pedophile activity, Busch is said to have listed the locations where he picked up and dropped off boys in the same chronological order that matched the abduction sites of the other three Oakland County children who were killed: Nine Mile and Woodward Avenue in Ferndale (the same location from which Mark Stebbins disappeared), 13 Mile and Woodward in Royal Oak (Jill Robinson was last seen near the Tiny Tim Hobby Center) and the 7-Eleven on 12 Mile in Berkley (where Kristine Mihelich went to purchase a teen magazine). Timothy had not yet been abducted.
On March 16, 1977, Timothy was kidnapped near a Birmingham drugstore and was found six days later alongside a road in Livonia. King said the records are proof that if Busch had been detained by police, his son might be alive today.
Busch questioned, released
Busch lived in Birmingham while the community was being terrorized by the rash of kidnappings and murders of the four children that began in February 1976 and ended with Timothy’s death on March 22, 1977. Each child’s body was clean, fully dressed and tossed by public roadsides. All were found in Oakland County except Timothy, who was found in Wayne County.
In late January 1977, Busch, then 27, was facing a rape charge in Flint and was questioned by Flint and task force investigators about the murder of Mark Stebbins, the first victim in the Oakland County child killings. According to the records, several investigators and then-Deputy Oakland County Prosecutor Dick Thompson thought Busch would be charged with the Stebbins murder, based on his criminal record and responses to investigators. But after a lie detector test was administered by Michigan State Police examiner Ralph Cabot, Busch was released.
Six weeks later, Timothy was abducted and murdered.
Busch committed suicide in November 1978. The State Police records reveal evidence left at the suicide scene that might have linked Busch to the killings was never pursued by law enforcement. The evidence included ropes and ligatures found on the floor of his bedroom closet and a drawing closely resembling first victim Mark Stebbins that hung on his bedroom wall.
“I still think it is possible there was a cover-up,” King said. “I also want to know why it took over 30 years for the Chris Busch lead to be uncovered.”
Michigan State Police Capt. Harold Love said he has no comment on the release of the records, adding: “We continue to work the case and pursue all leads.”
Reports reveal evidence
Part of the reason King and his children said they are suspicious of the investigation is because the family, not law enforcement, was responsible for bringing the Busch lead to light. Timothy’s mother, Marion, died in 2004.
In 2006, former neighbor Patrick Coffey, a licensed polygrapher, called the Kings with information that Larry Wasser, a Southfield polygrapher, had confid- ed to him that Busch had implicated himself in the child killings during a polygraph exam he conducted more than 30 years ago.
Armed with Busch’s name, Detective Sgt. Cory Williams of the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office and Detective Sgt. Garry Gray of the Michigan State Police examined the State Police records, conducted their own investigation and uncovered the circumstantial evidence tying him and Greene to the killings.
Other findings in the State Police report:
A tip was called into the Montmorency Sheriff ’s Department while Busch was at his family cottage on Ess Lake near Hillman. A woman pleaded with police to go to the cottage, saying she had seen Busch — known to her as a pedophile out on bond — in town with minors. The call came on March 19, 1977, during the time Timothy was missing, which was between March 16 and March 22. There was no indication that law enforcement acted on the tip.
A former cellmate of Greene’s told detectives Williams and Gray that Greene said “he got away with killing four kids in the past.” Greene died in prison of a heart attack in 1995. He was 45.
In early 2008, Williams enlisted three independent polygraph examiners to re-examine the original polygraphs of Busch and Greene that led to Busch’s release in the Stebbins investigation. Their findings are blocked out in the documents the King family received.
In April 2008, in an interview with the FBI in New York City, Charles Busch, Christopher Busch’s only living sibling, requested that as a condition for supplying his DNA, family members living in Michigan be allowed to enter a “witness protection-type program.” He also said that later in his life, his father, H. Lee Busch, who died at age 90 in 2002, shredded all of the family documents, including birth certificates.
Prosecutor refuses to talk
In light of this evidence, King said he feels some vindication in his pursuit of information but failure in his pursuit of justice. He said he wants to meet with Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper, but she has refused to talk with him.
“The Michigan Constitution says that crime victims have a right to confer with the prosecutor,” King said.
“I will feel like justice has been served when the Oakland County prosecutor explains to me why Busch is not guilty. I am sick and tired of a four-time convicted sexual pedophile being treated better than my family and the families of Mark Stebbins, Kristine Mihelich and Jill Robinson.”
Cooper responded in an e-mail that she cannot comment because “there is an active, open and ongoing investigation that would be compromised by the release of any information regarding Christopher Busch.”
The King family also filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Oakland County prosecutor seeking its Busch-related files. Oakland County Circuit Judge Wendy Potts decided against the Kings, saying the prosecutor’s information on Busch was “sensitive,” and disclosure of the information could interfere with the investigation. However, the judge urged the prosecutor “to communicate as openly and freely as possible with Plaintiffs and other family members of the OCCK victims.”
When asked if he felt the documents were worth $11,000, King replied: “It was Tim’s college money.”