In the 1970s the affluent neighborhoods around Detroit Michigan were terrorized by a child killer but were the four murders connected to a bigger conspiracy across the state and possible across the nation?
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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
This episode is brought to you by PNC Bank from
your buying habits, to green energy tax. The real estate industry is constantly changing, but there's an easy way for agents and their clients to stay on top of it. All PNC asian allies get access to complementary webinars with industry leaders read about the most current topics on the PNC, realistic news, feed and much more, it's all online and at no cost to you good at PNC, dot, com, slash Asian Alliance, PNC Bank, National Association, member Fdic PNC is an equal housing, lender, hi crime, junkies, I'm your host, Ashley flowers and for the next couple of weeks. It's just me. Brett is gonna, be taking an extended vacation from recording. She gets to relax and soak up
I'm with her kids, but I knew if I didn't come back, I would have an army of writing crime junkies on my hand, so I put together a story for you, a really big story. That's going to take me two weeks to tell now I started with requests from listeners to cover the Oakland,
child killer in Michigan, but the more I dug I realized it was a much bigger conspiracy and just a warning for those who want to proceed with this episode. It deals almost exclusively with crimes against children. I would caution you before
forward, but if you can handle it- and I won't be going in ten gruesome detail, I encourage you to listen because the
Families, an law enforcement believe that someone listening could hold the key to break this case wide open
in the late 1970s. A very wealthy and prominent Michigan man named Francis Sheldon bought a small island off the Northwest coast of Michigan, a tiny piece of land. You would miss on a map if you weren't looking for it when he originally bought the property. He
old people that he was going to renovate it and add vacation homes, but when all was said and done, paperwork signed
he handed over plans changed Francis who's friends called him Frank held off on the luxury homes for a while. Instead, he wanted to connect with his friend Gerald. There might be something else they could do with the property, something I think Frank and
to do from the time that he bought it. You see Gerald was a gym teacher, but not just a gym teacher. He was also a magician, a natural path, an arm chair photographer and he actually learned his photography skills by helping to take mug shots at the police station, where his father was employed as an office,
when he was an adult and married with kids of his own, he took up a job at a pornography store to make some extra money, but he kept it a secret that, even after his time there ended he continued in the business. He had learned a lot about the customers distributorless, and he knew there was a demand he wanted to make films of his own and he began to venture into Ecd or side of pornography.
The legal side we're not graffiti involving children. I believe that it was more than just Gerald client demands that got him into this business. He began assaulting one of his twelve year old, neighbors and
Gerald believed that they were in love. As someone with the sick, mind of a predator. Might this boy, along with a handful of others, would be the victims Gerald would used to produce his pictures and his films now here and this entire operation off of a mailing list that was incredibly secretive and, as he got deeper and deeper into this depraved world, he found there were communities for people like him before the internet. These people were still finding each other. There was a publication back in the 70s called better life monthly that was run out of California. It was a publication supporting what
call man, boy love, and this is an idea that grown men should be able to sexualize and assault young boys of any age because they say they are in love and it should be accepted. And if you think this is crazy, this is still going.
In two day in two thousand and nineteen and there's an organization who actually advocates for these kind of files. But in the seventies, better life monthly was one of the top publications for this group
people and they had classified ads where men from all over the country,
even the world could connect share information and trade materials Gerald was looking for a business partner. His operation was growing, so he placed an ad and he got a reply from a man he'd screened for four months, a man who had a small, isolated island away from law enforcement and away from prying eyes, and this is how to monsters found each other. Together, they decided to open a camp for troubled boys. Only five
five six boys each session, so they could really focus on their reform. Air quotes reform. They were praised by the community and the even receive government subsidies and grants for their work. But what the government was really funding was a child sex and pornography ring parents would drop their kids off.
Michigan Beach line, or sometimes they would be taken away with permission right from the school. Where Gerald worked, then Frank would take them away in his private
to an island where no one could get them, even if they wanted to past victims.
These two men, along with other conspirators, would bring the boys up there and there was no camp, no organized activities, no reform. The boys were able to roam free until it was what they called picture time where they were forced to pose for pictures or be sexually assaulted. On film, in addition to the film prominent men were brought into the island and whatever they wanted, the boys had to give them. They knew they didn't, have a choice:
some of them were allegedly doctors executives, even politicians, powerful men who all knew about and participated in these crimes against children. Many of the boys who would later talk about the unspeakable crimes perpetrated against them blame themselves for not speaking up. They hold shame and guilt. That should not be there shame or guilt. They were children who were scared, confused and manipulated by older people in power. They were the victims, the attacks continued on these buoys until
port Huron MI, where Gerald lived in eight year old victim was so brutally violated that he had to go to the hospital and when he was able to talk to police, he identified his attacker as Gerald Richards and his partner Frank. He told them everything about Gerald about Frank about the camp and another victim also came forward to name them both as his attacked. Her and police began to uncover, not just a pet
file or two, but a larger nightmare. By the time they realize the connection to Fox Island and Frank Frank has cleared out of his Ann Arbor home and fled the country in his private plane. The other men connected to the camp fled as well. However, it would seem, like very little effort, was put in
tracking them down. Gerald was arrested in July of nineteen. Seventy six and in August there's a report that the prosecutor wanted to wait to arrest Frank until the investigation was complete
so little time goes by then in September. There's another report and the prosecutor's office is contacted basically as a request to like put out an arrest warrant for the other accomplices
and the prosecutors office says. Oh, we haven't got around to it because the workload and now to me
you know what your workload is? I get like all cases are important, but a giant prostitution ring or
ographie rain with children. You would think should take a priority
but it's still not when, in October someone tries to follow up and see. What's going on with the arrests, an they're told that it seems that in air the request
or arrest records or like a warrant for their arrest had been completely closed and it had to be reopened. So
no one was following up on it. It had never been issued in the first place and it seems like it's just getting buried by the
time. They got their warrant for Frank and his accomplice. They were long gone as well as anything they might have had in their possession any incriminating evidence and, more importantly, the client list, or who might
even working for now. I bet there were names on that client list that could buy protection or maybe even buy a stall in the investigation time for friend to get away, because what reporters and investigators uncovered is that the camp on North Fox Island
wasn't the only of its kind, an it wasn't a stand alone operation. It was connected to a network of other camps or houses for wayward boys across the
Three, even a boy scout troop in New Orleans that was busted after accusations of nearly twenty sexual assaults, but what they did find just scratched the surface. People close to this case believe this was connected to something so much bigger. There are groups like this being busted all of the time back then, and now just look at the Franklin scandal that happened in the ten years after this Fox Island bust, and it was very similar to this now. While the major client list was gone with Frank, they were able to track other men to the camp. Who were you know? Air quotes sponsors of the program, one
was a principal of an elementary school of Social Services, employee university employees. Of course, all of these men claim to not know what they were really donating to, but that's not how it worked according to Gerald. According to him for charitable donations, you have full access to the island and the
there like they're, only going to take money from men who are in on their scheme. Now, despite having proof that this was a child, sex trafficking and pornography ring Gerald was out of prison in less
ten years, Frank was thought to be living somewhere in the Netherlands, but never brought back for prosecution and the other men involved were never located and the story just went away like I had never heard about that, and it seems absolutely crazy that I had never heard about this. But the bigger papers didn't pick up the story. It stayed mostly local, mostly covered up, possibly because there were people making sure it didn't get out, but also because there was another big story: breaking closer to Michigan's metropolitan City of Detroit. The Oakland County child killings,
Now, at the time right, when the Fox Island story broke again only in the small local papers down in bustling Detroit in the surrounding neighborhoods, they were more focused on the murder of a young child. Earlier that year, on February 15th, one thousand nine hundred and seventy six,
a twelve year old boy named Mark Stebbins, had been visiting his mom at a local American Legion Hall where she worked as a bartender. No, she worked as a couple of blocks from their home, so after awhile Mark said, he was ready to go home. There was a war movie coming on that he did not
want to miss. He was a little marine in the making and he was obsessed with his toy soldiers and anything on tv that fed into this fantasy of one day.
Serving in the military,
I had no problem with him walking the three blocks to his home. Without his brother, it was daylight and he made the trip many times before an hour or so later Marx brother followed his path and made his own way home. But when he arrived Mark, wasn't there and that's exactly what he told
his mom, when she phone to follow up and make sure they were both home safe. His mom immediately worried about mark and stones, nine hundred and eleven the operator, of course, of trying to keep her calm. It's probably nothing. It's a really good area. There hasn't been a kidnapping here in like ten years. She says it will be fine, but it wasn't. Fine police eventually do a door to door search with no sign of mark like he disappeared into thin air, but four days later, Mark reappeared in a different city than he's gone missing it, but not too far away his little boy
it was found in a snow bank near a short brick wall behind a shopping center. A man walking his dog had come across it initially. Thinking that it was a mannequin now mark was fully clothed in the exact same outfit that he went missing in an evident
from looking at him were rope burns on his neck wrists and ankles. But an autopsy revealed something interesting now it show that Mark had been sodomized and suffocated, but it appeared that whoever took him in their own sick way tried to take care of him. He was fed and before being placed in the snow Bank, his body had been a coal
and and redressed. Now, when I say this person was like taking care of him, I don't mean this person actually cared for mark. I think, whoever it was maybe fed Mark out of necessity, an likely use the bath as a way to remove evidence. But this was something police and the public hadn't seen before back in the 70s, and I don't think they knew what to make of it. Back then, now almost right away, detective is looking into marks. Murder get a tip from a local parole officer. He says: hey, take a look at this guy
Archibald Sloan. He got in trouble back in Pennsylvania for sodomy and now he's living here in Michigan working as a tow truck driver. So they go talk to this guy, but there isn't a whole lot that he gives and there's nothing really to connect into the scene. So they can't arrest him, but they do take some tape. Samples from the inside of his car, which literally just means they take pieces of tape, strategically dab areas of his car like seats and floor boards to hopefully pick up, fibers or hairs or whatever, and then they put.
Those samples into evidence and just keep going with their investigation, but even though they try and move forward, there wasn't a whole lot to move along to before
marks case went as cold as the snow. He was found in
then in July of that same year the Fox Island case broke now truthfully. I
I think anyone on marks case made any kind of connection if they even knew about it at all, because again remember it was really not getting a lot of press, especially in the bigger cities, but something significant happened after the camp was shut down. Suddenly, the merge
there's a children around the affluent neighborhoods of Detroit started to happen more frequently on December 22nd of nineteen seventy six, a twelve year old girl named Jill Robinson
gotten into a fight with her mother, about setting the dining room table or like getting ready for dinner, and her mom was just fed up with the constant back talking and bickering.
You finally told her daughter, if you don't like being here, then put on your coat sit outside and come back when you're ready to be here and Joe said fine, but she had other plans. She wasn't going to sit outside in the cold. She was going to ride her bike to her dad's house just a few miles away, so she got on her,
Packed a little bag and took off on her bike, but she never made it to her dad's and wherever she did.
That night. I bet she did wish. She was back at home, helping her mom with dinner. Her bike was found the next day in town, but it would take a few more days before anyone could find Jill. Her sisters left all the press.
Unopened under their tree when Christmas morning came and then went they wanted to wait for gel to open them to the day after Christmas, though her body was found along,
interstate, seventy five in another town, the scene was a lie,
more gruesome than marks. Jill had actually been shot in the face with a shotgun while lying face up in the snow. Now, no one can figure out how someone could have shot a little girl on the side of the road like that. Without being seen, but no one saw a thing, she had been washed clothed and fed just like Mark had, but I don't think police were making any kind of connection to mark at the time, not only because the killings at least seem so different at first glance, but because
for law enforcement agencies involved. At this point, the police were mark, went missing the ones where he was found, the one for Joe went missing and the ones where she was found all four different places and all four different agencies. Now, additionally, from the autopsy findings Jill had no,
been sexually assaulted and in their minds? These killings were different and almost a year apart, horrible tragic cases, but not the work of one man, but it didn't take another year for another kid to go missing on Sunday January. Second, nineteen,
Seventy seven, just a week after Joe's body was found. A ten year old girl in a neighboring town named Chris Mahalic, had been helping. Her mom take down the Christmas decorations that afternoon and when they finished around three hundred o'clock, she asked her mom if she could go down to the seven hundred and eleven store to buy a magazine and her mom wasn't super into this idea. She would have to cross a major road to get there and it just didn't feel really safe, not for a ten year old but
Chris laid into her mom with the guilt trip. The same way I used to try and do to get what I wanted but mom. I helped you all day with the decorations. I did you a favor. I deserve to go,
and after some prodding and I'm sure a little lining. Chris mom reliance fine. She says you can go if you promise to cross the street at the light. I promise I promise I promise so
Chris walks out the door money in hand to buy her magazine, and after about thirty minutes, her mom starts to wonder where she is. She expected her to be back by now, but
you know, maybe it's taking a little bit longer an than an hour goes by and she thinks
maybe her dad, saw her and picked her up like. I would have thought he
call that maybe not, who knows she'll be home soon, but then more time passes. But after that first hour time begins to pass even more slowly by our three. She couldn't take it anymore. She called police to report her daughter missing, and she was kind of shocked at the response. They said that they were going to put her daughters information on the news that very night- and you know she wanted the police to care
you want the police to look for, but but the news like that, a a little premature and surely this is all a misunderstanding right, but when Chris wasn't home the next day, she
knew it was more than that police learned that Chris did make it to the seven hundred and eleven the clerk remembered selling her the magazine. She left
phone and someone who knew her even said they remembered seeing her walking back in that direction of home. But something happened before she could get there. Chris is family would have the longest wait. Nineteen days of agony and questioning nineteen days of imagining the apps
salute worst before a mailman spotted something off the road. It was young Chris lying dead, partially covered in snow now in law enforcement officers and a minister came knocking on Chris's home door. Her mother knew right away that it was the worst possible news when they did her autopsy. It revealed that she'd been suffocated, but not sexually assaulted. She died less than twenty four hours after being discovered and she been fed and washed just like the other kids, and at this point now, if we're counting. This is six law enforcement agencies involved. But despite any confusion, they can all see the pattern and they come today.
To form a task force that included all of the involved agencies and even some who didn't have a victim in the case, but wanted to make sure that whoever was doing this never made it to their city. The task force wasn't the only one who are piecing this together, the public was taking
The media was taking notice and there was almost a full blown hysteria that there was a serial killer now on the loose. The task force has a tip line. That was publicized with many of the news reports and tip start coming in left and
Everyone is expecting people in their lives, people that they know, but there is one tip that stands out:
a man named Greg. Green was a pedophile have been arrested for assaulting a boy in Flint MI, and he said he never worked alone. He often had a partner and his partner had been responsible for killing the first victim mark. His partner's name was Chris Bush, not a squeaky, clean guy. When they check Chris out in his house, they find a suitcase
full of magazine cutouts. All pictures of young children, eight millimeter film, reels depicting child pornography along with ropes and shotguns, both things suspected of being used in the different cases. When police question Chris, he admits to being obsessed with young children and being
had a file. He even admits to picking up victims in and around the same areas that these kids went missing. He would work with green to do this and the two used to fantasize about like the perfect way to do this, where they would eat
Work different shifts one day, one night, so somebody was always with their victim, but he says that they didn't kill anyone police ask him an green to each take a polygraph. Now back in a time before DNA,
the polygraph was heavily relied upon as an investigative tool like the end all be all of someone passed they move on. If they do.
Maybe there was more there and they had to keep investigating, and we all know now that polygraphs can be deceptive in both ways. Sometimes guilty men pass and sometimes innocent, don't, but it was what it was back then, so they give the two guys both exams and they're, told by the person who administered the exam and read the results that both men,
half past, so without any more investigation into either man they're marked, as cleared the other cleared for the murders, but not these other charges. They had both been arrested for multiple counts of child molestation and will Greg Green, was unable to post bail and was eventually sentenced to life in prison. Chris came from a very
wealthy and prominent family in town. His dad was like really high up in GM, which is kind of a big deal in Detroit, and little bit runs the city, so Chris was able to post bail and somehow, even though they were accused and charged with the exact same thing. Chris gets off with parole and just a fine, but we
after Chris gets paroled. Another young child in the area goes missing at about eight hundred and thirty pm on March 16th, nine
nine thousand. Seven hundred and eleven year old, TIM Kaine borrowed zero dollars and thirty cents, from his older sister to go, buy some candy at a local drugstore. He hopped on his skateboard, made it to the store and left through the rear entrance, never to be seen again when his parents reported him missing that very night. The entire
He was in a panic. He knew what was happening around town and everyone knew that they had a limited amount of time to find him before he ended up on the side of the road. Like the other kids before him, the search was massive for ten people on foot helicopters. Swarming over head, the state police are called in to coordinate the now seven law enforcement agencies that have a stake in this case, and there is a lead that pops up in the search for ten that would later become almost synonymous. With this case, someone said they saw to him with a man who
had sideburns, who was driving a blue Kremlin car, and they said he was like talking to them around the store that he went to that like drug store and a sketch in the picture of the car
almost immediately posted the flyers and posted up all over town, thousands and thousands of flyers. But decades later, seemingly the only thing people from all sides can agree.
One is that the blue gremlin was a red herring and meant absolutely nothing in this case at all, all of the other physical evidence they had from the scene, which was few and far between, pointed to another car entirely. Now TIM's parents tried to talk to him through
media they told him to stay strong. They were looking for him and when they did finally find him, they bring him home and serve him. His favorite meal Kentucky Fried Chicken his family bags. Whoever had him to treat him like he was their own kid or brother, be good to him and please let him come home, but that wouldn't happen on March 22nd
police announced that they were going to be stopping cars in Oakland, county and neighboring Wayne County to try and find him. But just hours before that was scheduled at about one thousand and thirty pm. Tim's body was discovered in Wayne County just like Mark he'd been sexually assaulted, with an object before his death and then was suffocated and just like the others. He had been cleaned and his clothes were even freshly washed and pressed. It looks like whoever had had him also might have been watching the news, because in TIM Stomach they found fried chicken that had been fed to him shortly before his death. As the task force tried to investigate there now fourth case they
hitting wall after wall, and they were pretty sure that all the cases were connected. But there were differences. Jill had been shot after all, and neither of the girls were sexually assaulted, but there were more similarities than DIS similarities. The fee.
In the washing and none of them seem to fight back one detective theorized that perhaps the killer,
beat them luring them into a sense that you know it was calm. They were getting cleaned up to go home,
and then when they get out of the bath, that's when he would strangle them from behind so that they never saw it coming and as for Jill,
he wonders if maybe she wasn't smothered or strangled to. According to him, sometimes the lung can hold in air after someone is strangled or suffocated, and he thinks
Maybe when the perpetrator was moving, the body she expelled some air
Looking like a moaning noise and is scared him into thinking that maybe she was alive and he had to shoot her on scene, which is why he thinks it was possibly so different know. This is only a SIRI though, and they could see her eyes themselves to death, going in circles and circles back and forth. Nothing was really moving forward them, but then something happened that
changed the trajectory of the task force in November of nineteen. Seventy eight Chris Bush was found deceased in his home. Now within twenty four hours. His case was ruled as suicide, but those who look at his death critically have a hard time figuring out exactly how authorities came to that conclusion. There was one singular bullet hole between his eyes and a shotgun laying next to him. Now most statistics would say if someone were to use a shotgun on themselves, they tend to put the barrel either in their mouth or under their chin. But for the sake of argument, let's say he did put it to his forehead. He would've probably needed.
Steady the gun between his knees, but he was tucked tightly under a blanket and though he only had one gunshot wound. There were four casings found in his bedroom and no blood spatter. Like do you hear me? No blood spatter from a self inflicted
gunshot wound, and if that weren't enough, the toxicology report said that his blood alcohol level was forty one which is off the chart, and nobody can really even understand how he would have been function,
at that point and there's more beyond that. He had no gunshot residue on his hands. So you tell me: does that sound like a suicide in his house hanging above his bed like where you'd, probably imagine you'd see blood in the place of blood spatter
police find a pencil drawing of a young boy wearing a hood and screaming out in pain. It's a horrifying image that nobody can explain, except maybe the Stebbins family. They think the picture looks a lot like their murdered son and brother Mark in addition to the drawing they also find ropes in his closet, the same kind of ropes that they think at least
three of the four kids would have been tied up with now, even though their names in the file were marked cleared, cleared, cleared everywhere cleared someone called out the Oakland County child killer task.
As for the scene, so clearly, despite official documents, there was still some suspicion surrounding Chris Bush, so they take in the scene and that's when twenty four hours
an official report comes out, but Bing Bang Boom suicide. Then, within twenty five days the Oakland County child killer task force is completely disbanded.
You guys it Brit were here. I know this is what you would say wait what, because this is crazy. A guy who you say is clear: Dan, isn't a suspect air quote
his own life, and you no longer need your task force like what
am I missing, I mean clearly there had to be suspicion of involvement, but why not go public because of his dad was like I pray to God.
The lives of for little kids and likely many more worth more than protecting a pedophile son of a rich man. But even more
sing to me is I don't think this was a suicide it doesn't fit. If this was murder, then who killed Chris? Who was worried about him talking because Chris was coming up against some new charges and maybe he was willing to make a deal and if he was what would he have said you see? Chris is involved
might have been pushed under the rug, though no one will ever say it out loud. Maybe the police considered it unofficially solved a horrible guy off the streets. I mean, after all, the killings did stop after he died, but this isn't a straight line, and this wasn't the end of the story. Chris is name would keep coming up and it would turn out that this was just one string in a very complicated web of secrets and lies
a web I will have to unravel next week. This episode, hits close to home
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Transcript generated on 2019-11-08.