In 2006 San Francisco polygraph examiner Patrick Coffey visited Sin City to deliver a presentation at the American Polygraph Association convention.
While there, entirely by chance, Coffey began chatting with fellow polygrapher Larry Wasser;
Wasser, in a random bit of happenstance, hails from Oakland County, where Coffey had been raised.
During the course of their conversation Coffey mentioned that he’d become interested in the field of polygraphy as a child
when his neighbor Tim King was abducted and murdered by the Oakland County Child Killer.
Wasser then allegedly delivered some stunning news.
“Oh, I know who killed your neighbor boy,” Wasser reportedly said.
According to Patrick Coffey
Wasser claimed he’d been conducting a private polygraph unrelated to the OCCK murders when his subject spontaneously confessed to the Babysitter’s crimes.
Though Wasser was allegedly unable to recall the subject’s name he remembered several pertinent details
which lead investigators to convicted pedophile Christopher Busch, an early suspect in the OCCK crimes.
(Addendum: it’s a misdemeanor for polygraphers to divulge information gleaned during a session
and Wasser has since denied this conversation took place.)
Busch, the son of a high-ranking General Motors executive, was the product of a privileged upbringing
which included a stint in a Swiss boarding school; at the time of the OCCK crimes Busch,
a culinary school graduate employed as a food service manager,
was living with his parents in Oakland County’s upscale Bloomfield Township.
Busch’s parents were avid travelers, and thus Busch was often left to his own devices
in the luxurious Busch homestead on Morningstar Drive. Unfortunately for all,
Busch’s devices included a predilection for sexually abusing young boys.
Busch first appeared on the OCCK investigators’ radar in 1977 during the interrogation of a pedophile named Gregory Greene, Busch’s close friend and frequent partner in crime.
Detectives were interviewing Greene regarding pedophilic activity at Brother Paul’s Children’s Mission
on nearby North Fox Island;
both Greene and Busch would eventually face charges in the Brother Paul’s case.
During this interview Greene reportedly told investigators Busch had confessed to the murder of Mark Stebbins,
generally believed to be the Babysitter’s first victim.
Although a subsequent interview with Busch failed to produce a confession to the OCCK crimes
he did provide investigators with some fairly damning information—namely, that he and Greene
often fantasized about abducting boys
and had procured jobs with opposing work schedules so that one of them would always be available
to watch over their prey. Busch also admitted to being an active pedophile,
and when asked where he’d procured his victims
Busch not only listed the very towns from which the OCCK victims had been abducted,
he reportedly listed them in the very same sequential order as the kidnappings had occurred:
Ferndale (Mark Stebbins), Royal Oak (Jill Robinson), and Berkley (Kristine Mihelich).
At the time of Busch’s interview Tim King had not yet been abducted.
To verify Busch’s lack of involvement in the OCCK crimes he was given a polygraph by Ralph Cabot,
a Michigan State Police examiner who
according to The Detroit Free Press
possessed a reputation for shoddy work product.
Busch passed the polygraph, as did Gregory Greene, and at that point the depraved duo were removed
from the short list of Babysitter suspects.
Passing the polygraph did not sever Busch’s involvement with Michigan law enforcement,
however—Busch was charged with crimes against children several times in the late 1970s.
At his last arrest Busch and Greene were concurrently charged;
Greene was held on 75K bail and ultimately given a life sentence, dying of a heart attack in his cell
at Thumb Regional Correctional Facility at the age of 45.
Lady Justice, however, was much kinder to the wealthy,
politically-connected Busch—although his bail had originally been set at 75K
on his booking sheet that sum had been penciled out
and a paltry 1K written in its place.
With the passage of nearly four decades hard facts are scarce,
but it seems undeniable that Busch’s influential family connections lubricated his dealings with the district attorney’s office; he had improbably good luck
with the Michigan justice system—despite numerous convictions
he was consistently sentenced solely to probation.
As Barry King, father of OCCK victim Tim King told a reporter from Channel Seven Action News,
“I don’t understand to this day how you can be found guilty of criminal misconduct against minors four times
and not spend a day in jail and yet your cohort, Greene, was sentenced to life in prison.”
Even this coddling by the courts couldn’t gladden Busch’s withered heart—on Nov. 20th, 1978
Busch put a .22 caliber rifle between his eyes and pulled the trigger, forever ending his sexual scourge
on the innocents of Oakland County. At the time of his death the serial pedophile was 27 years old;
his body was found in his bedroom in the Busch family home by a housekeeper.
There were several items present at Busch’s suicide scene which may have indicated an involvement
in the OCCK crimes:
shotgun shells of the same caliber that killed Jill Robinson,
bloody ligatures of the type that may have been used to bind the male victims,
and a pencil sketch of a boy with a striking resemblance to Mark Stebbins.
Chillingly, the boy in the drawing has been captured mid-scream,
his face contorted in terror,
his hood drawn up as Mark Stebbins’ had been when his body, sexually defiled and scrupulously cleaned,
was discovered in a snow-covered parking lot two years before.
So is Christopher Busch Oakland County’s long-sought child killer? Although there’s no definitive evidence
there are several provocative circumstances—Busch died within a year
of the last known OCCK crime,
which may explain the abrupt halt of the child killer’s seemingly escalating reign of terror.
Busch also drove a blue Vega hatchback with a white stripe,
a car eerily similar to the blue Gremlin seen in the vicinity of Tim King’s abduction.
And the Busch family owned a white Welsh terrier;
white animal hairs were reportedly found on the clothes of all four OCCK victims.
Furthermore, Busch had access to a secluded family cabin on Ess Lake.
During the angst-ridden six days Tim King was missing a neighbor,
aware of Busch’s history of pedophilia,
called the police to report that Busch was cavorting at the cabin with minors.
Although such circumstances would likely have been a violation of the terms of Busch’s probation
on the earlier sex charges,
there is no evidence law enforcement investigated the tip.
The most intriguing evidence against Busch, however, is a hair found on presumed Babysitter victim Kristine Mihelich;
the strand was recently revealed to be a mitochondrial DNA match to one Vincent James Gunnels,
age 16 at the time of the OCCK crimes.
Gunnels, incidentally, is one of the boys Busch was convicted of molesting.
Was Gunnel’s hair left on Kristine’s clothing by secondary transfer?
As Gunnels reportedly told investigators, he was in Busch’s car “hundreds” of times.
Or was the hair’s transference more direct?
Using victims to procure additional prey is a classic pedophile tactic,
employed most famously by Houston serial killer Dean Corll, who murdered in conjunction with
his sodomy victim-turned-apprentice Elmer Wayne Henley.
By the time Tim King was abducted every child in Oakland County had been warned about the killer in their midst;
was Gunnels the young, harmless-looking honeypot used to lure Tim to his doom?
Gunnels, who has a long history of property crimes but no sexually-related convictions,
denies knowing Kristine Mihelich or any of the other murdered children;
yet the fact that his hair was found on a presumed-OCCK victim is an undeniably curious circumstance.
It’s unclear, however, exactly how Gunnel’s strand of hair relates to the mystery hairs found in Arch Sloane’s car
(discussed in a previous blog post).
Were the female victims actually killed by a separate predator, as some message board denizens have long theorized?
If so, I can’t believe Gunnels acted alone—Kristine Mihelich was kept alive for nineteen days,
and I doubt any 16-year-old would have the means and wherewithal to successfully hide a living victim
for nearly three weeks.
Furthermore, it seems unlikely that two separate murderers were stalking the leafy streets of Oakland County
at precisely the same time, both keeping their victims alive for days
and carrying out identical post-mortem bathing rituals.
Is it possible that Chris Busch was the donor of the mystery hairs discovered in Arch Sloane’s Pontiac Bonneville?
Busch was clearly not averse to operating with a partner, as evinced by his friendship with Greene
and his involvement in the Brother Paul’s pedophile ring; fellow molesters were clearly his chums of choice.
And in the days before the Darknet where was the best place to find fellow pederasty enthusiasts?
Lurking around children, of course; and I would imagine that pedophiles of yore paid scrupulous attention
to the other adults in the vicinity, lest an eagle-eyed bystander deduce their untoward intent
and beat their diseased brains into Bisquick.
Busch and Sloane were operating in the same area at the same time and stalking the same type of prey;
it’s eminently likely their victim-strewn paths crossed at one misbegotten time or another.
Although Christopher Busch is long-dead he does have one living sibling—a brother Charles Busch.
According to The Detroit News, however,
Charles Busch has declined to provide a DNA sample
unless family members are provided entry into a “witness protection-type program.”
Although Charles Busch is certainly not responsible for his brother’s crimes
regardless of whether these crimes include murder,
I cannot imagine any decent human being would choose to protect the reputation
of a dead pedophile at the expense of providing comfort and long-sought answers
to the families of murdered children. Christopher Busch destroyed his reputation during his lifetime
by repeatedly raping children;
even four decades later, he has no honor for his brother to defend.
Interestingly, this love of secrecy appears to be a Busch family trait;
H. Lee Busch, clan paterfamilias, allegedly shredded a forest-worth of family documents,
birth certificates included,
shortly before his death in 2002 at the age of 90.
Those of us who seek an answer to the OCCK mystery are grateful DNA
can’t be so easily destroyed.