Monday, February 06, 2017

Mystery Monday: The Oakland County Child Killer

It's Monday, which means it's time for another...



Every Monday, I'm presenting a new mystery. Today's mystery was requested by the lovely Denise.

***Warning: Today's mystery involves the deaths of children.***

The 70s were a time of awakening for many Americans. At the start of the decade, people innocently believed nothing could happen to their children. One by one, news stories emerged that shattered that innocence. In the mid to late 70s, residents of Oakland County, Michigan had their awakening.



The terror began on February 15, 1976, when 12-year-old Mark Stebbins left a party to walk home and was never seen again. His body was found four days later.



Ten months later, 12-year-old Jill Robinson left home on her bike after an argument with her mom about making biscuits. Jill had an inexplicable fear that she would be shot. It was such an issue, her mom even took her to a therapist to discuss it. Her body was found four days later...she'd been killed by gunshot.



Days later, on January 2, 1977, 10-year-old Kristine Mihelich left home to purchase a magazine at a convenience store near her home. She disappeared while walking back from the store. Her body was found 19 days later in a town seven miles away.



The final victim, Timothy King, disappeared on March 16 while on the way to buy candy at a drugstore. As he left the store, two witnesses saw a man with sideburns and long, shaggy dark hair approach him. His body was found six days later in a ditch.



In all four cases, the children weren't killed immediately. They had all been washed and their fingers and toes had been manicured. The cause of death was either suffocation or strangling, except in Jill Robinson's case. She was the only victim who had been shot.



Although there were many suspects, the murderer was never caught. Witnesses in the Timothy King abduction said the perpetrator drove a blue gremlin that looked like this:



As far as the police know, the Oakland County Child Killer never struck again. Was he arrested on another charge? Did he die? Did he simply stop committing crimes?

Or could he possibly have continued to harm children, only in a different area of the country?

57 comments:

  1. Sadly, unless he was caught for something else, he likely just moved on.

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    1. Sadly so...or he died somehow. Hopefully the latter.

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  2. So sad the killer was never caught. I agree with Alex that he probably moved on.

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    1. The more true crime I study, the more I realize there are a heck of a lot of killers running around out there!

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  3. Oh my gosh, this is so incredibly sad, and how awful that the families never had anyone to convict to give them some closure on it. It's always frightening when you hear of killers disappearing - you hope that they were arrested on other charges, rather than the idea they've just moved on. Hopefully he was caught, and no other children had to suffer the same fate. Awful, and chilling. Thank you for sharing another mystery, as eerie as these are, there's always something about them - I think it's because you feel for the families and hope they found justice somehow. - Tasha

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    1. SO many crime mysteries took place in the 70s and 80s and when you do the math, it's pretty easy to dismiss it as, "Well, the killer would probably be too old to kill now..." but maybe not. I just assume they eventually committed suicide or ended up in jail for something else. It would just be nice for these families to have some closure.

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  4. Hi Stephanie! Oh man, these are such sad stories. And the crimes that were committed were before DNA profiling. I wonder if that would have made a difference? Imagine hearing that your child was killed, and that one girl was shot, just what she was afraid of!

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    1. In some cases, they have the DNA...but, of course, you have to have something to match it to. If the killer doesn't have DNA in the databank, there's no match. I was listening to a true crime podcast recently where they said the 70s were before businesses took fingerprints of their employees...but I still don't think even today our fingerprints are uploaded to the criminal databases, are they? I can't imagine my fingerprints are stored there...I don't even remember ever being fingerprinted!

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  5. This is another one that's new to me. Also very scary.

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  6. Thanks for this post. We continue to hear theories here all the time. I doubt that we will ever know the truth.

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    1. Doubtful, from what I've seen of cases that are that cold. It's just been too long.

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  7. As terrible as it may sound, I hope the killer suffered a slow, painful death. So sad for the families that they will probably never know who took their children from them.

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    1. I agree. The only good thing (and it's not THAT good) is that the parents had the closure of knowing what happened to those children. In so many cases, the children disappeared and the parents never learned what happened.

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  8. I would imagine the investigators and many others are still haunted by this.

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    1. From what Denise has said, it haunts the entire community.

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  9. The killer really got off on the terror of these children. I am certain that poor Jill Robinson, terrified, mentioned she didn't want to be shot to the killer which is why she was shot and is different from the other way the children were murdered. Were they all in the same area? It looks like he frequented the small stores knowing kids went into get candy. Hell, at that time, I did as well and used to walk a mile down the road to the convenience store. If my mom heard about this S.O.B., I would not have been allowed to leave the house. If I was a detective, I would be checking out other states to look at missing children of that age and see if there was a similarity. The only way this inhuman would have stopped would be if he was incarcerated or died.

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    1. I was thinking the same thing about Jill Robinson. They were all in Oakland County but different cities--but here's the weird thing. Most of these killings happened in the winter, when it would have been FREEZING during the first three incidents. Why were so many children out walking around? I guess kids walked to stores back then even when it was cold outside, just seems that the killer would have had a hard time finding victims during that time of year.

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    2. I walked in the winter time. This was before the internet, phones and all that stuff so we kept busy. He knew where to look and interesting that it was winter and that he manicure their toes and fingers. He might have been wanting them to be found intact so the cops could see his work..sick.

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  10. Yikes. I guess I was both too young and too far away to remember this story. How awful. Makes me think of Stephen King's It although I'm afraid these crimes had a human perpetrator.

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    1. Yes, real life is even scarier than fiction, I guess.

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  11. How many blue Gremlins were around in 76-77? If the suspect had gone to jail on another charge, someone would have outed him when he bragged about his dealings. I bet he died.

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    1. That was a pretty common car back then? I never paid much attention to cars when I was a kid. I don't really pay attention to them now!

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    2. Also, there was the Pacer which could have been mistaken for a Gremlin. Sort of like the El Camino and the Ranchero. :) How well would these things work out in a mystery novel? Hmmm...I bet it's already been done! DAng it.

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  12. I grew up quite close to Oakland (but on the other side of the border). I was only a few years older than some of the children. I remember some of thee stories and the terror that they caused. I had hoped that the killer had been caught. I am sad to know that there was never closure on this for the families involved.

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    1. Isn't it always SO spooky when you hear stories like this and realize it could have been you? Stories about kids/teens/20-somethings who were abducted or murdered freak me out if they happened when I was that age. Although there aren't any cases (that I know of) of it happening in the area where I grew up--so I can only imagine!

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  13. So sad for these children and for their families to never had closure. Likely the murderer moved away to somewhere else. Of course, after seeing Tamara's comment above, now I'm thinking of It too!

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    1. Yes, he could have actually been caught on another string of murders (or even just one) and put in jail and they never connected him. They didn't cross-check DNA across states like they do now.

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  14. what a horrific story, so incredibly sad for these children and their families. i do not remember this, i was in h.s. and then got married in 1978. horrible, just horrible!!

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    1. There were so many stories I didn't hear about because they happened when I was in high school or college and just not paying attention. Well, maybe college--since I worked for our campus TV station and had to pay attention to the news since we were reporting it! But the news sometimes takes a backseat to life!

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  15. I didn't know about these cases. How awful.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. I didn't either until Denise mentioned it.

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  16. How depressing that there was no closure. :(

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    1. There are so many cases like this, too.

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  17. Just awful. Nobody should get away with this.

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    1. I agree. So heartbreaking. I think I'm going to have to take a week off from the kid death stuff and write about something a little less depressing!

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  18. And if the killer were caught, what then? what punishment would he have got? Law people sometimes make deals with the killer and he gets a shortened jail stay.

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    1. Possible--although kid killers don't get very good treatment from their fellow prisoners in jail...

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  19. Nothing can be more heartbreaking than the killing of a child. I wonder how a monster like this can sleep! I am sure he must have died of guilt!

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    1. I agree. I can't imagine how someone could even want to live after doing something so horrendous.

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  20. I hope he got hit with a car and fell in a ditch with a rabid rottweiler. I know long shot but such evil deserves to suffer.

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    1. LOL, that does sound like a fair punishment!

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  21. As a former juvenile officer, there are many haunting stories. We want and expect justice for victims. Yet too often it doesn't happen.

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    1. Stephanie, I didn't want to look like a mystery woman! This comment came in under my blogspot profile instead of the Wordpress one--Pat Wahler

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  22. Stories like these are so sad. It makes a person want to keep constant watch over their children. I think of all the times my boys walked all over the neighborhood, alone or with friends. It's scary what happened to those children.

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    1. I can only imagine. I'm not a mom--I think it's easier for me to follow true crime because of that. I couldn't handle the kid stories if I had children, I'm sure!

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  23. Oh no - this is real? Yikes! I can't imagine what happened to the killer. I suspect he moved elsewhere or for whatever reason stopped. Horrifying!

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    1. Yep...and sadly, there are SO many unsolved crimes just like it.

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  24. I'm surprised I hadn't heard of this killer before given I'm an avid reader on serial killers. (yeah, morbid hobby.) Sad it's still unsolved.

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    1. It's a bit alarming to me how many suspected serial killers there are. We think of the big-name ones, but there are tons who just killed a few people over a short space of time that we never hear much about.

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  25. How sad! I hope the families were able to move on after these terrible crimes. Makes me wonder if today's technology might have helped solve these crimes.

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    1. I think it might have helped a lot. Plus, people are so watchful now, it's harder for criminals to get away with things like this. There are surveillance cameras all over the place, for instance. I think he would have been caught after the first or second one if it happened today.

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  26. truly scared me .
    how sad this is for the parents of those victims .
    I saw such serial killing stuff only in movies but heard on news of cnn and bbc occasionally .
    some years back here in Pakistan more than 100 hindered children were thrown in boiling chemical but killer was arrested and punished.
    mental sickness can cause such harm to innocents but police should be much active to find and punish the killer.

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  27. So very sad for their families, the suffering they must have gone through.

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  28. When I see things like this, which I didn't know about, I'm reminded that you're right about thinking that nothing happened in the 70's. So sad that people feel the need to harm our children.

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  29. So very very sad!!! I don't think he would have got away with it, these days!! I feel for the families!

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  30. I feel so very sad for those kids. :(

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