n late 1978, police in Michigan were engaged in the largest manhunt in the United States in what was the biggest criminal case in the state’s history. Four children from Oakland County were abducted and murdered between February 15, 1976 and March 22, 1977. An interdepartmental task force which at its peak included hundreds of police detectives and officers worked around the clock to catch those responsible. Despite the manpower, funding, reward offers and thousands of tips, not a single person was charged with the crime and the case remains unsolved.3 The vexation over this case was not limited to the investigators. It was on the minds of all parents in Michigan and beyond. Schoolchildren were warned of the danger of talking to strangers. Those who are old enough remember that everyone was on edge. We were terrified.
In December of 1978, the task force that was created to investigate the OCCK case (OCTF) abruptly disbanded. No arrests were ever made, and no meaningful explanation was given for shutting down the investigation. We begin our story with a suicide scene that immediately preceded the disbanding of the OCTF. This scene was the culmination of events that were triggered 22 months earlier on January 25, 1977, the date the OCCK investigation went completely off the rails. We will examine those 22 months in chronological order, but it is important to remember how this suicide scene was reported at the end of this almost 2‐year long odyssey. It will provide context as we review the handling of the most obvious OCCK suspect and why he was hidden from the public.
On November 20, 1978, police were called to the home of Harold Lee Busch, a wealthy retired General Motors executive, who served as Controller of the Cadillac Division. His retirement from General Motors was announced three days after the body of the first OCCK victim, Mark Stebbins, was found.4 H. Lee’s home was in an exclusive neighborhood in Oakland County known as Bloomfield Village. He and his wife, Elsie, were out of town and their youngest son, 27‐year‐old Chris, was home alone. The police were contacted by Chris’ brother, Charles, who lived in neighboring Birmingham, when H. Lee’s housekeeper called Charles from a neighbor’s home complaining that she was locked out and Chris wasn’t answering the door. Upon entering the home, police found Chris in his bedroom dead from what appeared to be a self‐ inflicted gunshot wound to the forehead from a .22 caliber rifle. This is not all they found.
The above pencil drawing was on the wall of the bedroom where Chris Busch was found dead. The drawing bears a strong resemblance to Mark Stebbins. At the time he was abducted, Mark was wearing a parka with a thin fur lining around the hood like the one shown in the drawing. The kidnappers of Stebbins and the last OCCK victim, Tim King, sexually assaulted both boys before murdering them. Chris Busch was an admitted serial rapist of young boys and was charged with the crime in four counties in Michigan, including Oakland County. He received a sentence of probation in every case which is why he was found at home in bed that day instead of a prison cell. Several ropes with what appeared to be blood stains were found strewn about the floor in the bedroom where Chris Busch was found dead. Ligature marks were found on the dead bodies of Stebbins and King at their wrists and ankles indicating that they were tied up before they were murdered.
A casing for what appeared to be a 12‐gauge shotgun shell was found on the dresser in the bedroom where Chris Busch was found dead. Jill Robinson, the second OCCK victim, was shot in the face with a 12‐gauge shotgun.
About 22 months earlier, Chris Busch was investigated as one of the suspects responsible for murdering Mark Stebbins. This was less than two months before Tim King was abducted. Members of the special task force assigned to investigate the OCCK case interviewed Busch on January 28, 1977. Although he denied murdering Stebbins, he admitted that he molested several young boys. He also told them that he hunts for his victims at 9 mile and Woodward in Ferndale, 13 Mile and Woodward in Royal Oak and the 7/11 store on 12 Mile in Berkley. Busch named the places in that order. These are the three locations where the first three OCCK victims were last seen alive in that order.5 Less than seven weeks after the task force interviewed Chris Busch, Tim King was abducted in a parking lot at the intersection of Maple and Woodward in Birmingham. That is two miles from the home where Chris Busch killed himself.
The above information was known by the OCP, L. Brooks Patterson, at the time Chris Busch was found dead in his bedroom on November 20, 1978 during the largest manhunt in the country and the biggest criminal case in Michigan’s history. For the next 31 years, the only news story regarding the scene the police encountered when they found Chris Busch dead in his bedroom in the most exclusive neighborhood in Oakland County is shown below.6 Nothing was reported about the pencil drawing. Nothing was reported about the ropes with blood stains or the shotgun shell casing. Nothing was reported about a serial child rapist killing himself. Nothing was reported explaining why an admitted child rapist who was arrested in four counties on CSC charges was able to kill himself in the comfort of his wealthy father’s home instead of a jail cell. Nothing about the child rapist’s wealthy father having connections to one of the most powerful companies in the world. The absurdity of the postage‐stamp‐sized obituary being the only reported story about Chris Busch’s death will become increasingly apparent as we review this case.
3 Detroit News, March 22, 1981, 3‐B.
4 Detroit News, February 22, 1976, 7‐E.
5 Citations to the relevant documents are provided in later chapters when this evidence is substantively discussed.
6 Detroit Free Press, November 21, 1978, 6C.