The opening line from the “Law and Order” program mentioned earlier is a succinct and clear indication of the respective roles of the police and prosecutors. A more detailed and helpful explanation was provided by former OCP, Jessica Cooper, in a letter dated November 13, 2009 to Barry King, the father of Tim King, the last victim in the OCCK case.24
Cooper was either being ironic or was completely ignorant of the history of the office she held. After the third OCCK victim, Kristine Mihelich, was abduction on January 2, 1977, the OCTF, a special interdepartmental police task force, was formed.25 This effort was initiated by Lt. Simmons of the Southfield PD. The task force expanded substantially after the disappearance of Tim King on March 16, 1977 with Michigan State Police (MSP) Lt. Robert Robertson at the helm as coordinator. At least that is how it was supposed to function.
On January 28, 1977, one week after Kristine Mihelich was found dead, the Oakland County Sheriff questioned why OCP, Brooks Patterson, called in a fingerprint expert from Toronto to lift prints from Mihelich’s body.26 After all, the county had its own expert and, more importantly, this was an ongoing police investigation. There were no “criminal charges brought against specific, living individuals.” Why was the prosecutor not staying in his lane?
Aside from the fact that the OCP had no business collecting evidence in this investigation, the manner in which Patterson did it was particularly odd. First, he insisted on his office being involved in the investigation after Mihelich’s body was found. He assigned assistant prosecutor (AP), Edward Sosnick, to take part in the investigation.27 Once Sosnick was inserted into the team, he took over the responsibility of making arrangements for Mihelich’s autopsy. This gave Patterson control so that he could have his Canadian expert come in and lift prints before the autopsy was performed. By hiring a private expert, Patterson ensured that his expert’s findings would be reported directly to him and not the police investigating the crime.28 This need to exercise absolute and exclusive control over information was another recurring Patterson characteristic.
This point in late January of 1977 marked the beginning of where the line between the roles of the police and the prosecutor was not simply blurred. It vanished. Before this, Brooks Patterson’s name was barely mentioned in association with the OCCK case. His sudden interest did not go unnoticed. Thomas Robinson, father of the second OCCK victim, Jill Robinson, had this to say:29
On January 28, 1977, after being virtually silent and invisible regarding the OCCK for almost one year, Patterson unexpectedly asserted himself as spokesman and de facto leader of the OCCK investigation. The public perception of who was leading the investigation was the reverse of how the criminal justice system is supposed to operate. The same Detroit News article referenced above was where the Oakland County Sheriff criticized Patterson for meddling in a police investigation and includes the following statement: “The sheriff’s department has two detectives and a stenographer assigned to Patterson’s task force.” (emphasis added). Below are the opening paragraphs of another story from March 5, 1977:30
Patterson further solidified his position during a political turf war with Oakland County Sheriff, Johannes Spreen, where Patterson declared himself the county’s chief law enforcement officer.31 Although Patterson had a reputation for enjoying the spotlight and wanted to expand the perception that he was tough on crime, this matter of the OCCK case was different. The timing of the hijacking of the OCCK investigation by the OCP on January 28, 1977 is important to understand why the case unfolded how it did and why the task force abruptly disbanded in December of 1978. Given this context and introduction to the OCP, we can now address how the OCCK investigation went off the rails following the discovery of a series of child molestation incidents in Flint, Michigan. We can now understand that the timing of the hijacking of the investigation and the molestations in Flint was not a simple coincidence.
24 OCP 602. This letter was part of a concerted effort by the OCP office and Michigan State Police to avoid producing information about Chris Busch in relation to the OCCK case. The irony is that the OCP office had done nothing regarding Chris Busch since his suicide 30 years earlier. It was only through the efforts of the Kings that Chris Busch’s name and crimes became known to the public. The file for Chris Busch’s ridiculous suicide scene had been gathering dust for almost three decades. This file showed how Busch left the police with an orgy of evidence connecting himself to the OCCK case. The room where Busch killed himself was only treated as an OCCK‐related crime scene 30 years after his body was cremated, physical evidence was discarded and two families bought, sold and remodeled the home.
25 NCJRS at 11.
26 Detroit News, January 28, 1977, 2‐A.
27 MK 14.