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The Oakland County Child Murders

by Catherine MacKenzie 2 months ago in investigation
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"The Babysitter Killer"

Any parent can tell you that the thought of their child going missing isn't something that anyone wants to go through. And for those that have wish that no other parent ever feels that pain.

Child abduction and murder sadly isn't a new phenomenon, but it always rocks the community and society when it does happen.

Four children over a period of thirteen months between 1976 and 1977 went missing in Oakland County Michigan.

The similarities in each of these children, who had no real connection to each other, is staggering. And I don't just mean in physical appearance, but personality, religion, and home life.

This makes me create my own kind of criminal profile on the killer. The M.O. is clearly calculated and well studied. The person that committed these murders is extremely intelligent and well versed in forensics and crime scene analysis. This makes me wonder if the person was a member of law enforcement, or former member, or someone who perhaps was well educated in the way of police procedure.

This person was no amateur. They knew exactly what they were doing.

Let's compare the children.

Victim the first:

Mark Stebbins was a 12 year old boy who was described as a quiet kid, a loner, and a good student. He was Roman Catholic and his parents were divorced and he was from Ferndale, Michigan. He was in 7th grade, had strawberry blonde hair and weighed about 100 pounds.

He was last seen and heard from at 13:30 (1:30 p.m.) on Feb. 15th 1976 when he called his mother and let her know he was on his way home from the American Legion Hall. When he had not returned by 23:00 (11:00 p.m.), his mother reported him missing.

On the morning of Feb. 19, 1976 a business man named Mark Boetigheimer left his work place at 11:45 a.m. As he was leaving, something that looked like a mannequin caught his eye in a corner section of the parking lot.

As he approached, he realized it was the dead body of a young boy. He was fully clothed upon discovery.

Mark Stebbins was found.

The medical examiner noted that he was sexually abused and that he was suffocated. After death, his body was cleaned. It was also very apparent that while he was held captive, he was taken care of. He was well fed and had had plenty to drink. There were also ligature marks around his wrists and ankles.

A man told the police that he had been walking his dog the morning he was found at around 09:30 (9:30 a.m.), the dog on a 20 ft leash. The man stated that had the boy's body been there at that time, the dog would have found him.

That leaves a short 2 hour and 15 minute window that the person or persons responsible had to leave his body to be found.

Victim the second:

Jill Robinson was 12 years old and from Royal Oak Michigan. She was from a Roman Catholic family and her parents had recently divorced. She has been described as a loner, but a smart kid and a good student.

Jill was the oldest of three girls and she and her mother Karol would at times argue; like any child and parent. On this particular day in December, the 22nd, 1976.

It was late afternoon and mother and daughter argued over Jill helping to make biscuits for dinner. The argument became heated and Karol told her daughter to leave until she "could become a member of the family", which prompted Jill to pack some things and leave home. She was last seen alive between six and seven the following morning at the Donut Depot.

Her father had called her in as missing to the local police at 23:30 the same night she left home.

Her body was found on December 26th, 1976 on the side of I-75, north of Big Beaver Road. She was fully clothed upon discovery.

The medical examiner ruled cause of death as a shotgun blast to the head. She was not sexually abused. While captive, she was well fed and taken care of. There were no ligature marks anywhere on her. She was also washed and cleaned.

Victim the third:

Kristine was ten years old at the time of her death. Her parents were divorced and she lived with her mother. She was described as a quiet kid, rather shy, and with few friends. She was an average student and from Berkley, Michigan.

She went missing the second of Jan. 1977 and found the 21st of Jan. 1977. She was missing 19 days before she body was found along a snow bank on Bruce Road in Franklin Village, Mich. She was found by a mailman that was walking his normal route. She was on her back with her knees drawn up.

He was quoted as saying, “I saw a hand ... It scared the hell out of me.”

She was not sexually abused during the time she was captive.

Her cause of death was ruled as suffocation.

She was found in the same clothes she disappeared in and there were no signs of violence on her body, though it was in such a frozen state that the medical examiner had to wait until the body thawed before they could properly do an autopsy.

Timothy King was 11 years old at the time of his death and he was from Birmingham, Mich.

He was last seen March 16, 1977 and found March 23, 1977 in a ditch on Gill Road. He was missing for seven days.

His cause of death was also ruled as suffocation.

He was sexually abused during the time of his captivity.

He was clean when he was found. Bathed. Well taken care of.

In a press release Timothy's parents mentioned that his favorite food was from Kentucky Fried Chicken. The M.E. noted that this was his last meal.

Timothy’s parents were not divorced. One of the few differences between all the kids. He lived with both of them in Birmingham, Mich. His family was Roman Catholic. Timothy was described as an outgoing boy who was athletic and well-liked.

That March evening, Timothy borrowed .30 cents from his older sister and made his way to the corner store, as he wanted to get some candy. This was something that he had done on more than one occasion, the store being only a few blocks from his home.

A store employee, Amy Walters, told authorities that she sold Tim candy and he left through the back door to parking lot around 8:30 p.m.. Birmingham Police Chief Jerry Tobin is quoted saying, “whatever happened to Tim happened between the time he left the store and before he got home. It doesn’t look particularly good at this time.”

According to Catherine, Tim’s sister who he borrowed the money from, he had asked her to leave the front door open slightly for him so that when he got back home from the store he could get back in without any trouble.

Catherine left for the night, which left the house empty as both their parents and Timothy's older brothers were all out of the house. This would have been the first time Timothy would be home alone at night for any extended period of time. Timothy’s parents got back to the house around 9 p.m. to find the door open, but Timothy was nowhere to be found.

The family searched everywhere for Timothy they could think of. They called his friends, searched the neighborhood and surrounding area. By 09:15 the next morning, Chief Tobin requested the full involvement of the task force. By the afternoon (this was the day after Timothy went missing) there were headquarters established at the Adams Fire House, which was only a few blocks from the King family home. Door-to-door searches were conducted and classmates questioned.

Timothy was abducted on a Wednesday. By Thursday, 100 lawmen from Oakland County, volunteers, Oakland County Sheriff’s investigators, the county helicopter as well as the special Oakland County Task Force all were diligently searched the area. That day the Kings stayed home most of the day, but Timothy's father Barry did tell the media, “we very much want Tim to come home. We love him very much. He had a basketball game Saturday and missed practice today (Thursday). He’s active in a school play. He’s an achiever and a participator. We just love Tim and want him to come home.” Barry also told the media that just the week before that Timothy had said that he would not speak to strangers but instead would "run away from them."

There is a suspect in the Timothy King murder. A witness had come forward after Timothy's body was found and said that she saw a man speaking with the boy in the parking lot of the store he bought the candy.

She said Timothy and the man were about two car-lengths from her. She was able to describe the man she saw talking to whom she thought to be Timothy King. This witness also described the vehicle; a dark-blue AMC Gremlin with a white stripe on its side, she called it a “hockey stick” stripe.

The man talking to the boy thought to be Timothy was described as between 25 and 35 years old, white, with a dark brown hair cut in a shag style.

There has never been any suspect found and/or charged for the murders of these kids and possibly more kids around that area around the same time.

Someone, somewhere knows something about this. Either the killer or someone he talked to.

The likelihood is that the killer is no longer alive and that he got away with murder at least four times. Whoever knows something should come forward and allow the family members that still live to finally get some closure.


About the author

Catherine MacKenzie

I write about murders, and murderers. I write of thoughts, confusions, victories, defeats. Of love gained and love lost. Of life in all its multi-faceted glory.

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