The Snow Killings

Inside the Oakland County Child Killer Investigation


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About the Book

Over 13 months in 1976­–1977, four children were abducted in the Detroit suburbs, each of them held for days before their still-warm bodies were dumped in the snow near public roadsides. The Oakland County Child Murders spawned panic across southeast Michigan, triggering the most extensive manhunt in U.S. history. Yet after less than two years, the task force created to find the killer was shut down without naming a suspect. The case “went cold” for more than 30 years, until a chance discovery by one victim’s family pointed to the son of a wealthy General Motors executive: Christopher Brian Busch, a convicted pedophile, was freed weeks before the fourth child disappeared. Veteran Detroit News reporter Marney Rich Keenan takes the reader inside the investigation of the still-unsolved murders—seen through the eyes of the lead detective in the case and the family who cracked it open—revealing evidence of a decades-long coverup of malfeasance and obstruction that denied justice for the victims.

About the Author(s)

Marney Rich Keenan is an award-winning reporter and columnist, recently retired after 26 years with The Detroit News. She lives in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.

Bibliographic Details

Marney Rich Keenan
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 283
Bibliographic Info: 53 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2020
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8400-0
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4204-8
Imprint: Exposit Books

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Prologue 1
1. “The Clock Was Ticking” 5
2. The Body of a Young Boy 26
3. A Sinister Confluence of Events 43
4. The Snow Killings 48
5. The Sick Underbelly of the Beast 61
6. Offered Ten Years, He Chose Three Life Sentences 68
7. A One in a Million Conversation 79
8. “This should have been solved thirty-two years ago” 91
9. Suicide or Hit? 105
10. A Request for Witness Protection 117
11. “We don’t let the tail wag the dog” 129
12. Brother Paul’s Children’s Mission 144
13. Busch Is Front Page News 157
14. A ­Cover-Up and a Red Herring 169
15. No New Evidence 182
16. Obstructing the Investigation 191
17. Sloan, Crosbie and Comrades 199
18. Finally Righting the Ship 208
19. Cooper Goes Rogue 216
20. Trying to Make All the Pieces Fit 224
21. Last Resorts 236
22. No Such Thing as Closure 241
Chapter Notes 253
Bibliography 265
Index 269

Book Reviews & Awards

• “Each chapter reads like an in-depth newspaper article, and while the shifting time periods can be confusing, this is a page-turner nonetheless. Readers will ache for the family members of Mark Stebbins, Jill Robinson, Kristine Mihelich, and Timothy King, and be outraged at the incompetent and seemingly petty divisiveness of the investigators. …A moving, well-crafted narrative for true crime buffs.”—Library Journal

• “This has got to be the most in-depth and complete account of the Oakland County Child Killer murders published to date and the details are woven together expertly. For 10 years, Marney Keenan followed each strand of this story, laying out the complexity in this meticulous, haunting narrative. In turns saddening, maddening and addictively intriguing, it almost reads like a hallucinogenic dream with an unparalleled cast of characters: at the end, one wonders if it’s possible that law enforcement could both participate in a cover-up and try relentlessly to uncover the truth. For the families of the victims, that crux must be the stuff of an endless living nightmare.”—Tracy Ullman, Executive Producer, NBC News Studios

• “Keenan has written a true crime epic that will remain with the reader long after the last page has been turned.”—Michigan in Books