The Disturbing Unsolved Crimes Of The Oakland County Child Killer

From February 1976 to March 1977, the Metro Detroit area was gripped with fear as children began disappearing, then turning up dead. Although the first two murders weren't connected, police knew they had a serial killer on their hands when a third victim turned up shortly after the second murder.

The unknown culprit was eventually nicknamed the "Oakland County Child Killer," but their true identity has never been determined. Instead, there's only speculation as to who murdered Mark Stebbins, Jill Robinson, Kristine "Kris" Mihelich, and Timothy "Tim" King.

While some believe the man who killed these children died decades ago, others still hope that there will be a resolution in this horrific cold case.

  • The First Victim Was 12-Year-Old Mark Stebbins

    Mark Stebbins was last seen alive on February 15, 1976, when he left the American Legion hall where his mother worked as a bartender. Stebbins only had to walk three blocks to get home, and it was still daylight. He had made the short trip many times before; however, when his younger brother walked home just an hour later, there was no sign of Mark at the house.

    Four days later on the morning of February 19, Mark Stebbins's body was found in a snowbank behind an office complex in Ferndale, MI. Stebbins had been sexually assaulted and smothered before his killer bathed and re-dressed his deceased body.

  • Jill Robinson, Another Victim, Had Just Fought With Her Mother When She Disappeared

    Jill Robinson had been arguing with her mother on December 22, 1976, when her mother told her leave the house until she calmed down. Robinson, who was just 12 years old, grabbed her bike and was never seen alive again. Robinson's bike was found on the 23rd, and her body was found along a Michigan interstate on December 26. She had been shot in the head, and - like Mark Stebbins - her body had been bathed.

    Police did not initially link the murders of Mark Stebbins and Jill Robinson. Unlike Stebbins, Robinson had not been sexually assaulted, and she had been shot in the head rather than smothered. The murders had also taken place 10 months apart.

  • Kris Mihelich's Murder Led Police To Believe They Were Dealing With A Serial Killer

    Kris Mihelich had convinced her mother to let her go to the store and buy a magazine when she disappeared on January 2, 1977. The store clerk remembered selling a magazine to 10-year-old Mihelich, so she was likely abducted on her walk home.

    Her body wasn't found until 19 days later. She had been smothered, bathed, re-dressed, and left in a snowbank. At this point, police realized the three child murders were related to one another. Police across Michigan created a task force to track down the killer before they struck a fourth time.

  • Tim King Was Fed His Favorite Meal Before Being Murdered

    Tim King had left home to buy a candy bar on March 16, 1977, when he was abducted. The 11-year-old's body was found in a ditch on March 23. Like the other victims, he had been bathed and re-dressed. He had also been sexually assaulted and smothered like the other male victim, Mark Stebbins, had been over a year before.

    After King was abducted, his mother turned to the local newspaper for assistance. She wrote a letter appealing to the killer to release her son unharmed. In the letter, Mrs. King mentioned she wanted the chance to give Tim Kentucky Fried Chicken again, as it was his favorite meal. Fried chicken was later found in King's stomach during his autopsy, leading investigators to believe the killer was following news coverage of the murders.

  • An Alleged Accomplice Sent A Confession Letter To A Psychiatrist

    A few weeks after investigators found Tim King, a letter arrived at psychiatrist Bruce Danto's office. The letter's author called himself "Allen" and confessed that his roommate, Frank, was the Oakland County Child Killer. He claimed that Frank was a Vietnam veteran with PTSD that caused him to kill children. Allen further explained that Frank was a sadomasochist, and Allen was living as Frank's "slave."

    Dr. Danto was given explicit instructions to contact Allen via the local paper. Next, he called Dr. Danto and scheduled a meeting in a bar. Allen never showed up for the meeting and was never heard from again.

  • Investigator's Prime Suspect, Chris Busch, Was Found Dead In His Bedroom

    As the murder task force continued their investigation, they began to suspect convicted pedophile Chris Busch. Busch was the son of an executive at General Motors and had been seen with a young boy just days before Tim King's body was found. Busch was taken into custody but was later released on a plea deal.

    He was later found dead in his home in November 1978 from what appeared to be a self-inflicted shotgun wound. Bloodied rope was also found in Busch's bedroom closet. Above Busch's bed was a drawing of a young boy who appeared to be screaming. The drawing reportedly resembled Mark Stebbins.