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Suspect Emerges in Child Killer Case

12-7-2009 Michigan:

After 33 years, a possible suspect is emerging in the Oakland County Child Killer case.

Could Christopher Brian Busch be the Oakland County Child Killer? He died in 1978, and most of his family members have passed away. So relatives of the victims want to know what’s taking so long for police to finish investigating Busch.

[Barry King/Father of Timmy King] “I can accept Timmy being dead. I can’t accept anyone having him for six days, and keeping him away from his family and torturing him.”

Barry King’s 11-year-old son, Timmy, was the last victim of the Oakland County Child Killer. Between 1976 and 1977, four children were abducted and murdered.

Christopher Busch was polygraphed and cleared by the original child killer task force in the 70s. But a chance meeting by two men (who were neither suspects nor family members of the victims), 2,000 miles from Detroit, helped bring Busch's name to the top of the list of potential suspects.

In 2006, a polygraph examiner named Patrick Coffey says he happened to run into a Southfield polygrapher named Lawrence Wasser at a conference in Las Vegas. Coffey says he told Wasser the reason that he got into the field was because his neighbor in 1977, Timmy King, was murdered.

[Patrick Coffey/Polygraph Examiner] “(Wasser's) response was, 'I guess I can tell you this now, because the attorney who represented the guy is dead, and the person who did it is dead.' He said, 'I tested the guy who confessed to killing your neighbor boy.' ”

Coffey spoke to Action News Investigative Reporter Heather Catallo by phone from California, and said once he had the conversation, he immediately contacted his old friends, the King family.

From there, the Kings told the police, and Christopher Busch’s name emerged. Busch would have been 25 in 1976, and he lived in a home in Bloomfield Township.

Christopher Busch's father, Harold, was a top financial executive with General Motors, and those close to the case say the family had a great deal of money, and that the parents were often away from the Bloomfield home.

In early 1977, Flint police arrested Christopher Busch and a friend of his, 26-year-old Gregory Greene, for criminal sexual conduct charges. Newspaper accounts from 1977 show Flint police arrested them for allegedly forcing dozens of boys to commit sex acts and engage in lewd photography.

Greene was kept in custody on a $75,000 bond, and eventually served a life sentence. Christopher Busch’s bond also started at $75,000. But a copy of his jail inmate record shows that someone crossed that out, reducing it to only $1,000, and he walked free.

One of the cases that may have been tied to the Flint bust ended up in Oakland County. Records uncovered by Catallo show that Busch pleaded guilty to both 3rd and 4th degree criminal sexual conduct. As part of the plea deal, he got two years of probation, had to pay an $800 fine, and the charges were dropped.

But the details from the testimony at the preliminary exam are shocking. A young boy from Flint testified that Greene and Busch drove him in Busch’s car to a rural area in Groveland Township. That’s where the 13-year-old said Busch performed a sex act on him, and forced the boy to do the same to Busch.

Of interest in the testimony was the boy’s description of Busch’s car: “Blue Vega, White Interior, 1974, with a white stripe on the side.” After King’s abduction, the child killer task force searched for a Blue Gremlin with a white stripe. The cars are eerily similar.

And if you examine the mug shots of both Christopher Busch and Gregory Greene, they do look like the composite suspect sketch that circulated at the time of the murders.

Oakland County Executive Brooks Patterson was the prosecutor at the time of the case against Busch. He does not remember this specific case, but believes it would have been referred to the task force at the time.

[Brooks Patterson/Prosecutor at time of Child Killings] “Is two years of probation, and a fine – no jail time – a light sentence for something like that? Oh hell yes! We had a reputation of being pretty aggressive, so there had to be something that would have allowed us to accept probation.”

But Patterson says there’s no way Busch got a “deal” because of his background.

[Brooks Patterson/Prosecutor at time of Child Killings] “To suggest that my office, or the sentencing judge – Judge Templin – somehow was less than aggressive because the parents were rich – that’s absolute crap!”

Action News has learned that Busch was also arrested by the Midland County Sheriff’s Department in 1977. He was found guilty, but records show he only got probation in that case as well.

On November 20, 1978, Christopher Busch was found dead in his home. Police reports show he committed suicide with a rifle.

Sources close to the case say police at the suicide scene found ligatures, which can be used to restrain someone, and a sketch of a young boy that reportedly looked just like Mark Stebbins, one of the four young victims.

Police reports show the “task force was notified” and members came to the house that day.

The renewed interest in Busch prompted a search last year of his former home. Patterson saw the warrant that was used to gather trace evidence, like fibers and hairs from the air ducts. Patterson wants this case closed for the families.

[Brooks Patterson/Prosecutor at time of Child Killings] “You’ve got to have enough to satisfy a judge to sign that warrant. So that’s a level of proof, if you will, called probable cause. And there was probable cause to obtain a search warrant, so there’s probable cause to believe this man probably was involved."

For the last year, the Michigan State Police have been analyzing what they found inside that home, but they won’t talk on the record about Busch right now. As for the polygraph examiner who supposedly got the confession out of Busch? For some reason, he isn’t talking either, and his attorney denies that he ever said anything about the case. ..Source.. by WXYZ

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