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The Babysitter Killer, also known as The Babysitter and The Oakland County Child Killer, is an unidentified serial killer and rapist responsible for the murders of at least four children in Oakland County, Michigan.

Brief Case History

On February 15, 1976, 12-year-old Mark Stebbins was seen leaving American Legion Hall. He had told his mother that he was going home to watch TV. He disappeared and turned up dead on February 19. His body was neatly laid out in a snowbank in the parking lot of an office building. Stebbins had been sexually assaulted with an object and strangled to death. Also, two cuts were inflicted to the left rear of his head, and rope marks were present on both his wrists and ankles, meaning that he had been tied up while in captivity. He was fully clothed, wearing the same outfit when he had vanished.

12-year-old Jill Robinson packed her backpack and ran away from home after having an argument with her mother over dinner preparations on December 22. The next day, her bicycle was found behind a hobby store. On December 26, her body was discovered along the side of Interstate 75 near Big Beaver Road. Half of her face had been blown off by a 12-gauge shotgun while lying face up in the position that she was found in. Robinson was fully clothed and still wearing her backpack. Her body, neatly laid out in the snow, had been placed within sight of a police station.

On January 2, 1977, 10-year-old Kristine Mihelich was last seen purchasing a magazine at a 7-Eleven store; her mother reported her as a missing person three hours later. On January 21, her fully clothed body was discovered by a mail carrier on the side of a rural road in Franklin Village. She was placed within view of nearby homes in the snow, eyes closed and arms folded across her chest. An autopsy revealed that Mihelich had been fatally smothered less than 24 hours before she was found.

After borrowing money from his older sister so that he could buy candy at a nearby drugstore, 11-year-old Timothy King left his home with his skateboard on March 16. He exited the store by its rear entrance, which opened to a parking lot shared with a supermarket, and vanished. There was a widespread search, and in a tragic TV appeal, his father begged for his son to be released. In a letter printed to Detroit News, King's mother wrote that she hoped he would come back home so she could serve him his favorite meal, Kentucky Fried Chicken. On March 22, two teenagers noticed his body in a shallow ditch. His skateboard was next to him, and his clothing was neatly pressed and washed. He had been sexually assaulted with an object and suffocated to death. The autopsy revealed that King was murdered six hours before he was found; he had also been fed KFC prior to his death.

Modus Operandi

The M.O. of the Babysitter mainly consisted of abducting children while they were on their way to specific locations before holding them captive for four to nineteen days, sexually assaulting (boys only) and murdering them in various ways, such as shooting them with a shotgun (which the killer only implemented once) or asphyxiation by smothering them.

Once the children were dead, the killer would then place their bodies in various locations in Oakland County in the view of the public.

Suspects and Persons of Interest

  • "Allen"
    • In the following weeks after the death of Timothy King, Dr. Bruce Danto, a Detroit psychiatrist who was working with the task force of the case at the time, received a poorly spelled and guilt-ridden letter from an anonymous writer only referred to as "Allen", who claimed to be the sadomasochist slave of his roommate 'Frank' who is believed to be the Oakland County Child Killer. "Allen" wrote a pleading, remorseful, and fearful letter about how he was losing his sanity, endangered, and developed suicidal thoughts, convincing Danto that the letter was genuine. According to "Allen", he had accompanied 'Frank' on many road trips seeking out boys, but claimed that he wasn't present during the abductions for the boys that 'Frank' murdered. He also confirmed that 'Frank' drove an AMC Gremlin, but he got rid of it in Ohio and it was never seen again.
    • "Allen" also stated in the letter that 'Frank' was traumatized from the experience of killing children during the Vietnam War, in which he and "Allen" served, and was seeking revenge against more affluent citizens including the residents of Birmingham. He also wrote that 'Frank' wanted to see rich people suffer for sending forces to Vietnam and getting nothing in return.
    • "Allen" had instructed Danto to respond to the letter by printing code words like "weather bureau says trees to blossom in three weeks" published in the Sunday's Free Press edition. Soon after, Dr. Danto received a phone call from "Allen" in which he offered to provide photographic evidence in exchange for a letter from William Milliken, the Governor of Michigan at the time, which guaranteed him immunity from being prosecuted.
    • Danto arranged the meeting at a bar known as the 'Pony Cart Bar' which was near Detroit's Palmer Woods neighborhood. However, "Allen" never showed up at the venue and he was never seen again.
  • Archibald Edward Sloan (1941-)
    • Archibald Edward Sloan was a pedophile who had victimized young boys in his neighborhood at the time the killings transpired. He became a suspect in the Oakland County Child Killer case when hair samples were discovered in his 1966 Pontiac Bonneville and matched the hair found on the bodies of Timothy King and Mark Stebbins. Unfortunately, the hair samples didn't match any of the other victims.
    • It was believed that Sloan often lent his car to his friends who also happened to be pedophiles just like him.
  • John Wayne Gacy
    • As the child killings took place in Michigan, the authorities considered the possibility that the infamous "killer clown", John Wayne Gacy, was the Oakland County Child Killer.
    • According to a witness in the 1977 abduction of Timothy King, there were two men with King during the time of his abduction. The first suspect was described as a young man in his late 20's while the other suspect bared a strong resemblance to Gacy. It was allegedly believed that Gacy had also been in Michigan around the time the murders took place.
    • However in 2013, several DNA tests were conducted and they confirmed that John Wayne Gacy was not the Oakland County Child Killer.
  • Theodore Lamborgine (1941-)
    • Police in Parma Heights, Ohio arrested Theodore Lamborgine, a retired auto worker who was believed to be involved in a child pornography ring in the 1970s.
    • On March 27, 2007, investigators told the WXYZ TV station in Detroit that Lamborgine was considered as the top suspect in the case.
    • Lamborgine pleaded guilty to 15 sex-related counts that involved young boys, rather than accepting a plea deal which would've required him to take a polygraph test on the Oakland County child killings. He also refused an offer of a reduced sentence in exchange for the polygraph test on the case.
    • In October of 2007, the family of Mark Stebbins filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Lamborgine and sought $25,000 in damages. The lawsuit alleges that Lamborgine, who lived in the Detroit Metro area in the 1970s, abducted Mark and held him captive in a Royal Oak house for four days in February of 1976 before smothering him to death during a sexual assault against him. However, Lamborgine had never been formally linked or charged within the death of Mark Stebbins.
    • The Stebbins family attorney, David A. Binkley, sought compensation which included funeral costs for Mark's brother, Michael, but stressed that money was "secondary".
  • Chris Busch (1951-1978)
    • Eventually, the case sparked new interest when the father and uncle of Timothy King tried to get the Michigan State Police to release information about Chris Busch, who was the son of Harold Lee Busch, a high-level executive for the General Motors auto company.
    • Chris Busch had been in police custody before Timothy King's abduction for suspected involvement in child pornography.
    • In November of 1978, it was alleged that Chris Busch had committed suicide. However, the strange thing was that no gunshot residue was found on his corpse, nor was there a sign of blood spatter. Furthermore, four shell casings were found in his room. He also appeared to be wrapped neatly under the sheets. He was found with one bullet hole right between the eyes.
    • A drawing depicting a child screaming in agony was found in Chris Busch’s house. Said child bears an eerie resemblance to Mark Stebbins.
    • After Chris Busch allegedly committed suicide, there was no confirmed activity from the Oakland County Child Killer.
    • Since then, the Michigan State Police released 3,400 pages of investigative records to Barry King, Timothy's father.

Known Victims

The Babysitter Killer's confirmed victims.

Confirmed

All of the following were killed in Oakland County, Michigan. Dates denote when the victims were last seen alive.

  • 1976:
    • February 15: Mark Stebbins, 12 (abducted, sexually assaulted and strangled; his body was found four days later)
    • December 22: Jill Robinson, 12 (abducted and shot in the face with a shotgun; her body was found four days later)
  • 1977:
    • January 2: Kristine Mihelich, 10 (abducted and smothered; her body was found nineteen days later)
    • March 16: Timothy King, 11 (sexually assaulted and suffocated; his body was found six days later)

Possible

  • 1976:
    • January 15: Cynthia Cadieux, 16 (abducted and bludgeoned; her body was found the next day)
    • August 7: Jane Allan, 14 (abducted and murdered by carbon monoxide poisoning; her body was found four days later)
  • Note: The Oakland County Child Killer was initially suspected of murdering 14-year-old Sheila Srock, who was raped and shot. It was later revealed that a man named Oliver Rhodes Andrews was actually responsible for killing her. He was convicted of her murder and is currently serving a life sentence.

On Criminal Minds

  • Season Twelve
    • "Devil's Backbone" and "The Storm" - While the Babysitter was never directly mentioned or referenced on the show, the case appears to have been an inspiration for Antonia Slade - Both were serial killers who targeted minors of both genders, took care of them at a secondary location for days, killed them with a gunshot to the head (though this was just one of the Babysitter's methods), and were given nicknames for their crimes.

Notes

  • It is debatable as to whether or not the Babysitter was a pedophile and/or ephebophile, as the bodies of 10-year-old Kristine Mihelich and 16-year-old Cynthia Cadieux (assuming the latter was one of his victims) showed no signs of sexual assault.

Sources

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