New suspect identified in Oakland County Child Killer case

Authorities announced they have identified a brand-spanking-new suspect in the Oakland County Child Killings in Michigan in 1970s. He was also known as “the Babysitter” because he kept the victims — there were at least two boys and two girls — captive for several days and bathed and fed them before he killed them.

The cops have DNA evidence to support their case against this suspect — his DNA matches hair found on one of the victims — and they also said that hair from the same animal, probably a dog, was found on all four victims. The suspect is identified as James Vincent Gunnels, a 49-year-old from Kalamazoo, Michigan with a history of property crimes. He is not in custody, as the police don’t have enough evidence to charge him. He was only in his teens at the time of the murders.

[I]nvestigators believe Gunnels may have been part of a group involved in the child killings or a lure to draw the kids closer to the killer. Gunnels was only 16-years-old at the time. Police investigating Gunnels have learned he was molested by a key suspect in the Oakland County Child Killer case — a man named Christopher Busch. Busch was convicted of sexually assaulting Gunnels.

From another article:

Gunnels said he was molested by Busch twice, once in Midland County and once in Montmorency County at the Busch family cottage on Ess Lake. He said he cannot remember the dates.

Gunnels insisted he has “no idea” how his hair got on Kristine’s body. When asked if it was possible that the hair had been transferred while he rode in Busch’s car he responded: “I haven’t a clue, no clue at all,” he said “There are a million ‘ifs.'” Concerning the admission to his sister, Gunnels said his words were being parsed: “I was there when what happened to me happened. I wasn’t there when anything else happened.

Busch is now dead; he killed himself in 1978. Incidentally, he owned a white terrier at the time of the murders. If the killer was Busch, it would explain why he apparently hasn’t struck since then (unless you count Kimberly King, I’m getting to her).

There are four known victims of the Oakland County Child Killer. Another possible is Kimberly King, a 12-year-old who disappeared in 1979 and was never found. I doubt she’s one of the victims, though. The other victims’ bodies were left out in plain view and were found quickly; no trace of Kimberly ever turned up.

Click on Detroit
The Detroit Free Press
The Detroit News (with pic of victim Kristine Mihelich)
M Live

9 thoughts on “New suspect identified in Oakland County Child Killer case

  1. Princess Shantae May 24, 2011 / 9:58 pm

    He’s a little bit of a slippery talker, isn’t he? Doesn’t deny, doesn’t confirm.
    I read enough FBI profiler books to know those killings wer what they call highly organized and that no 16yo kid did them by himself. If he’s involved rather than just his hair was on the victim because he hung around with this Bush guy, he was helping somebody else.
    What about that other guy Lamborghini or something? Didn’t his DNA tie him to the crimes?

  2. Laura Brown May 25, 2011 / 2:00 am

    He may well have been involved, but if the authorities don’t have enough evidence to charge him, they shouldn’t go around implicating him in public. He’s innocent until proven guilty, after all. Irresponsible statements like this (I believe prosecutors pulled the same “we think they did it but we can’t prove it” crap with JonBenet Ramsey’s parents, and with Woody Allen when he was accused of molesting his daughter) are just a way to blight someone’s life without ever giving them a chance to clear their name in court.

  3. Princess Shantae May 25, 2011 / 10:33 am

    Just ask Richard Jewell. And that other Richard that was implicated in Elizabeth Smart’s case. Ed Smart himself went around saying how sure he was the man was the one who’d took Elizabeth. He ended up having a stroke and dying or something.

    • Meaghan May 25, 2011 / 4:00 pm

      If the police never publicly named suspects before charges were filed, the Charley Project would be a lot less detailed.

  4. Pete Avery June 5, 2011 / 10:17 pm

    Does anyone realize there are at least 9,996 suspects to date?
    How many times have the detectives had the wrong guy?
    At least 9,995 times.

    • Meaghan June 5, 2011 / 10:26 pm

      That’s not unusual in serial killer cases. There were originally like 10,000 people on the suspect list for the serial killer who turned out to be Ted Bundy.

  5. B September 12, 2011 / 1:51 am

    I have a very serious suspect who fits not only all criteria including pick-up and dump sites but actions performed on the children and a perfect personality to look at, a Hazel Park Police Officer at the time of the abductions.
    This is no wacko report.
    I simply do not know who to contact with more detailed information.
    When the subject came up in recent years he attempted to get me to “climb in his trunk and “fix his lock”.
    Take it how you like, he is a true sociopath.

    • Ibelieveu September 12, 2011 / 7:36 pm

      B how can I get more information about your suspect? Police officer involvement has been cropping up A LOT in the past 2 years. There was much speculation in 1977 and 1978 that a police officer might have been involved. Meaghan, is there a way you can vet me and then put me and B in touch? The window is quickly closing for any of this type of information to be acted upon.

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