Much ado about nothing?

So I wrote earlier about how they were digging up a suspected mass grave in Michigan, and thought as many as five missing girls might be there. I’ll list them again:

  1. Cynthia Coon, 13, missing from Washtenaw County since January 19, 1970
  2. Nadine Jean O’Dell, 16, missing from Inkster since August 16, 1974
  3. Kimberly Alice King, 12, missing from Warren since September 16, 1979
  4. Kim Marie Larrow, 13, missing from Canton since June 8, 1981
  5. Kellie Marie Brownlee, 17, missing from Novi since May 20, 1982

Well, after a solid week out there with shovels and relatives pitching in (!), the dig is finished and they found…nothing. No human remains.

Obviously this is a profound disappointment for everybody and I have to wonder if there’s anyone out there at all. The police haven’t given up, at least not officially; they stated they quit in part because of weather and in part because they were “evaluating today what our next step is.”

So they’re digging up a suspected mass grave in Michigan

For the past several days cops have been excavating a farm in Michigan outside of Detroit, where they think several longtime missing girls are buried. The property used to be owned by Arthur Nelson Ream, who is currently serving a life sentence for the rape and murder of Cynthia Jocelyn Zarzycki.

Cindy was 13 when she disappeared in 1986. Her boyfriend, Scott Ream, was Arthur Ream’s son. Arthur told Cindy he was going to have a surprise party for Scott’s birthday, and invited her to come. She brought a mixtape to give to Scott. But there was no party; it was all an excuse for Arthur to get her into his car.

In 2008, Arthur lead investigators to Cindy’s body, buried in a shallow grave along the Clinton River in Macomb Township, Michigan. Well, apparently after his imprisonment he started talking about some other murders he allegedly committed.

The other possible victims (all from Michigan) include:

  1. Cynthia Coon, 13, missing from Washtenaw County since January 19, 1970
  2. Nadine Jean O’Dell, 16, missing from Inkster since August 16, 1974
  3. Kimberly Alice King, 12, missing from Warren since September 16, 1979
  4. Kim Marie Larrow, 13, missing from Canton since June 8, 1981
  5. Kellie Marie Brownlee, 17, missing from Novi since May 20, 1982

And here’s some articles about it:

Select It Sunday: Kimberly Alice King

This week’s Select It Sunday was chosen by Celeste K.: it’s Kimberly Alice King, who disappeared from Warren, Michigan on September 16, 1979, just a little over a month before she would have turned thirteen.

Kim was spending the night at a neighborhood friend’s home when she sneaked out of the house and called her sister from a pay phone at 11:00 p.m. I’m not sure why she sneaked out or why she called her sister: maybe she just did it for the thrills and wanted to share her secret with someone? In any case, this is the last time anyone saw her.

There was the inevitable speculation that Kim ran away, a theory the police no longer believe in, and also speculation that she was a victim of the as-yet-unidentified Oakland County Child Killer. If she was, she was the only victim whose body was never found — he liked to leave his victims’ bodies lying out in plain sight.

If she’s still alive, Kimberly King would be 50 years old now. But I doubt she lived long after making that final phone call to her sister in 1979.

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

Article on Kimberly King

Nancy Grace has done a cold case feature on Kimberly Alice King, a twelve-year-old who disappeared from Warren, Michigan in 1979. The article has a better photo of her.

There is speculation that Kimberly’s disappearance may be linked to a series of still-unsolved child murders going on in the area at that time. The killer was called “The Babysitter” because he held his victims for days after abducting them and fed, bathed and otherwise cared for him before he killed them. I remember reading somewhere that one missing boy’s mother went on TV, promising that if her son returned home, she would cook him a chicken dinner. This was apparently his favorite food. When the boy’s body turned up, he had chicken in his stomach. Curiously, one of the victims had the last name King, though he wasn’t related to Kimberly. King is a pretty common surname, though.

One major difference between Kimberly’s disappearance and the Babysitter murders, though: their bodies were left in plain sight and were found quickly, whereas Kimberly has never been found.

I think it is a heck of a coincidence to have Kimberly disappear and the child serial killings going on in the same area at the same time. But that’s not enough to indicate she was a victim of the Babysitter. A thought: apparently this man kept his victims around until he got tired of them. Possibly for some reason he never got tired of Kimberly, and she’s living in a Jaycee Dugard like situation now? That’s probably the best we can hope for.