Like the avid fisherman he is during off hours, Berkley Detective Sgt. Ray Anger has cast many investigative lines during 36 years of police work, but as he retires today it is the one that got away that haunts him most -- the Oakland County child killer.
"I'm going to be like many investigators before me and regret that we couldn't solve this and find a suspect," Anger, 66, said of the killer of four children abducted from the streets of their hometowns in 1976 and 1977. Their young corpses turned up from three to 19 days later along roadsides.
Mark Stebbins, 12, of Ferndale disappeared Feb. 15, 1976; Jill Robinson, 12, of Royal Oak was last seen Dec. 22, 1976; Kristine Mihelich, 10, was taken Jan. 7, 1977 in Berkley; and Timothy King, 11, vanished outside a Maple Road drugstore March 16, 1977
All the victims were smothered, except Robinson who was blasted with a shotgun.
Anger was a Berkley patrolman who took the missing person report on Mihelich from her mother at the Berkley bowling alley where she worked.
"Kristine and my older son were classmates," Anger said. "After I took the missing person report I couldn't help having a gut feeling it would not turn out well."
The killings suddenly stopped after King's body was found. No one knew whether the killer died, was jailed or left the area. A couple of hundred investigators worked the case and took about 20,000 tips.
Anger spent thousands of hours on police time and his own investigating the killings in search of a suspect.( To Be Continued}
Post by Helen Dagner on Sept 13, 2011 1:16:26 GMT -5
August 31, 1999 BY BRIAN MURPHY, JULIE EDGAR AND HUGH McDIARMID JR. FREE PRESS STAFF WRITERS RECLUSE, Wyo. -- Beneath a sloping patch of sun-scorched grassland, Berkley Detective Ray Anger hopes to uncover the answer to a mystery that terrified a generation of Oakland County children and parents and tormented authorities for more than two decades. THE VICTIMS Mark Stebbins, 12, Ferndale -- Last seen walking home from 9 Mile and Livernois on Feb. 15, 1976; his body was found four days later in the parking lot of a Southfield office complex. He had been suffocated. Jill Robinson, 12, Royal Oak -- Ran away from home after an argument with her mother on Dec. 22, 1976; her body was found four days later off I-75 near Big Beaver in Troy. She had been shot in the head. Kristine Mihelich, 10, Berkley -- Last seen at a 7-Eleven store on 12 Mile near Coolidge on Jan. 2, 1977; her body was found 19 days later in the snow off Bruce Road near Telegraph and 12 Mile in Franklin. She had been suffocated. Timothy King, 11, Birmingham -- Last seen talking to a white man in a blue Gremlin in a pharmacy parking lot near Maple and Woodward on March 16, 1977; his body was found five days later, 100 yards south of 8 Mile on Gill Road in Livonia. He had been suffocated. But some veteran investigators who have hunted the Oakland County Child Killer for 23 years are skeptical that skeletal remains of former Warren autoworker David Norberg will solve the mystery. Norberg's body will be pried from the Recluse Cemetery this morning to compare his DNA with hair found on the body of one of four youngsters who were kidnapped and killed in 1976-77. Anger has pursued Norberg for more than 10 years. A cross that was identified as belonging to one of the victims was found among his possessions after he died in a 1981 car crash in northeast Wyoming. Norberg was questioned several times during the search and once was cleared as a suspect. "I don't want to sound like a wet blanket. There are coincidences, but there are a lot of people who have those coincidences," Birmingham Police Cmdr. Don Studt said Monday. Studt, one of more than 200 officers who formed a task force to investigate the slayings, praised Anger as a pit bull who has never stopped working the cases. "I hope there's some conclusive action either way." From February 1976 to March 1977, the bodies of Mark Stebbins, 12, of Ferndale; Jill Robinson, 12, of Royal Oak; Kristine Mihelich, 10, of Berkley; and Timothy King, 11, of Birmingham were discovered fully clothed along roads in or near Oakland County. The children had been snatched off the streets, held captive for four to 19 days, and fed and bathed before they were killed, evidence showed. The two boys were sexually assaulted, police reports said. Fear-gripped parents locked doors and lectured children about being enticed by strangers as the task force fielded hundreds of tips and set up a massive dragnet. As quickly as the killings began, they ended, and by the end of the '70s, some investigators wondered if they would ever be solved. Despite the doubts, Anger said he is convinced that the cross found in Norberg's possessions belonged to Kristine Mihelich. Her mother did not remember the cross, which was engraved with "Kristine." But it was identified under hypnosis by an aunt. "It was a prize from the Romeo Peach Festival carnival, and she detailed what the engraving on the cross looked like. She hadn't seen it in 15 years," Anger said Monday. What's more, Norberg bore a resemblance to a sketch of the suspect made after Timothy King's murder. Timothy was last seen talking to a man in a blue American Motors Gremlin; Norberg drove a similar car at the time. "The very first investigators cleared him, but they never talked to him; they talked to his wife," Anger said. "Based on that conversation, they cleared him. Then they went back and reinterviewed him, and this guy did not come up with the right answers." Others aren't so certain. Investigators believed the killer lured the children before abducting them. Norberg drank heavily, used drugs and carried himself in a way that wouldn't endear him to children, Studt said. Jerry Tobias, a Birmingham child psychologist and former task force member, interviewed Norberg in the late '70s and came to the same conclusion. "He wasn't the kind of guy I'd think kids would respond to," Tobias said. To escape police scrutiny, Norberg, his daughter and wife, Sharon, moved to Recluse in 1980 during an oil boom in the isolated area of cattle farms and coal mining pits. Carol McGee's daughter was a sixth-grade classmate of Norberg's daughter, Yvonne, in Recluse. Norberg routinely drove the kids 25 miles to basketball practices and took them fishing. "After the detectives started calling me in 1986, I asked my daughter if he had given her any reason to believe he was dangerous," McGee said. "My daughter said, 'What the hell are you talking about?' " At the cemetery Monday, a worker mowed the dry, brown grass near Norberg's tombstone, a modest slab of granite inscribed, "Pvt. U.S. Army, Vietnam," in anticipation of a media onslaught. Anger and a contingent of Oakland County officials are to oversee the exhumation. The attention unsettled the quiet county of 32,000, where no one can recall an exhumation. For Anger, the genetic sleuthing is part of a drive to solve Kristine Mihelich's 1977 death. Anger took the missing person's report from her parents. His son, Todd, now a Novi detective, was in her class at Pattengill Elementary School, and Anger knew her parents through the Parent-Teacher Association. Someday, he said, the case will be solved. "If it doesn't happen when I'm working at it, hopefully someone will carry on with it," Anger said. "The absolute bottom line is, somebody out there absolutely knows." BRIAN MURPHY can be reached at 248-586-2611, JULIE EDGAR at 248-586-2605, HUGH MCDIARMID JR. at 248-858-2292.
Post by Helen Dagner on Sept 15, 2011 0:30:50 GMT -5
Berkley Police Sgt. Ray Anger, a 31-year police veteran who was part of the original task force, also is hopeful. Anger, who has lived and breathed the Mihelich case nearly his entire career, was part of a group that traveled to Wyoming in August 1999 to exhume the body of a former Warren man, David Norberg, who was suspected in the murders. A necklace found among Norberg's belongings after he died in a car crash in 1981 was engraved with "Kristine" and it was thought that if a hair found with her body matched one of Norberg's locks, they might have corroborative evidence that he was the killer. There was no match. "One of these days someone is going to pick up a telephone and call one of the victim's parents and say 'I have some news for you.' " said Anger. "I hope that person to make that call is me. It would be a comfort to the family and certainly a highlight to a career." One thing investigators agree upon is that the killer, or someone who witnessed or knew something about the crimes, could still be alive and eager to clear their conscience before they die. Not content with waiting for that one break, they will continue to run down leads, both new and old, said Detective Sgt. Dave Robertson, whose father, retired State Police Capt. Robert Robertson, headed the original task force in the 1970s.