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Mark Douglas Stebbins was born on the 13th of September 1963 to parents Ruth and Lester Stebbins (who were divorced). He has one brother, Michael and he was in the 7th Grade at Lincoln Junior High School. He was a quiet boy, who kept mostly to himself. Mark is reported to have been the first victim of the Oakland County Child Killer.
Mark was last heard from on the afternoon of the 15th of February 1976 when he spoke to his mother, Ruth, on the telephone at approximately 1:30 p.m. He told her he was leaving the American Legion Post 374 to walk to his home in 429 E. Saratoga Street, Ferndale. This was an 8 minute drive from his home, or an hour and 24 minute walk (it’s approximately 4.2 miles between the two venues, according to Google Maps). Mark didn’t arrive home and by 11 p.m. his mother called the Ferndale Police Department and told them that her 12-year-old son, Mark, was missing.
Mark had red/blond medium length hair styled as seen in the photo that’s widely publicised. He was 4ft 8in tall, weighed 100 lbs with fair skin and blue eyes. He was last seen wearing a blue hooded parka, blue jeans, a red sweatshirt, and black rubber boots.
An interesting note is that all victims were similar. They all had red/brown or red/blonde hair, all had shoulder length hair, all had fair complexions and two of the victims were wearing red jackets, whilst the other two victims were wearing blue jackets. They were said to look similar in appearance.
According to the Project Anniversary report that was completed on the 21st of February 1978 (which can be found here) Mark was reportedly abducted from the area of Nine Mile and Livernois which is just 16 minutes walk from his home (0.8 miles). He was reportedly last seen on the 15th of February 1976 at 12:20 p.m. which was before he called his mother to tell her he was leaving the American Legion to walk home.
Murder and Autopsy
Mark’s body in a parking lot at Ten Mile and Greenfield four days after he was abducted and was reportedly clean. His body was found by a businessman named Mark Boetigheimer who had left his office at the 15660 West Ten Mile Road in Southfield, MI to walk to a drugstore at the New Orleans Mall. As he was passing a parking lot he glanced over to the northeast corner and noticed what he thought was a mannequin dressed in a blue jacket and jeans. As he walked closer he discovered that it wasn’t a mannequin, but the body of a young boy. He ran back to his office and called the Southfield Police Department who moved Mark’s body to their security garage to await transportation to the Oakland County Medical Examiner’s Office.
The police report stated that Mark appeared to be well cared for whilst in captivity, including caring for his normal biological needs. His body was clean, he was dressed in his own clothing just before or after death, and he was deposited along a roadside where he would be readily found.
Upon autopsy it was found his cause of death as asphyxiation by smothering. His manner of death upon autopsy which can be found, here, was ruled a homicide. His autopsy was completed by the Oakland County Medical Examiner’s Office on the 19th of February 1976 (the day he was recovered) by Dr. Thomas J. Pentinga.
When Mark’s body was found his eyes were closed and it’s reported this was done in a deliberate attempt to give the victim a natural look. There was no evidence of a ritualistic killing which had been examined as part of the Project Anniversary report. There was a question as to whether this was done for transportation purposes, so that if the child was seen in the vehicle whilst being transported to the dump site, it would give the appearance that he was asleep.
When his body was found his jacket had been tied securely, and the position of his body suggested that he was in a sitting or carrying position.
Mark had two lacerations of his scalp (which was reported as being crusted over) in the left parietal area (the parietal is the region between your temple and occipital scalp, and lies between vertical lines from the front and behind your ears and blend into the mid scalp at the outer canthal level).
He had punctate reddish-purple mottling of the face, eyelids, upper neck, anterior and posterior of portions of the body and ear lobes which is common when the blood flow to your face is disrupted.
The skin behind his right ear was bright red, but there is no notes in the autopsy as to why.
His nose had a small quantity of brown stained nasal secretion present and a small speck of dirt on his right nostril. It’s not mentioned in the autopsy if this was blood or normal secretion for a teenage boy.
His arms and ankles has light brown discolourations on his wrists and ankle areas which could have been a result of being bound. In the Project Anniversary report they do mention that Mark had rope burns on his wrists and ankles.
There was a special mention of a bilateral subconjunctival hemorrhage. Followed by an apparent ligature mark of his neck which the coroner considered to be an artifact and probably due to a jacket. This would have been the blue parka he was wearing being tied tight under his chin and potentially causing injury.
Trigger warning – in depth descriptions of as a result of sexual assault to follow.
There were no musculoskeletal injuries present, but the coroner found that Mark’s anus was patulous (which means there was significant injuries in this area most likely as a result of sexual assault), and there were lacerations around his anal orifice and the adjacent skin. This was not in the autopsy, but the multidisciplinary panel formed for the Project Anniversary report had said the lacerations in Mark’s anus was consistent with a hard object being inserted into his anus and left for some time, they’ve suggested this could be a vibrator or dildo of some kind. There is no mention as to whether or not Mark was raped by way of penetration by his killer.
His stomach contents had approximately 5 – 10 cc’s of brown fluid present, it’s not noted in the autopsy but in the Project Anniversary report there is a mention of a prophylactic being used on Mark. A prophylactic is used to prevent diseases, from our research it can be used as an antibiotic. Depending on the type of prophylactic used, it could have made Mark drowsy as another way to subdue him.
In summary the result of the autopsy was that Mark’s cause of death was asphyxia due to smothering, evidence of Mark having been anally raped, he had hemorrhages of hemorrhages of his subconjunctivale, thymus, heart and lungs. He also had acute pulmonary congestion and edema, acute cerebral edema and congestion and acute generalised visceral congestion. In layman’s terms this means he had broken blood vessels in his eyes (subconjunctivale), thymus (small gland in your lymphatic system), and in his heart and lungs. This is said to be common is cases of asphyxiation.
Unfortunately, it’s been reported that Mark’s body was washed before any fingerprints or DNA evidence could be collected. It also doesn’t give an approximate time of death which you see in most autopsies.
Formal Identification and Burial
Mark’s body was identified by family friends, Herman Goodwin and William Fisher.
Mark’s funeral was held at the Spaulding and Curten Funeral Home on the 23rd of February 1976, attended by family, friends and members of the community who showed up to support Mark’s family. His final place of rest is Christian Memorial Gardens West in Rochester Hills, Oakland County, MI.
Mack M. Gallop spoke to the Southfield Police and advised that on the morning of 9:30 a.m. he was walking his Schnauzer dog along the edge of the parking lot. He was an occupant of one of the buildings housed in Mr. Boetigheimers office. Mr. Gallop told the Southfield Police when he was walking his dog there was no evidence of a child being there as his dog, who was on a 20 foot leash would have come across the body and wanted to investigate it. This led police to believe that Mark had been dumped between the hours of 9:30 a.m. and just before noon (when Mr. Boetigheimer came across Mark’s body).
Please note these suspects are suspected to be the Oakland County Child Killer and are not specific to Mark Stebbins murder. These are in no particular order.
James Vincent Gunnels (61) – Living
James Vincent Gunnels was born on the 12th of October 1961 and is 61-years-old at the date of publishing this article.
James Vincent Gunnels is currently incarcerated in Kalamazoo County and is completing a three year sentence for delivery/manufacture of a controlled substance (methamphetamine) with a minimum sentence of 3 years, and a maximum sentence of 20 years. He was previously paroled in 2019, but as of the 25th of November 2022 he is back in the custody of Kalamazoo. He offended on the 25th of September 2015 and was incarcerated on the 10th of October 2016. He has 5 previous sentences ranging from larceny, breaking and entering an occupied building with intent, attempting to absconding prison, and unlawfully driving away an automobile. He has been in and out of prison since 1986.
James is linked to the murder of 10-year-old Kristine Mihelich after mitochondrial DNA from a hair found on the body of Kristine was tested in the early 00’s and matched him. As he was in the prison system his DNA would have been held in CODIS.
He was also polygraphed in Kristine’s case and failed. Polygraphs are not admissible in Court, and are said to be unreliable. He’s provided no clarity as to how his hair was on Kristine’s body.
He claims that Christopher Busch and Gregory Green sexually abused and assaulted him. He would have been 14-years-old when Mark Stebbin was abducted and murdered. The Michigan State Police reports have stated that JVG has been inconsistent in his stories about his relationship with Busch, and was caught on recording speaking to his sister about the DNA found on Kristine’s body. He claimed he wasn’t there when it happened, but didn’t provide any further clarity on how it got there.
Following the failed polygraph and inconsistent statements about the murders and his involvement with Green and Busch, he has not testified in the Oakland County Child Killings and is not considered a person of interest anymore. He may be considered an unreliable witness, but it’s quite surprising that despite his DNA having matched the hair found on Kristine, he’s not been charged in connection with her murder, or the murder of Mark Stebbins.
The image above was taken from one of our key resources, Catherine Broad. She has done an absolutely incredible job at covering this case on her website Catherine Broad Blog. We have linked her below and we recommend you check her out if you want to read more about the killings. The sketch is originally from Helen Dagner.com.
The image is of a young Gunnel’s taken from the Children of the Snow documentary which is based on the Oakland County Child Killer murders. They are a very close match, and the sketch was originally drawn after a witness reported seeing this individual at the sites of one of the other victims abduction/drop off. We will cover this in more detail when we cover that specific child’s case.
Gregory Woodward Green (45 at the time of his death) – deceased via heart attack, 1995
Not to be confused with another Gregory Green also of Michigan who killed his two children and two stepchildren.
Gregory Woodward Green was born on the 2nd of May 1950 in Detroit, Michigan. He was one of four children, and was the second youngest. He attended St Agnes High School and graduated in 1968. He resided in from Flint, Michigan. He was a Janitor, also coached little league and was a known convicted paedophile. He was friends with another suspect, Christopher Brian Busch, and a friend of Gunnel’s (above) who (Gunnel) later claims that Green sexually assaulted and abused him several times alongside Busch.
Gregory Green died of a heart attack whilst in prison watching TV in the common room. He passed in 1995 whilst serving a sentence for sexual abuse of over 50 victims, all ranging in ages and from differing states. He had been in and out of prison a number of times, including in 1977 when he was arrested and charged with criminal sexual conduct with a minor child. He would have been 26-years-old when Mark was murdered.
Similar to Gunnel his criminal record varied and ranged from traffic warrants, contributing to the del of a minor, feloney child molestion including sodomy and sex perversion, possession of a substance, and he was incarcerated on and off from 1968 – 1974.
For the felony child molestation he received 5 years probation after his in-patient stay at Patton State Hospital in Patton, California. This hospital is a forensic psychiatric hospital located in San Bernardino County, California. It was established in 1890 and opened in 1893 and is still open today (2022). It claims to, “provide treatment to forensically and civilly committed patients within a secure, private treatment area.” Green was housed here from 24th of January 1975 to the 7th of January 1976. He returned to Michigan on the 11th of February 1976 and was on parole when Mark Stebbins was abducted 11 short days later.
Green was last arrested on the 25th of January 1977 for sexually penetrating a 12-year-old boy in August 1976 in Flint, Michigan. It was this investigation that prompted a further look into Green’s background and it was then expanded to include a further 50 victims who had been sexually exploited and abused by Green, his friend Chris Busch, and another paedophile who was just 19-years-old at the time of his arrest, Douglas Bennett. Green was living with his dying father at the residence 5510 Baldwin, Flint, MI when he was last arrested.
It’s alleged that he took photos of the underage child he had abused, and threatened to send them to the child’s parents if he told. He also choked the boy, revived him and then took him to hospital for treatment. He admitted to the offence, but claimed it was his mental instability that caused him to do this. A number of his victims were on the Little League team he coached.
It’s also alleged that when he lived with his father (this is coming from Green’s own brother) he had a secret room where he let a minor “live”. The room was so secluded that it’s not known if the current residents know it’s even there, nor is it known if this was reported to the police and if they investigated it.
Due to the inconsistencies with how the criminal convictions were handled for both Greg Green and Christopher Brian Busch, there have been lots of reports that there was some kind of police cover up, this includes covering for a junior polygraph examiner who claimed that both Busch and Green had passed polygraphs, when they had in fact, failed and failed miserably. If you want to read more about this, go check out Catherine’s blog.
Christopher Brian Busch (27 at the time of his death) – deceased via suicide by shotgun.
Christopher Brian Busch was born on the 31st of July 1951 and was the youngest of four sons to parents Elsie and H.Lee Busch. Busch Senior was a Financial Director in Europe and the US for General Motors for over 40 years which meant the family moved a lot.
Busch attended LeRosey boarding school based in Switzerland, and when he graduated he stayed there as an Instructor of sorts. He then attended Wayne State University in Detroit upon his return to the USA. He attended the university for a year, and then later studied at a culinary institute in Midland, Michigan where he qualified as a Chef. His dad paid for him to open up a bar and restaurant called The Scotsman in Alma, Michigan which is also the mascot of the local Alma College. Christopher lived close to his restaurant in 736 N. State Street, Alma, Michigan before his 1977 arrest for sexually abusing a minor. He was arrested in The Scotsman in January 1977.
He moved into his parents home in Bloomfield Village, Michigan when he was placed on probation (despite Green receiving a different sentence for a similar offence). Christopher’s parents lived in the home from 1970 until July 1979 (remaining in the home after Christopher committed suicide). He worked at an assisted living facility as an Administrative Chef named Franklin Club Apartments. They were based 28301 Franklin Road, Southfield, Michigan and was only employed for around a month before he committed suicide. According to his previous manager and his brother, Chris was leaving the job to start a new position at Franklin Terrace Apartments on the 22nd of November 1978, the same day he committed suicide.
Busch was known to drive a 1975 Chevrolet Vega hatchback (which will be important in a later write up we will do on the murder of Timothy King). It was blue with white stripes painted on the side.
Christopher’s brother, Charles Nels Busch was interviewed by the FBI on the 22nd of April 2008 and Charles had described Christopher as being a “gregarious and happy guy who was physically big and heavy”. Christopher reportedly loved food, skiing and riding his motorcycle. He had struggled with living in Switzerland and then returning home to the US as according to him it was hard to go back to your own country.
Charles never allowed his son to be alone with Christopher, and Charles is the only living relative (with the exception of Charles’ children) alive that is directly related to Christopher.The others died at different times, one of the brothers was reportedly openly gay and an activist. He lived in England for several years before he passed away from leukemia. Another son died of congestive heart failure complicated by Diabetes, he still remained in Michigan at the time of his death in 2003. He reportedly struggled with alcoholism. Then, Christopher, who died by suicide by shotgun on the 22nd of November 1978 in his parents home. A sketch of what internet sleuths believe to be of Mark Stebbins was found on his wall. We’ve included a close up of it below the gallery of the suicide scene.
The victim of the sexual abuse was Ken Bowman, the authorities reportedly filed charges on his behalf. Green (as we mentioned previously) was arrested in January 1977 for the sexual abuse of his victim and several of the children on his Little League team. When Green was arrested he named Busch as being involved in the murder of Mark Stebbins. Green allegedly told investigators that he and Busch had sexually abused Ken Bowman in Oakland County and that Ken was aware Busch had previously murdered a young boy. Ken was interviewed by the investigators following Green’s interview, and the outcome of that interview led to the arrest of Christopher Busch in his restaurant.
Busch had several charges brought against him which included abuse cases in Midland, Montmorency, Flint and Oakland counties. Oakland was the last county to file any kind of charges against Busch and they didn’t investigate claims from Busch himself that he found his victims through the Big Brother program he was involved in. In every instance/charge he was given probation. It doesn’t look like he spent any time incarcerated despite his confessions, and the information given from Green and Gunnels.
Looking at our research we can’t be sure when this was made public, but it does seem to be tied with another child’s murder. The father of Timothy King had requested the release of information about Christopher Busch’s involvement in child pornography and other crimes he had committed against minors. On Wikipedia, it’s here that it’s mentioned that whilst Christopher’s death has been ruled a suicide, evidence on the crime scene has led people to believe that it may have been a murder. A few odd things had stood out, there is no blood splatter (which you can see is absent from the photos), he was tucked neatly in bed, and the entry wound from the shotgun is straight between the eyes. There were four other shell casings found at the scene, and there’s no splatter on the bed, the wall or anywhere near the body. Police also found bloodstained ligatures in his room, but since the alleged suicide, the State Police have released a 3,400 page document to Barry King, father of Timothy King. Catherine Broad, Timothy King’s sister, has uploaded several of these documents to her blog.
Trigger warning: suicide and images from the scene of a suicide.
Theodore “Ted” Lamborgine (81) – Living
None of the suspects on this list are decent human beings, but Ted Lamborgine is probably one of the worst so far. His first known offence was committed in 1976 and continued right up until the 1980’s, but the kicker is, he was only arrested for running a paedophile ring in 2006, then sentenced in 2007 and was said to lure children with toys, candies, soft drinks, money, drugs and alcohol. Police detectives watched him for 18 months before they arrested him in his home, he had been a suspect in the paedophile ring in February 2005, and was arrested in December 2006.
He was given several life sentences without the possibility of parole. If you look up his offences he has 14 different offences of criminal sexual misconduct with a minor ranging from the 1st to the 3rd level (the levels vary, for example level 3 is with a person from the age of 13 – 15, level 2 is someone under the age of 13, and level 1 is reserved for the worst kind of paedophilia). The paedophile ring was ran in the Detroit area of Michigan between the 1970’s and 80’s. He plead out when he was charged, and according to this prisoner profile he’s only got 3 active sentences, all life sentences without parole. He’s currently incarcerated in Oaks County Prison, and when the judge sentenced him she made reference to what other prisoners would do to people like him. It’s common knowledge that peadophiles are often beaten and raped repeatedly whilst in prison, and some are sent to solitary confinement in order to avoid riots or potential murders. It’s not known if he’s had anything take place whilst in prison, but as of writing he’s still alive and serving out his sentence.
He was questioned about the Oakland County Child Killer murders and offered leniency if he was willing to provide the Prosecutor from Wayne County, Kym Worthy, with information on the crimes and subject to completing a polygraph, but he declined and instead took his life sentences he was handed down in 2007. He was connected with another known paedophile in the area, Richard Lawson, who hasn’t been considered as a suspect in any of the crimes relating to the murder of the children in Oakland. Richard Lawson is serving a life sentence for murder (after killing his boss in Livonia in 1989), but was charged with 28 counts of criminal sexual misconduct with minors in connection with the paedophile ring. Richard Lawson named a deceased member of the paedophile ring as someone who had been involved in the killing of Mark Stebbins and other children, the name he gave was Bobby Moore. He gave this name directly to the media as he was led out of the courtroom following proceedings.
Prior to his arrest and retirement, Ted worked for Ford Motor in Brook Park, and resided in Parma Heights, Michigan. In October 2007, when his name was brought into the potential suspect list for the murder of Mark Stebbins, Mark’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Lamborgine seeking $25,000 in damages and it is alleged in the lawsuit that Lamborgine abducted Mark and held him captive at the Royal Oak house for the four days he was missing in February 1976, before he smothered Mark to death during a sexual assault by either using a pillow or his own hand to smother the little boy. Lamborgine was never formally charged with Mark’s death, and on top of the lawsuit an attorney working with the Stebbins family, namely Mark’s brother, Michael sought compensation for funeral costs, but claimed the money is secondary to getting justice for Mark. From the research we have done it doesn’t seem like Michael ever received this compensation, and there has been some information shared by Helen Dagner on her forum about the Oakland County Child Killer that the attorney was just doing this to raise his own profile.
David Norberg (35, at the time of death) – Deceased, car accident
David was born in 1945 and resided in Warren, Michigan. He was killed in 1981 after his Jeep lost control and rolled over on a Campbell County road about 35 miles northwest of Gillette. His Jeep had skidded over a cattle guard on a country road and onto the left shoulder, before skidding to the right and rolling resulting in fatal injury.
Not much is really known about David Norberg, and the little we do know seems to be a bit of a stretch in terms of his suspicion. He drove a blue Opel around the time a witness had raised this being linked to one of the abductions. His wife mentioned David was into tying her up with strips of fabric, and a victim named Jane Allen was tied with strips of fabric when she was recovered from a river in Ohio.
In 1999 his body was exhumed with authorisation from the family. Police and forensics took DNA from David’s corpse and tested it against the DNA found with Jane’s body, but the DNA came back negative. He was also linked to the disappearance of Kimberley King.
Arch Edward Sloan, (81) – Living
Arch Edward Sloan was born on the 2nd of November 1941 and grew up in Southfield, Michigan. Before he was jailed he worked as a mechanic. He is currently incarcerated in Gus Harrison Correctional Facility serving two life terms without parole for criminal sexual conduct in the first degree . The offence took place in 1983 and he was sentenced in 1985. He was previously charged and convicted for gross indecency between males in 1959 when homosexuality was considered a crime. It looks like he served the full maximum sentence of 5 years as he was jailed in 1959 and released in 1963 and the charge was considered inactive.
According to an article in the Detroit Free Press he was evaluated in the 1980’s by a psychiatrist who stated, “He is only capable of sexual satisfaction with children.” It was also claimed he had a mental illness which meant he couldn’t control his urges, but did not state what his mental illness was. For clarity as of 2022 being a paedophile is not a mental illness. Despite this, his lawyer tried (and thankfully failed) to declare him as mentally incompetent to stand trial. Even Sloan’s mother, Caroline Sloan wrote to the judge to ask what the point of jailing him was as it wouldn’t cure his illness, despite admitting she knew what her son did was wrong. She wrote, and we quote, “I know what Arch did was wrong, but Your Honour, will locking him up in a jail help his problem?”
The incident that brought him the life sentence took place in 1983 when he had a coworker’s son stay overnight. He challenged him to a race, if the boy won, he would get a dollar, but if he lost he had to perform a sex act on Sloan. The boy subsequently lost and was sexually assaulted by Sloan. On the same day, later in the evening, he plied the child with soda and wine before bed, then made the young boy (aged 10 at the time) strip, he then raped the little boy. He dropped the little boy off at a gas station with a $5 bill and told him not to tell anyone
The police pinned him as a suspect in the murder of Mark Stebbins and others early in the investigation, and they searched his 1966 Pontiac with his permission where they found DNA evidence in the form of hairs. The hairs were stored until DNA had advanced and when they were tested it was said to match some of the victims, but didn’t match his own hair. He’s refused thus far to cooperate with investigators, but police are trying to ascertain (as of the article released in 2012) if he loaned his car to a friend as he had two other vehicles at the time. It’s not known if they were searched, but he had apparently mentioned this when he pleaded to keep his job in the prison garden, he was there for life so leave him to it and let him keep his job gardening as he would not say anything, anyway.
Having dug deeper (thanks again to Catherine Broad) it seems that the DNA matched hairs found on the jacket of Kristine Mihelich who was the third victim of the Oakland County Child Killer, and James Vincent Gunnels. No one has provided evidence that would exonerate Gunnels, Busch, Green, or Sloan. Norberg, as I mentioned above, was cleared via DNA evidence. However, according to the article written in 2012 via Detroit Free Press and followed up by The Daily Mail investigators also found a single strand of human hair on Mark’s clothing (remember, his body was washed so no DNA evidence was found) also matched DNA profile of two hairs that were found in another victim’s underwear and in his nasal cavity (Timothy King, Catherine’s brother).
Active cold case. Arch Sloan is the most recent person of interest and the case is still ongoing.
It was stated that the Oakland County Child Killer task force was originally shut down in 1978 after exhausting it’s 2 million dollar budget. There have been reports from several sources that the police have been less than helpful to the victims families, and any requests are met with ill-mannered and unprofessional responses. We have seen evidence of this, and it’s a shame, the families are entitled to challenge, they lost a child, brother, sister, cousin, nephew/niece.
Contact the Oakland County Task Force on (833) – 784 – 9425 if you have any information you think may be relevant to the case.
You can watch the docuseries Children in the Snow, here.