Possible Early Murders
The Case (Mark Stebbins)
The Case (Jill Robinson)
The Case (Kristine Mihelich)
The Case (Tim King)
This case would officially start with a boy named Mark Stebbins. Mark from all accounts was a likeable 12 year old in the seventh grade, who had lived with his mother Ruth Stebbins after his parents had split up when he was 5, and when he grew up, young Mark had his sites set on becoming a Marine. The last time he would ever see his Mother, would be around 12:25 in the afternoon on Feb. 15, 1976 at The American Legion Hall on 9 mile and Livernois in Ferndale. It was a party for Ruth and her co-workers, and at the time there was a pool tournament going on. According to Ruth, Mark had asked her for money to go to the local hobby shop, to which she said "no" because he had already been given his allowance. The little boy didn't seem mad, or even upset by this. He just simply said "okay", and that he had wanted to go home to watch a movie. So Ruth said goodbye to her son and expected to see him at home later. Mark then set out on his short three block walk home. Later in the day at around 7:15 Ruth called home to check on Mark, but there had been no answer. It appeared Mark wasn't home. When Ruth arrived at the house a little before 9:00 p.m. Mark still wasn't there. Alarmed by this Ruth decided that she'd wait one more hour and then call the police. Mark it would seem was missing for about 10 hours, so Ruth finally called the police. "We haven't had any kidnappings in Ferndale in 10 years," said the police. They just assumed maybe he was out with friends or possibly a run away, and would likely turn up soon.
With Mark not turning up, the police began searching abandoned buildings and searching around every conceivable location. According to Ruth she stayed up all night laying awake the night mark dissappeared. "I kept hearing noises and thinking it was Mark, and the next few days I set three places at the table in the hope that he'd come home."
Four days later at just before noon on February 19, at a parking lot, Mark was found dead, his body placed there, curled-up as if he were sleeping near a dumpster in the parking lot of an office building in Oak Park (some reports claim Ten Mile Road and Greenfield in Southfield, Greenfield is the boundary between the two cities). It appeared he had only been dead for less than 8 hours. Police at the scene noticed bruising and wounds indicating Mark had been beaten and tied up. He was probably held for some time in the trunk of a car. The exact manner of death is often reported differently, but some reports stated that there appeared to be a ligature wound around the small boy's throat. Indicating he had likely been strangled to death.(Although newspaper accounts at the time reported two different versions of his death. In most versions it states that mark had been smothered.) The boy had also been molested by his killer. Mark had been washed clean by his killer, and nails manicured, so no evidence would be left under the fingernails. His clothes were washed, dried, pressed. Then he was redressed, his shoes put back on, his coat zipped back up, and even his hood pulled up over his head on his jacket. He was then tenderly placed at the dump site in the sleeping position. Because of this the killer would earn the nickname "The Babysitter".
At this point Ferndale police were involved due to the missing person's report, and now the Southfield police were part of this murder. An error in retrospect by police soon followed when Southfield police moved Mark's body before the county medical examiner had even had the chance to arrive at the scene. Mark's body had been taken to the Southfield Police Department, rather than directly to the morgue. Police then removed Mark's clothing before he was sent to the morgue, which likely contaminated and destroyed any evidence in the process. The police with the help of local psychiatrist Bruce Danto, quickly went back to the dump site, and placed a child-sized manikin dressed as Mark was at the drop-off site in an attempt to lure the killer back to the scene. Because of shoddy police work no real evidence could be recovered in this crime. Before forensics could even get to the crime scene Mark's body had already been taken to the morgue and stripped of clothes destroying any possible evidence left behind.
After Mark's funeral, at the exact spot where Mark had been placed, the police would find a funeral card from Mark's service. Possibly left there by the killer as a taunt, suggesting he was at Mark's funeral. "I didn't recognize everyone who came," stated Ruth Stebbins. "I might even have shaken hands with the killer." After all this Mark's 17 year old brother Michael stopped studying, and started using drugs and alcohol, and had a run in with the law. Ruth was too distraught to work, and soon found herself depending on welfare, and taking Valium from time to time. To this day every time Ruth hears about a child's death it brings back memories of Mark. "Every time a child has been killed since Mark, it happens to me all over. I still think about it every day." Mark's case quickly went unsolved, although it was felt at the time that Mark's killer had been driven to commit this murder with the recent spat of homicides in the area (Cynthia Cadieux and Sheila Shrock). Possibly as a grab for attention in the media.