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Aug 23, 2:49 PM EDT

New DNA evidence found in Oakland County child killings

Associated Press Writer

DETROIT (AP) -- Advances in DNA technology are opening up new leads in the more than three-decade-old Oakland County child killer case.

Detective Sgt. Garry Gray says investigators have found new evidence from clothing belonging to one or more of the four children slain over a 13-month period beginning in 1976.

Gray would not give more details about the new evidence, but says it is in addition to a hair sample taken off one of the victims.

The new sample will be compared to DNA of 12 primary suspects.

"Some (of the suspects) are dead. Some are free and some are in the slammer," Gray said. "Some aren't even remotely suspects now, but we'll check anyway. It's not that they are cleared. It means what we used before just didn't match."

One suspect who has not been cleared is Ted Lamborgine of Parma Heights, Ohio.

Lamborgine was sentenced in April to three life terms for sexually assaulting boys in Detroit in the 1970s and 1980s. He had pleaded guilty to 15 sex-related charges.

When he was arrested in December, the Wayne County prosecutor called him a "promising suspect" in the Oakland County child killings.

"We offered him a deal if he gave up the information we thought he had," Gray said. "We would put him in a federal prison and give him a new identity. We tried every angle to solve the case. He still chose not to take it."

Gray and Detective Sgt. David Robertson announced two years ago they were reinvestigating the deaths of Mark Stebbins and Jill Robinson, both 12; Kristine Mihelich, 10; and Timothy King, 11. They were suffocated between February 1976 and March 1977. Their bodies were found after each went missing for periods ranging from three to 19 days. Two had been raped, and one also was shot in the face with a shotgun.

Early on, tips came in daily, but have slowed since.

"My God! The flood gates opened," Gray said. "Many of the people who called had called years ago."

Gray said they have nearly 26,000 documented investigations as part of the case, including the 1979 disappearance of 11-year-old Kimberly King from Warren, Mich.

"I haven't officially added her, but I have to be open," he said. "During that time there were eight other missing kids.

"We're investigators. (The case) gets cold and hot. It peaks and valleys. If I was a parent of one of the children, and police didn't do it, I'd be disappointed."

2007 The Associated Press.


For the first time in a 30-year investigation, a civil lawsuit has been filed by the family of a child who died at the hands of who police call the Oakland County Child Killer.

The wrongful death lawsuit names Ted Lamborgine, 65, as one of the group who collectively raped and murdered several children in the '70s and '80s.

“We believe that it was probably more likely than not, that it was a group of people that worked together and they are collectively are known as The Oakland County Child Killer.” Said Victim Mark Stebbins’s attorney Elizabeth Harvard.

The family of Mark Stebbins, one of the children slain, filed the lawsuit against Lamborgine.

"The police have the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. In a civil lawsuit, we don't have that same burden. Ours is more likely than not," said David Brinkley. "Under the circumstances, we believe we can utilize techniques a civil lawsuit permits and we believe we could perhaps push the investigation a little further."

Brinkley said the evidence includes statements made in a separate child molestation case against Lamborgine, where a boy claims he was sexually molested and nearly suffocated to death in Royal Oak.

Lamborgine was charged last year with molesting six children in the Cass Corridor in the 70s and 80s. Police said he would lure boys in with food, soda and drugs for the purpose of sexually assaulting them.

The new suit will give attorneys new subpoena powers against Lamborgine and others that may have information about the case.

The Stebbins family is not seeking monetary damages. They said they are only filing the lawsuit to help in the investigation to get everyone responsible in jail.

He didn’t say ‘Not me, I didn’t do that.’ He said, ‘God will forgive me.’ Not me, I won’t,’” said Stebbins’ David Binkley.

The family of Timothy King is also expected to join in on the lawsuit.

Prosecutors said Lamborgine and Richard Lawson, who is already serving a life sentence for murder were part of a sex ring.

The two are accused of molesting 12 boys.


Opening statements to begin in sex-abuse trial
February 1, 2008



A Wayne County jury is expected to begin hearing opening statements Monday in the child-molestation case against a man accused of abusing a boy from Detroit's Cass Corridor area decades ago.

Richard Lawson, 60, who also has claimed to know the identity of the Oakland County child killer, is charged with five counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct with a person less than 13 years old. Authorities say the abuse happened between 1980 and 1982 and involved one boy

Lawson, who is representing himself in the case, appeared Thursday in Wayne County Circuit Court during jury selection. His crooked necktie caused a slight divergence.

Circuit Judge Annette Jurkiewicz Berry suggested that he fix the necktie, which was on top of his shirt collar. Seeing him fumbling, the judge told the clerk to help him. With his tie in place, jury selection began.

Lawson, who is serving life in prison for a 1989 murder in Livonia, has claimed to know who killed two girls and two boys in Oakland County in the 1970s. No one has been charged in the slayings, and Lawson has not cooperated with authorities.

The judge's generosity Thursday apparently stopped with Lawson's necktie.

After the jury was told to return to court at 8:45 a.m. Monday, Assistant Prosecutor Patrick Muscat asked Berry if the trial could start later because it was the day after the Super Bowl. She denied the request.
(From todays Detroit Free Press)




Man found guilty of molesting boy in '80s
Ex-chief confirms he was informer
February 6, 2008



A Wayne County jury deliberated for about an hour Tuesday before it convicted a man -- already serving a life sentence for murder -- of molesting a boy in Detroit several decades ago.

Richard Lawson, 61, was convicted of five counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct..

Lawson, who claimed he was a secret informer for the Detroit Police Department at the time he molested the boy in the Cass Corridor area, was indeed paid by the department for information in the 1980s, former Police Chief Ike McKinnon testified Tuesday.

But McKinnon said that Lawson was not under the direction of the Police Department to molest children.

"You were good at what you did," McKinnon said to Lawson, who represented himself in the molestation case.

"You lived a different kind of lifestyle. There's no doubt" that you helped us arrest a number of people, McKinnon said.

McKinnon said he met Lawson in 1976 through the recommendation of a Michigan State Police sergeant. He said the sergeant told him Lawson knew about child pornography and child prostitution and would be useful to Detroit police.

On cross-examination, Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor Patrick Muscat asked McKinnon whether Lawson was given immunity to molest children.

"Absolutely not," McKinnon said.

Lawson molested the preteen boy in the 1970s and '80s as part of a pedophilia ring during that time.

Lawson said Monday and again Tuesday that he molested the boy, but said he did so under immunity from the Police Department.

He took the stand Tuesday on his own behalf -- against the advice of Sharon Clark Woodside, an attorney assigned to assist him.

"The reason why I did it was to prevent another hundred children from being molested," Lawson testified, adding that he needed to molest the boy to gain the trust of pedophiles who were preying on children in the Cass Corridor area.

Last March, Ted Lamborgine pleaded guilty to 15 similar molestation charges. Lamborgine was Lawson's alleged partner in a pedophilia ring who police say has information about the 1970s killings that terrorized Oakland County.

Lawson said that he has a document granting him immunity from prosecution but that it was misplaced.

Outside the courtroom, McKinnon said Lawson worked on about a half dozen cases and was paid $15 to $20 per case.

He said Lawson received $50 for information on a case involving the trafficking of children. He said Lawson worked as an informant for about eight months.

Lawson currently is serving a life term in a Jackson prison for a 1989 murder in Livonia.

Circuit Judge Annette Jurkiewicz-Berry is to sentence Lawson on Feb. 21.

Contact ZLATI MEYER at 313-223-4439 or [email protected].


Wayne County news briefs

Man gets life in prison for abuse

The convicted killer who unsuccessfully represented himself in a child sex-abuse case earlier this month was sentenced Thursday to life in prison.

Richard Lawson, 61, was convicted Feb. 5 of five counts of criminal sexual conduct with a 12-year-old boy in the 1980s. Serving as his own defense attorney, he claimed the Detroit Police Department gave him immunity because he was working as a secret informant.

Judge Annette Jurkiewicz-Berry sentenced Lawson to life in prison for the first count and to 30-60 years in prison for each of the other four counts.

Lawson, who also gained notoriety for professing to have information about the infamous Oakland County child killer, already is serving a life sentence for an unrelated 1989 murder in Livonia.


Tiffany Papesh

A man sits in jail in Ohio for the abduction and murder of Tiffany Papesh, but hardly anyone --- not Tiffany's family, nor local authorities --- seems to think he did it.

It was June 13, 1980 when Tiffany, a dimpled-faced eight-year-old, was sent from her home in Maple Heights, Ohio to a convenience store only a half a block away for hamburger buns. Somewhere in that short distance she disappeared and was never seen again.

In 1983, a convicted child molester named Hbrandon Lee Flagner confessed to abducting and killing Tiffany. Flagner was convicted mostly on the basis of his confession, despite contradictory statements, a mechanically stamped time card from work that put him more than an hour away when Tiffany vanished, and the fact that her body was never found.

Flagner now denies killing Tiffany and says his confession was false; he says at the time he wanted to stay in prison to get into a treatment program for child molesters, and thought the confession would keep him there.

Police and Tiffany’s family allegedly believe Flagner’s innocent, and that the real killer remains free. The consensus is that after hearing about Flagner’s history as a child molester the jury just wanted to put him away.

If Flagner didn’t abduct and kill Tiffany Papesh, then who did? Ted Lamborgine, now the top suspect in the Oakland County Child killings, moved to Ohio right around the time Tiffany vanished. He settled in Parma Heights, only twelve minutes away from the spot where she was taken. The details of Tiffany’s abduction --- during the day, while on an errand to the store just a short distance away --- eerily parallel the last known moments of two of the Oakland victims. Oakland County victim Kristine Mihelich, 10, was last seen at a 7-Eleven store, buying a magazine. Timothy King, 11, was seen leaving a drugstore after purchasing some candy.

Tiffany strongly resembles the female victims in Oakland County.

Serial offenders operate in secret, emboldened by their ability to keep committing crimes no one can solve. Eventually they trip up, or someone gets a conscience and calls in a tip. Until then, their secret, violent life accelerates unabated, like any addiction. Michael Devlin, Bruce Mendenhall, and Ted Lamborgine were, for the most part, caught red-handed in the crimes that made them infamous. It's the crimes that haven't been connected to them yet --- the victims they continue to keep secret --- that are calling out to be solved.

The killer appeared to stop abruptly after the murder of Timothy King in March of 1977. Oakland County had been under siege by hysteria, and after a while a sense of normalcy resumed, but things would never be the same.

The Oakland County Child Killer investigation was the largest in U.S. history at the time. A task force was convened. Investigators ran down over 18,000 tips. They even exhumed a possible suspects body; it wasn't him.

The truth is authorities never really caught a good break. Twenty years turned into thirty, and the case languished in the cold case files. That’s why it was shocking to come across a recent headline announcing that the family of one of the victims was filing a wrongful death lawsuit against a 65-year-old Ohio man, claiming that he was more likely than not the Oakland County Child Killer.

The man's name is Ted Lamborgine. In 2005 a tip from a prisoner led investigators to question Lamborgine about a child porn ring that operated in Detroit in the 1970s. Lamborgine copped to being a pedophile but remained silent on the Oakland County murders.

The similarities are damning. Lamborgine and a pack of sick buddies preyed on poor kids from the Cass Corridor, a particularly run-down section of the city, but Lamborgine liked to cross 8 Mile Road into the tonier areas to troll for kids and mix with suburban pedophiles. One of his victims described being held captive, assaulted, and then fed. Lamborgine packed up and moved to Ohio right around the time the murders stopped.

But the strongest and most damning piece of evidence against Lamborgine is what he won't say. He pleaded guilty to 15 sex-related charges involving young boys rather than accept a plea bargain that required him to take a polygraph about the Oakland County killings. He also rejected an offer of a reduced sentence in exchange for a polygraph on the case. It’s hard to imagine an innocent man making such a decision.


I was a young child that lived in Michigan during the time of these horiffic murders. I have two questions...first of all is there a list of the suspected murderers? You hear that they have a list of suspects but I have never been able to find that list. Also I beleive it was E TV show that had a documentary on the Oakland County Child Killer. Do you know of such a show and if it is available for viewing?

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