Results of the latest DNA testing in the infamous Oakland County Child Killer case indicate none of the previously known suspects were donors of hairs found on the bodies of two victims and inside a vehicle owned by a person of interest, according to Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office officials who held a press conference Tuesday, July 21.
The press conference addressed human hairs collected in the 1970s from victim Mark Stebbins’ clothing and Timothy King’s nasal cavity and underwear.
While the hairs found on the victims were found unsuitable for autosomal DNA testing, mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) testing was able to show that the hairs have the same DNA profile — which is the first physical evidence that links the two crimes.
However, mtDNA cannot be used to isolate a particular person, as autosomal DNA can, because it only traces the maternal line of a DNA sample.
“When there is an mtDNA profile match, all that can be said is that a suspect cannot be eliminated as a potential donor. But the suspect cannot be positively identified only by a mtDNA profile match,” said Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper.
The mtDNA results also cannot be compared with the FBI’s CODIS offender data base.
The Oakland County Child Killer case has baffled law enforcement officials and held the public’s attention in the 30-plus years since the murder of four Oakland County children between 1976 and 1977.
The first victim was Stebbins, 12, of Ferndale, who was last seen alive in an American Legion Hall on Feb. 13, 1976. His body was found three days later in a parking lot in Southfield. Stebbins was strangled and sexually assaulted, post-mortem, with an object.
Jill Robinson, 12, reportedly ran away from her Royal Oak home on Dec. 22, 1976. Her body was found the day after Christmas 1976, along I-75 in Troy. Robinson was killed by a single shotgun blast to the face. She was fully clothed and still wearing her backpack when she was found.
The third victim, Kristine Mihelich, age 10, was last seen alive Jan. 2, 1977 around 3 p.m. at a 7-Eleven store in Berkley. Her fully-clothed body was found 19 days later in Franklin Village. She had been smothered.
The last victim was 11-year-old King. He was last seen in a Birmingham parking lot on March 16, 1977, at around 8:30 p.m. His body was found March 22 in a shallow ditch in Livonia. He had been suffocated and sexually assaulted post-mortem.
In 1976, Archibald “Ed” Sloan had been convicted of a sexual assault against a male minor and was considered as a person of interest in the Oakland County Child Killer case by the Southfield Police Department. He was interviewed and his car, a 1966 Pontiac Bonneville, was searched and fibers and hair samples were collected.
That hair was recently tested and analyzed, indicating it shared the same mtDNA profile as the hairs collected from Stebbins and King.
DNA was collected from Sloan, who is currently serving a life sentence for two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. Testing revealed Sloan, now 70, was not the donor of the hair found in his Bonneville or on Stebbins and King.
All other known suspects were tested to see if their DNA profiles were similar to the profiles of the hairs found in the Bonneville and on the victims. None of those suspects were donors of the hairs recovered from the two victims or the vehicle, according to Cooper.
Law enforcement officials are now asking for help in identifying anyone known to be associated with the 1966 Pontiac Bonneville or to identify and locate Sloan’s associates and friends who may have driven the car during that time period.
Cooper said that Sloan has not been cooperative with investigators, and hasn’t named any friends or associates who may have used his vehicle at the time of the killings.
Sloan also drove a 1969 black Chevy pickup and a 1971 blue Ford pickup, both of which were usually seen with a camper attached. Any information concerning these vehicles and the people who had access to them would be useful, as well.
Anyone with any information about the case is encouraged to call 1-800-442-7766.