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Juan Ignacio Blanco  

 

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Todd WARZECHA

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Murderer?
Characteristics: Necrophilia
Number of victims: 0 - 6
Date of murders: 1972 / 1976 - 1977
Date of birth: 1952
Victims profile: Teenagers Norbert Peck and Oscar Garcia / Mark Stebbin, 12 / Jill Robinson, 12 / Kristine Mihelich, 10 / Timothy King, 11
Method of murder: Suffocation - Strangulation - Shooting
Location: Bay/Oakland Counties, Michigan, USA
Status: Committed suicide by hanging himself in Texas instead of surrendering a sample of his DNA on June 9, 2005
 
 

 
 

Was murder suspect a serial killer?

June 14, 2005

Todd Warzecha, 53, committed suicide last week in Texas instead of surrendering a sample of his DNA.

He was a prime suspect in two unsolved Mid-Michigan murders, and the investigator in the case says he should be a considered a suspect in other killings.

Michigan State Police Det. Robert Lesneski says it's never happened to him before. Never has someone killed himself just before the detective was to ask for a DNA sample.

"I think it's an interpretation, but that's my interpretation without a doubt," he said.

And that interpretation is that Warzecha had something to hide, and that's why he hung himself in an Austin, Texas, storage shed last week.

Warzecha was a suspect in the 1972 murders of Bay County teenagers Norbert Peck and Oscar Garcia.

"I believe he knew I was there," Lesneski said. "He knew what I wanted, and I think he, forgive me for saying this, like I said I feel bad for the family, I think it's something he didn't want to face."

The 1969 Bay City Handy graduate was on the radar screen of a lot of law-enforcement officers in Mid Michigan.

Never charged in the Peck and Garcia murders, he had served two years in a prison for an attempted adduction and sexual assault against another Bay County resident.

Police say sometime after Warzecha got out of prison, he tried to pick up a hitchhiker in Ogemaw County along I-75.

He opened his car door, but as the man hitchhiking was getting in the car, the vehicle was rear-ended. The hitchhiker lost a leg in the accident, but investigators say the accident may have saved his life.

Lesneski says Warzecha was also questioned in the 1976-1977 Oakland County child killings.

Four children were murdered, their bodies dumped along roads much like Peck and Garcia, and Lesneski has been in touch with the lead investigator on those cold cases.

"I'm assuming (the lead investigator) is going to do the same thing, taking a closer look at Mr. Warzecha," Lesneski said.

Investigators in a number of states are also digging through their cold case files to see if Warzecha could be considered a suspect.


Will DNA Sample Solve 1970s Child Killer Case?

Suspect In Two Cases Found Dead In Texas

ClickOnDetroit.com

June 17, 2005

OAK PARK, Mich. -- Investigators are hoping DNA evidence from another case will hold clues to the 1976 slayings of four children in Oakland County.

The investigation began when Michigan State Police detectives reopened a cold-case file on the 1972 homicides of two Bay County teenagers whose bodies were left in ditches, Local 4 reported. Officers flew to Texas Tuesday to interview a suspect in the case, Todd Warzecha, and take DNA samples, according to the report.

Once in Texas, officers found the 53-year-old man hanging from the ceiling of a storage shed in an apparent suicide, Local 4 reported.

Gorcyca said the suicide could be "compelling evidence" in regards to the killings of four children in Oakland County in 1976.

"He was a target and a suspect for a long period of time," said Oakland County Prosecutor David Gorcyca.

Warzecha was previously questioned about the deaths of the four children, whose bodies were also left along a roadside, Local 4 reported. The victims include Timothy King, 11, who was kidnapped on March 16, 1977, outside a Birmingham pharmacy; Mark Stebbins, 12, who was abducted while walking to his Ferndale home in February of 1976; Jill Robinson, 12, of Royal Oak, who disappeared on Dec. 22, 1976; and Kristin Mihelich, 10, who was abducted 11 days later from a convenience store in Berkley, according to Local 4 reports.

Investigators are now taking DNA samples from Warzecha's body to determine if there is a match in the Oakland County homicides.

"The Oakland County child killings is probably one of the biggest unsolved mysteries in Oakland County besides (Jimmy) Hoffa," said Gorcyca.

Gorcyca said if there is not a match, it could still help the case.

"We can take him off the list as a potential suspect," said Gorcyca.

Investigators are expecting tests on Warzecha's DNA samples to take several months for results.

 


The Oakland County Child Killings

During the winter of 1976/77, four horrific murders of children occurred in Oakland County, Michigan, that remain unsolved.  They created  a palatable fear in Oakland County and beyond because people in the area had just not experienced anything like it.

I remember this vividly because I was the right age at the time (ten) and even though we lived in the next county, this was all over the news and parents were freaked out throughout SE Michigan.  All the rules changed and no children were outside alone, without an adult, ever.  No more, "Go ride your bike but be back by summertime," no more, "Yes you can ride your horse to Laura's."  (Laura lived over 5 miles away.)  No more walking to the library after school and Mom would pick you up later.  My bus stop was at the end of our private road, a quarter mile away and although all the families living on the road were on rather uneasy terms, there was always a parent waiting at the bus stop, turns were taken and there were headcounts done and that was just unheard of.  (At least I didn't get pudding thrown on me anymore while walking to the bus stop.) Anyway, this put the whole area into a state of near hysteria and primal fear for children.

All four children, two girls and two boys, were snatched out of thin air and after a matter of time, turned up dead.

Mark Stebbin

Mark, of Ferndale, was twelve years old and last seen at an American Legion on February 17, 1976.  His body was found two days later in Southfield.  He had been strangled and sexually assaulted post-mortem.

Jill Robinson

Jill lived in Royal Oak and was 12.  She had an argument with her mother and told her mother she was running away on December 22, 1976.  Her body was found December 26 on the side of I-75 in Troy (a major thoroughfare).  She had been killed by a shotgun blast to the face.

Kristine Mihelich

Kristine was from Berkley, Michigan, aged ten.  She disappeared on her way to a 7-11 in Berkeley on January 2, 1977, being found 19 days later, dumped on a rural road out in Franklin Village.  She had been smothered.

Timothy King

Timmy King was 11 and lived in Birmingham.  He disappeared March 16, 1977 and was found March 22 in a ditch in Livonia.  He had been suffocated and sexually assaulted post-mortem.

At first, police were not convinced that the killings were related, since the victim selection and manners of death were so different.  However, when comparisons started being made, the similarities were glaring.  All victims were snatched off the street, seemingly into thin air, in safe areas.  They were all held captive for a matter of days after the abduction.  They showed signs of being well cared for and bathed.  One victim even had a favorite dinner after the parent made a plea for the return and promised to serve a favorite meal.  All the victims were re-dressed in their own clothing with most of their belongings intact.

There was evidence of sexual trauma on both boys, none on the girls.

There was a plea in the media for help and a task force of over 300 officers and support personel was formed.  Rumors and suspicions ran rampant.  Among the most relevant: There was a blue AMC Gremlin spotted near one of the snatch sites.  This has since be ruled out or discounted.

The task force tried taking a proactive approach, taking out decoy ads in gay magazines and frequenting gay hangouts in hopes of uncovering something, since both boys had been sodomized post-mortem and neither girl had been sexually assaulted in any sort of obvious manner.

The task force received over 100,000 tips and over 20,000 were investigated seriously.  Every crackpot in the state came out of the woodwork to confess or offer their "vision". 

A priest with a dubious reputation was investigated. There was much speculation that the kids were old enough to know not to go with strangers and would have had to have been fooled into a sense of security.  The priest was cleared.

There was no connection between the kids, other than living in the same county in a roughly close geographical area.

Some of the outcome of this dread and fear was the "Nay Nay, Stanger Stay Away" program brought into the schools.  It featured a cute little pony who warned about the danger of strangers.

Eventually,  the case grew cold with no solid suspects and no DNA at the time but investigators always hoped they would someday catch a break.

They thought they had a break when David Norberg, who had been an initial suspect for the Oakland County Child Killings and some other violent crimes, died.  Norberg had been an autoworker in SE Michigan and had moved to Wyoming.  He had driven a blue Opal, very similar to a blue Gremlin, and stopped driving it not long after the killings.  When he moved to Wyoming, he resumed driving the Opal.  He died in a car accident not long after moving.  He was apparently a violent man who sexually and physically assaulted not only his wife but also his sister.  There was speculation he had killed two girls other than the two who were victims of the OCCK.

When he died, his widow found a silver cross inscribed "Kristine" among his belongings.  Kristine Mihelich had owned a cross that her aunt said was identical.  Mrs. Norberg also found a St. Christopher's medal, such as the one Timmy King wore that was never recovered, and a green worm pin similar to the one Jill Robinson routinely wore.  Sadly, Mrs. Norberg gave these away after her husband died and since so much time had passed, could not remember who she gave them to.

Norberg's DNA was tested and he was cleared.

The case recently went from the back burner to the front again when Michigan Law Enforcement zeroed in on a man named Todd Warzecha, who had moved to Texas.  Warzecha had long been suspected in the unsolved  murder of two boys in Bay County, Michigan.  Police arrived to take Warzecha's DNA samples and instead, found him from hanging in a storage shed on his property, a suicide.

In the dark underbelly of the internet, this case has caused much speculation and armchair sleuthing.  I've followed it for about the past five years.  Reading sites online, it's difficult to sort the real from the fantasy.

There is one woman who posts on every single forum I have ever seen regarding the case.   I'm not going to state her name here but let it suffice to say, she has been kicked off more than one forum, dismissed as a crackpot by law enforcement and has a criminal record herself.  (I know this for a fact because I looked her up on Michigan's handy dandy offender tracking system and confirmed it.)  She posits that she knew the OCCK, whom she refers to as "John" and over several months of coffee and gentle questioning, he eventually confessed and indeed, detailed all the reasons why he killed the children.   She claims she has presented this to law enforcement and at one point,  she had the support of a very active forum moderator. 

All this panned out to nothing and I put it in the fruit and nuts category.  What I'm trying to convey is don't always take what you read online as the gospel truth.  If a law enforcement official is quoted, take that seriously. And you can bet, they are holding cards to their vests as well.

The Law Enforcement types are currently bringing a new perspective to the case.   They are once again forming a task force, albeit much smaller, and reconstructing all the evidence and reviewing it case by case and resubmitting it for more detailed DNA testing. I've read that there are currently 12 suspects who have not been cleared.

It will be interesting to see how this turns out.  I have my fingers crossed for the officers.  I know how much this scared the ever loving crap out of my mom and many other parents during the time.  I know people who were kids at that time who are still traumatized by it.

And I apologize for having scant information on the victims. There just wasn't a lot of detailed victim biography out there.  I know they have families who still miss them, still miss seeing them go to high school, pursue careers, have children themselves.  E! is doing a special on serial killers and this case is featured and Timmy King's dad is interviewed.  My thoughts and prayers are with the families of these innocent victims and hopefully, justice will be done.

Justice delayed is not justice denied.

 

 

 
 
 
 
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