Letters

Letters 08-03-2015

Real Brownfields Deserve Dollars I read with interest the story on Brownfield development dollars in the July 20 issue. I applaud Dan Lathrop and other county commissioners who voted “No” on the Randolph Street project...

Hopping Mad Carlin Smith is hopping mad (“Will You Get Mad With Me?” 7-20-15). Somebody filed a fraudulent return using his identity, and he’s not alone. The AP estimates the government “pays more than $5 billion annually in fraudulent tax refunds.” Well, many of us have been hopping mad for years. This is because the number one tool Congress has used to fix this problem has been to cut the IRS budget –by $1.2 billion in the last 5 years...

Just Grumbling, No Solutions Mark Pontoni’s grumblings [recent Northern Express column] tell us much about him and virtually nothing about those he chooses to denigrate. We do learn that Pontoni may be the perfect political candidate. He’s arrogant, opinionated and obviously dimwitted...

A Racist Symbol I have to respond to Gordon Lee Dean’s letter claiming that the confederate battle flag is just a symbol of southern heritage and should not be banned from state displays. The heritage it represents was the treasonous effort to continue slavery by seceding from a democratic nation unwilling to maintain such a consummate evil...

Not So Thanks I would like to thank the individual who ran into and knocked over my Triumph motorcycle while it was parked at Lowe’s in TC on Friday the 24th. The $3,000 worth of damage was greatly appreciated. The big dent in the gas tank under the completely destroyed chrome badge was an especially nice touch...

Home · Articles · News · Books · Revisiting the Good Hart murders
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Revisiting the Good Hart murders

Glen Young - July 7th, 2008
Much of what happened that summer day in 1968 is known. Six members of a prominent Detroit area family were gunned down in their summer cottage near Good Hart, north of Harbor Springs. No credible witnesses came forward to aid police. The community and the nation were stunned. These facts and a few others are prolifically documented.
What is not known is who committed the murders, or why. The uncertainty has haunted family members, vexed law enforcement, and intrigued the curious for 40 years.
Several authors are among those transfixed by the unsolved murders of the Richard Robison family at their Summerset cottage in the rustic Blisswood resort community. Traverse City area author Mardi Link has waded through what is known, what is suspected, and what is still a mystery for her new book “When Evil Came to Good Hart.”
Published by the University of Michigan Press, Link’s book is the first non-fiction examination of the family, the crime, and the suspects who were investigated by police both in the aftermath of the murders, and for years afterwards.

STENCH OF DEATH
What is established is that Richard Robison, his wife Shirley, their sons Ritchie, Gary, and Randy, and their daughter Susan were all murdered, most likely on the afternoon of June 25, 1968. The last person to see any of the Robisons alive was a local tree trimmer.
Link begins with the crime; the discovery of the bodies after the Robisons neighbors complained to the cottage association’s caretaker about the foul odor leaching from the cottage; how the caretaker and his helper first opened the cottage door to a wave of flies and the stench of death; how police arrived to process the scene, and ultimately how law enforcement was unable to indict their chief suspect.
From here she ranges as far and wide as the case has taken investigators, begun in the immediate aftermath of the gruesome discovery, and continuing -- in fits and starts -- up to the present. State police and local sheriff’s deputies have screened myriad leads from Michigan, as well as Ohio, Florida, Kansas, and elsewhere. The only theme linking the leads is that none has led to an arrest or a conviction.
Link paints Good Hart, then and now, as a land of fairy tales: “dark woods, warm cabins with smoke curling from their chimneys, worn footpaths down ancient routes, watery blue-grey horizons, a church, a graveyard, and a little store.” Robison, and his associates, however, were not fairy tale fodder.
Hidden among the fairy tale outline, Link details a suspicious cast of characters, from caretaker Monnie Bliss, to Robison associate Joe Scolaro, and others. The list of tips and suspects detectives followed included everything from, “Medicine doctors, strange Greek god-sounding names, a queen, and a pool-shooting bomb maker.”

JEKYLL & HYDE?
What investigators uncovered was that Richard Robison might have been a “Jekyll and Hyde type” of man. He founded advertising firm, R.C. Robison and Associates, and published “Impresario” magazine, an arts and culture publication covering the metro area. And while Robison looked clean on the surface, detectives found “a man who inspired corruption and loyalty in almost equal measure.” Robison also had a penchant for pretty secretaries and awkward sexual peccadilloes.
State police investigators Lloyd Stearns and John Fils were assigned to the case. Early on the two decided “the murders were either a meaningless rampage by a crazed killer or that the initial target of the murderer was Dick Robison, with the others tragic collateral damage.”
This is not the first time the Robison case has engaged the imagination of writers. In 2004 Judith Guest, most widely known for “Ordinary People,” used the case to frame her novel “The Tarnished Eye.” In her version, Guest plays up the link between the Robisons and convicted co-ed murderer John Norman Collins, who terrorized the Ypsilanti-Ann Arbor area in the period preceding the Robison murders. Collins and Ritchie Robison were possible acquaintances at Eastern Michigan University.
More recently, Lansing area author James Pecora has fictionalized the tale in his novel “DEADEND.” Pecora’s version casts guilt squarely on the shoulders of the resort’s caretaker, a character who suggests Chauncey A. “Monnie” Bliss, whose own son, coincidentally or purposely, had been killed on June 24, 1968 in a motorcycle accident not far from Blisswood.
Link, who has contracted with U-M Press for a second true crime book (and has also written for Northern Express), believes State Police detective Lloyd Stearns is the “true hero” of the story, because of his determination to solve the case. And while an indictment and a conviction were never achieved, Link does believe Stearns and his partner put together a credible explanation for who targeted Robison and why.

Mardi Link will speak about “When Evil Came to Good Hart” on July 24 at Horizon Books in Traverse City, and on September 24 at the Traverse Area District Library.
 
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11.19.2012 at 10:42 Reply
T

If you have information that will lead to the arrest and conviction of the person(s) responsible for the

Robison Family Homicides please contact the Emmet County Sheriff's office or go to

www.unsolvedhomicide.com for info on how to report anonymously. peace

 

 
 
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