Kimberly King called her sister the night she disappeared and said she was using a payphone outside of a party store at Nine Mile and Marmon.

Kimberly King called her sister the night she disappeared and said she was using a payphone outside of a party store at Nine Mile and Marmon.

Photo by Brian Louwers


‘She never showed up’ | The 1979 disappearance of Kimberly King

Cold case of missing 12-year-old girl at the focus of renewed Warren police investigation

By: Brian Louwers | C&G Newspapers | Published May 7, 2018

 Warren Police Commissioner Bill Dwyer confirmed a new search was tied to the department’s active investigation into the disappearance of Kimberly King.

Warren Police Commissioner Bill Dwyer confirmed a new search was tied to the department’s active investigation into the disappearance of Kimberly King.

Photo provided by Nina Innsted

 Kimberly King, 12, disappeared on Sept. 15, 1979 after she left a friend’s home on Dodge near Nine Mile and Hoover, in Warren.

Kimberly King, 12, disappeared on Sept. 15, 1979 after she left a friend’s home on Dodge near Nine Mile and Hoover, in Warren.

Photo provided by Nina Innsted

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“Whatever happened to her, happened to her that night,” Lucas said. “Something terrible had to have happened that night."

Kathi Lucas, Kimberly King's sister

WARREN/MACOMB TOWNSHIP — On Sept. 15, 1979, The Knack’s “My Sharona” was atop the Billboard Hot 100 chart, “Apocalypse Now” had been in theaters for a month, and cruising Gratiot Avenue was the thing to do for local teens.

And almost teens, in Kimberly King’s case.

Michigan’s summer was starting to recede, and metro Detroit hit a high of 66 degrees that day. The temperature was expected to drop to a low of 48 degrees as Kim said goodbye to her friend, Annie Godbout, in the backyard of Annie’s home just after dusk.

It was the last time Annie would ever see her best friend.

‘Times were completely different’

The girls met in the fourth grade at Warren’s Thompson Elementary School. Kim lived with her grandparents, across the street from Annie’s family on Dodge Avenue, near Nine Mile and Hoover roads.

That summer, they were part of a pack of kids in the neighborhood. Kim and Annie started junior high at what is now Lincoln Middle School just a couple days before that fateful night when something happened and everything changed.

“Initially what was supposed to happen that night was I was supposed to come over there. I was supposed to go to my grandma’s house and we were going to go to the movies,” said Kathi Lucas, Kim’s oldest sister, who now lives in Armada.

Lucas was then living with her dad in Waterford, in a home without a phone. When plans changed because she couldn’t get the car, she had no way to reach her sister. Using a neighbor’s phone was a toll call, a “big deal” in those days, she said.

Back in Warren, Kim apparently made plans of her own. They involved faking a sleepover at Annie’s, heading to Gratiot and maybe meeting up with Kathi there.

“A few times that summer, she told her grandparents she was staying at someone’s house, other girls,” Annie said. “The parents never knew she had no intention of ever staying there. She just wanted to go cruise Gratiot. She was 12 at the time. She was like a 16-year-old now. Times were completely different.”

Annie said Kim hatched a similar plan once before. She left one night and showed up at her house the next morning around 7 a.m., knocking on her bedroom window.  

“She was really fun. She was a rule breaker,” Annie said, remembering her friend. “She just really enjoyed life. Just a very strong personality. You knew when she walked into the room. One of the leaders. I was more of a bystander.”

So it wasn’t all that unusual when Kim left for the night through Annie’s backyard.

“Her grandpa was sitting on his front porch. He could see my yard,” Annie said. “And when sundown happened she just turned around and hopped the back fence.”

‘She never showed up’

It was the last time Annie saw Kim, but Kim did call her sister Konnie later that night. Where she made that call from, though, remains a mystery.

“When Kim called Konnie that night after 11, Konnie asked, ‘Where are you at?’ She said, ‘I’m at the corner?’ She admitted to staying the night at Annie’s,” Lucas said. During that conversation, Kim learned what happened with the car and also got a stern order from Konnie.

“She told her, ‘Get your butt back there.’ She hung up, and that was the end of it,” Kathi said.

It’s unknown whether Kim called her sister from the corner — at the party store at Marmon and Nine Mile, as she said — or from a White Castle on Gratiot.

But it was the last time anyone heard from her.

“I was expecting her. I was trying to get up early so I wouldn’t miss her knock,” Annie said. “She never showed up.”

The girls had talked about eating biscuits and gravy at Kim’s house at about 10 a.m., and planned to go to the cider mill after.

“Her grandma ended up calling our house. That’s how I knew she didn’t go there,” Annie said. “Then I hung up and I went across the street and I told her grandma everything I knew.”

Annie said her friend was mischievious, but that she’d never leave her hanging to pick up the pieces for her plans.

“The police were called and then I remember my dad going over and talking to the grandma and grandpa,” Annie said. “They just started questioning everyone in the neighborhood, and all the kids and the parents, trying to find out who knew anything.”

Annie said she spoke to Kim’s family later and was told that the police, at least at that time, thought maybe she had run away from home.

“I never in a million years believed that she would run away and not let her grandmother or her sisters know that she was alright,” Annie said. “That morning, when her grandma called, that’s when I knew something was wrong, that something had gone wrong.”

‘Something terrible’

Lucas never believed her sister was a runaway, either.

“We were just going crazy. ‘Where could she be?’ I’m not sure when the first day was when I went down to the police station,” she said. “At the time their attitude was, ‘Kim ran away. She’s coming home. Why are you bothering us?’”

“I had run away a number of times and had been reported as a runaway. That’s probably where they got the idea from.”

The sisters and their friends in the neighborhood started asking questions. They knocked on doors, looking to shake loose any information that might lead them to Kim.

“Friends, going to bang on doors, talking to anyone who might have ever known her,” Lucas said. “Nothing ever led to anything, though.”

She said the attitude of the Warren investigators changed after about two weeks.

There were a number of tips at the time that led to interviews with the police, but nothing ever went anywhere. One tip led to a girl that looked incredibly like Kim. There were no phone records to examine — the records from the payphone at the corner store, or the White Castle, were never pulled — and there were no security cameras. These were the days before modern technology that could now be used to track a cellphone or social media communications.

Kim, described by her sister as a “Tom-boy kid” with sandy brown hair, was gone without a trace. Her family and friends have been left wondering what happened for decades.

“Whatever happened to her, happened to her that night,” Lucas said. “Whatever it was — drinking, drugs, even down to somebody accidentally getting her too drunk and taking her someplace — something happened. Something terrible had to have happened that night.

“Somebody went to an awful lot of trouble to make sure whatever happened to her that night, she was never discovered,” Lucas said.

The search continues

On May 7, the Warren Police Department executed a search warrant on property near 23 Mile Road and North Avenue, in Macomb Township. That’s the same area where the body of Cindy Zarzycki, of Eastpointe, was recovered in 2008.

Zarzycki, 13, went missing in 1986 and convicted child molester Arthur Ream was later sent to prison for her murder. He later led investigators to the girl’s body.

Warren Police Commissioner Bill Dwyer confirmed the new search was tied to the department’s active investigation into the disappearance of Kimberly King. Though several detectives have worked the case over the years, the latest leads have apparently emerged from a fresh look and a renewed effort to solve a nearly 39-year-old mystery.  

“We’re proceeding with our investigation. We’ll probably be out there the next two or three days,” Dwyer said. “Obviously, we always want to bring closure for the family.”

The Warren Police Department is leading the investigation, working with the FBI, the Michigan State Police and the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office.

Look for more information on this developing story as it unfolds at www.candgnews.com or online at Facebook.com/warrenweekly.

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