A team of investigators with the Warren Police Department, FBI, Michigan State Police and the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office executed a search warrant on property near 23 Mile Road and North Avenue on May 7, where they launched a search for buried human remains.

A team of investigators with the Warren Police Department, FBI, Michigan State Police and the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office executed a search warrant on property near 23 Mile Road and North Avenue on May 7, where they launched a search for buried human remains.

Photo by Sarah Purlee


The search for Kimberly King | ‘We’re going to do our best to give them some answers’

New investigation into Warren girl’s 1979 disappearance leads detectives to Macomb Township

By: Brian Louwers | C&G Newspapers | Published May 11, 2018

 Warren Police Commissioner Bill Dwyer, center, appeared alongside Kimberly King’s sister, Konnie Beyma, far right, and her best friend Annie Godbout to offer details about the department’s investigation and what led to the search in Macomb Township.

Warren Police Commissioner Bill Dwyer, center, appeared alongside Kimberly King’s sister, Konnie Beyma, far right, and her best friend Annie Godbout to offer details about the department’s investigation and what led to the search in Macomb Township.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

“It’s interesting to me seeing how someone’s life can go from totally normal to being part of this terrifying story,” Innsted said. “Most of us are one misstep away from ending up on a podcast or in a press conference. I think it’s really that fragile. I

Nina Innsted, true crime podcaster

MACOMB TOWNSHIP — The midday press conference ended May 9 as reporters rushed to gather final details for stories about what brought them and a team of investigators to a barren, dusty field on the edge of a subdivision carved into the countryside.

A sense of rural quiet was already returning to the neighborhood near 23 Mile Road and North Avenue in Macomb Township as most of those assembled left. The news helicopter was gone, leaving only the sounds of lingering conversations and the wind blowing through leafless trees on a warm spring day. The season was changing again, as it had every few months over the nearly 39 years since 12-year-old Kimberly King vanished without a trace. 

Across that field, at the edge of a tree line near the bank of a winding stretch of the Clinton River’s North Branch, heavy excavation equipment was moving. Somewhere in those whispering trees, a team of investigators set about the solemn, meticulous task of searching for Kim’s remains and for those of as many as five more long-missing girls.  

 

The ‘connector of dots’

On the Twitter profile for her “Already Gone” podcast, host Nina Innsted describes herself as a “writer, storyteller, connector of dots.”

That last part is what the schoolteacher-turned-stay-at-home mom and podcast producer hopes her work will accomplish for the families longing to know what happened to their loved ones and for the investigators working to finally bring them home.  

“I’ve always been interested in the Oakland County Child Killer case because in 1976 and 1977 I lived in Berkley, which is where one of the victims was taken from,” Innsted said. 

Her true crime podcast launched in April 2016 and has since featured dozens of stories about the missing, the murdered, and those who took or killed them. In October 2017, Episode 74 focused on the disappearance of Kimberly King.

“When I looked into her case, I wanted to find out, one way or another, whether she could be ruled in or ruled out as a potential victim of the Oakland County Child Killer,” Innsted said. Even at that time, the case, she said, “was just sort of out there by itself.”

Innsted said she sought information from the Warren Police Department and later filed a Freedom of Information Act request. That’s how she learned that much of the Kim King case file had been put on microfilm. 

From there, she reached out to Kim’s sisters, Kathi Lucas and Konnie Beyma, and to Kim’s best friend, Annie Godbout, who was the last person to see her alive. Kim left the backyard of Godbout’s home, across the street from the home she lived in with her grandparents on Dodge Avenue, near Nine Mile and Hoover roads in Warren, after dusk on Sept. 15, 1979, and was never seen again.

About the time Innsted’s Kimberly King podcast was posted, Warren police were diving back into the case. Sources said the new investigative effort was launched on the premise of reanalysing any existing facts and evidence; in effect, starting from scratch in an attempt to generate new leads.

“I was really motivated to cover it for a variety of reasons, and then with her sisters, Kathi and Konnie, being so cooperative and so helpful and so forthcoming, I felt I was able to put a really good story together and kind of get her story out there,” Innsted said.

The podcast and the renewed Warren Police Department investigation prompted a story on WXYZ-TV Channel 7, by Anu Prakash, in December.

“I have a real interest in old, unsolved cases,” Innsted said. “But again, it was Kim’s sisters who really put themselves out there to push this forward.” 

 

‘Genuine shoe-leather detective work’

A 38-year-old mystery surrounding the disappearance of a 12-year-old girl. That’s what Warren Police Detective James Twardesky was handed when he volunteered to take on the Kim King case last fall. 

“The sergeant was looking for someone to work on it, and I expressed interest,” Twardesky said. “I would say that’s about it. Let’s see if we can get some closure for the family.”

He’s spent the last several months working the file with Detective Brent Chisolm and Jennifer Lebo, a Chicago-based cold case detective and forensic interview specialist, brought in as an expert. Their work has included new interviews with those who knew Kim, and with one man who may know exactly what happened to her. 

“It’s been investigated by multiple detectives over the years,” Twardesky said. “Obviously, the people who care about her are getting older. We’re going to do our best to give them some answers.”

Lebo described the process as “boots on the ground, genuine shoe-leather detective work.”

“If you’ve got the right detectives on a case and the right police department to back them, you can make headway on these cases,” Lebo said. “What can you do by re-interviewing people? Can we do better interviews than we did before? How can you accomplish that? I really think these cases are solvable, but they take a tremendous amount of energy, effort and heart on the part of the detectives, and a really good department backing them up.”

Lebo worked with Eastpointe police on the Cindy Zarzycki case that was finally closed in 2008. Cindy disappeared in 1986 after she was lured to an ice cream shop by Arthur Ream, her friend’s father and the man later convicted of killing her. After he was convicted, Ream reportedly tried to cut a deal by leading police to the girl’s remains, buried at a depth of 18 inches in the wooded area where investigators would go searching for Kim King’s remains 10 years later.  

Twardesky said the strategy for the new investigation has also included working backward from known offenders, analyzing whether anything from their history or new interviews lines up with Kim’s disappearance.

Warren Police Commission Bill Dwyer said that’s what led investigators back to a person of interest and back to that wooded area near North Avenue and 23 Mile. 

 

‘A gravesite’ 

On May 7, the Warren Police Department, backed by resources from the FBI, the Michigan State Police and the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office, executed a search warrant on the property in Macomb Township. At press time, they’d already spent four days searching the swampy, wooded stretch of riverbank not far from where Zarzycki’s remains were recovered in 2008. 

Dwyer has confirmed that the new search was tied to the department’s investigation into the disappearance of Kimberly King. 

He also said that as many as six bodies could be buried out there based on a number of  “findings” in the renewed investigation, including statements made to detectives during several interviews with a suspect, reported to be Ream, and the bragging Ream allegedly did in prison “about murdering four to six people.”

“We do have probable cause to believe this is a gravesite, no question about it, that Kimberly King and other young female victims who were murdered are buried here, and that’s why we’re going to put a lot of time and effort into it,” Dwyer said. “We believe we have a suspect.”

Kimberly King. Nadine O’Dell. Kim Larrow. Kellie Marie Brownlee. Cynthia Coon. All were named among the missing girls that some speculate could be buried somewhere within the 24-acre search area.  

Innsted, who grew up reading her mom’s true crime novels and developed a lifelong interest in unsolved cases, said she hopes the stories of Kimberly King and the other missing girls will soon end and bring, at the very least, some sense of peace for the families. 

“It’s interesting to me seeing how someone’s life can go from totally normal to being part of this terrifying story,” Innsted said. “Most of us are one misstep away from ending up on a podcast or in a press conference. I think it’s really that fragile. I think that’s what really happened to Kim. She came across the wrong person, and if the right person had picked her up, she’d still be here.”

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