Barry King, father of Oakland child killer victim, dies at 89

Francis X. Donnelly
The Detroit News

A man whose heart was broken not once but twice by the Oakland County Child Killer case has passed away.

Barry King, a retired Birmingham lawyer, lost his 11-year-old son to the serial killer or killers who terrorized the county in the late 1970s.

Barry King holds a photo of his son Tim, in his Birmingham home, February 25, 2020.  Tim was killed by the Oakland County child killer in 1977.

He devoted his life to finding out what happened in the unsolved case that claimed three other children, but felt stymied by judges and law enforcement.

“(He) just wanted the truth,” his daughter, Cathy Broad, wrote in a blog. “He wanted someone in law enforcement to look him in the eyes and tell him the truth.”

He never stopped looking, even at age 89 and suffering from a rare neurodegenerative disease that robbed him of the ability to speak.

He supported former judge Karen McDonald in the county prosecutor’s race this month because she promised to take a look at the case.

“He died at home, in his own bed, on his own terms,” wrote Broad. “He was a warrior for justice for his son.”

King died Thursday at age 89.

During a 13-month period from 1976 to 1977, four children were abducted and murdered near the Woodward Avenue corridor in Oakland County.

King’s son, Tim, was the fourth and final victim.

On March 16, 1977, he went to a Birmingham drugstore near his home to buy candy and never came back. His body was found a week later in Livonia in a ditch beside a road.

The case led to the creation of a task force and spurred one of the the largest manhunts in U.S. history.

King spent decades trying to uncover the identity of the killer or killers, and was convinced law enforcement officials were holding back information.

He filed public records requests to obtain it but prosecutors argued in court they didn’t have what he was sought.

“He did not back down,” wrote Broad.

King and his wife established the Tim King Fund to provide help for abused children, and to promote youth activities in Birmingham.

To recognize her father’s efforts, Broad is asking people to perform random acts of kindness.

And she said she appreciated everyone who supported her dad.

“Thank you to those who tried to help advance his quest for justice for his son,” she said. “Thank you to those who supported him even if just in spirit.”

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Twitter: @prima_donnelly