Unthinkable: The Robison Family Murders (Part 1-The Crime)
Editor's Note: Unthinkable is a two-part series. This is part one. Part Two will air on 7&4 News at 6 on Friday, April 26. It will also be available on UpNorthLive.com that evening.
This summer marks a grim anniversary.
It was 45 years ago that a quiet, almost idyllic northern Michigan town became one of the most disturbing crime scenes in our state's history.
The Robison Family, Richard, Shirley and their four children, were from Lathrop village, but cherished their summer home in Good Hart.
"I think Richard Robison saw Good Hart as an example of his success," said Mardi Link, the author of "When Evil Came to Good Hart", a book detailing the family's murder.
The summer of 1968 was supposed to be a special one for the Robison's. The family planned to spend most of the summer on the beach, with the exception of a trip to Florida.
"Consider this was 1968," Link said. "No cell phones, no internet, long distance calls were expensive and less common, so if someone said they were going to be gone for three weeks and you didn't hear from them...that wasn't unusual."
But nearly a month later, after women in a nearby cottage smelled something odd from their bridge party, a crime scene was discovered.
The caretaker found the bodies of the family amongst overturned furniture and glass. The entire family was found shot, beaten, and left for a month in the summer heat before anyone, including law enforcement, knew anything about it.
In an additional odd twist to the case, the Sheriff was on his first vacation in eight years. So the undersheriff, only a month into the job, was in charge of the biggest mass murder in northern Michigan.
"The undersheriff...walked into the crime scene, picked up a hammer and wiped it clean," Link said. "It turned out the hammer was one of the murder weapons."
The quiet, beautiful town of Good Hart found itself splashed across the headlines of papers across the state - even across the country. Readers sat with bated breath hoping the next day's paper would bring news of an arrest.
"People were in complete shock and afraid because it took two weeks before they had a suspect,"