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First came the unsettling Ouija board prophesy that Robin Adams would die before she was 17 years old. When a minister summoned by the family arrived to rid their house of frightening phenomena blamed on the Ouija board, he was taunted and denounced by Aubrey Vincent. a neighbor, skilled artist and suspected Satanist, Vincent was born on Christmas Day and died by his own hand a few years after his confrontation with the pastor.
Thus, the die was cast for one of the most bizarre murder cases in Michigan history. In 1976, when Robin vanished without a trace from Caro, a village in Michigan’s Thumb area, police were left without a body, witnesses or anything remotely resembling a crime scene.
Six years later, a rookie state police detective was assigned to the then-cold case and what followed reads like the opening chapters of a Stephen King novel. Assisted by a reluctant psychic whose observations and predictions proved amazingly accurate, the officer waged a battle of wits with the elusive suspect, Melvin Garza.
Before the story ended, a medium had warned a key witness beset by a series of physical injuries that he was the victim of black magic practiced by the killer’s grandmother. Over time, others with ties to the case were struck by tragedy. Was this the fruit of a poisonous tree raining down on them because of their role in bringing a killer to justice?
Veteran journalist Richard W. Carson spent years unraveling the shockingdetails of this nearly unsolved homicide. His book, Murder in the Thumb, sold more than 3,600 copies mainly in southeastern Michigan and has been reissued in a second edition re-titled Fruit of the Poisonous Tree, The True Story of Murder in a Small Town.
Richard W. Carson grew up in Detroit, Michigan, and graduated from Cooley High School. He attended Ferris State College at Big Rapids, where he appeared unspectacularly as Christian de Neuvillette in a campus production of Cyrano DeBergerac. Carson later transferred to the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and, having wisely abandoned his interest in the stage, majored in English.
In 1967, Carson joined the staff of the Huron Daily Tribune, a small daily in Michigan’s Upper Thumb area. There he worked as a general-assignment reporter, was promoted to editor, and received awards for excellence in editorial and feature writing as well as news, sports and feature photography.
Small-town life, which always appealed to the city boy, gave way to career opportunities in 1981. After nearly 15 years at the Tribune, Carson accepted a position as a section editor at The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch. Soon after, he was promoted to editorial writer and, in 1988, to editorial page editor. In the latter capacity, Carson supervised a nine-member staff of writers and editorial cartoonists.
In 2003, after 22 years with The Dispatch, Carson retired and began to pursue his passion for writing a detailed account of the Robin Adams murder case. In this connection, he refers to himself as “the writer of last resort,” given the persistent rumors that several others planned to write such a book soon after the murder trial ended, though ultimately, none did.
Commenting on the timeliness of Fruit of the Poisonous Tree, Carson said, “I wish I could have finished the book sooner but I’ve learned painfully that writing non-fiction is like taking the wheel of a runaway train. You never know when the story will stop and I wonder if this one has even now.”