This show, “Michigan and other Mayhem”, is a sort of factual, slightly comical, always earnest podcast about interesting stuff in Michigan and around the world. It is done by two sisters-in-law (Ali and Jenn) that like to talk about random interesting stories. Expect cults, mysteries, murder, fast-talking, and a couple of mental palate cleansers… and cuss words. Those happen on this show, a lot.
Episode 25: The Good Hart Murders, 20 Things to Know About Michigan, 20 Facts About Ohio
- Pretend podcast music because Jenn likes it.
- Ali has a weird laugh. It is often loud.
Ali changed a single word in the intro and Jenn immediately caught it.
We have a guest! Ali’s cousin Brandy. Brandy is on to talk about the murder of the Robison family.
The Good Hart Murders
Brandy’s story begins on July, 22, 1968, in Lake Michigan, Township, which is located north of Good Hart, near the straights of Mackinac. It is a small resort town in which the Robisons were vacationing.
Two women who were chatting outside of their cabin noticed a putrid smell coming from one of the other cabin houses. They notify a groundskeeper named Mr. Bliss. Mr. Bliss goes to the residence, which is rented by the Robison family.
Mr. Bliss notices that a front window is broken, and the broken area was covered by cardboard. There was a note attached to the door said, “We’ll be back, Robison”. The family had vacationed at the cabins in the past and they were around this summer.
Mr. Bliss knocks on the door. When no one answers, he uses his key to open the door. Once the door is open, Mr. Bliss sees the entire Robinson family has been shot to death.
The Robison family had consisted of Richard (father), Shirley (mom), and children “Richie” Richard Jr., Gary, Randy, and Susan, the youngest. They are originally from Lathrup Village, an outer suburb of Detroit.
Mr. Bliss calls the police, who determine that the family had died 27 days earlier. The time of death is assumed to be June 25, 1968. Every member of the family had suffered gunshot wounds. Two members, Richard and Susan had also been bludgeoned by a hammer. Shirley’s body had been staged to look like she had been sexually assaulted, although no assault had occurred.
The police determine the killer was a singular person as there was only one set of footprints at the crime scene. They believe the killer shot the family through the window, breaking it. It was believed two shots came through the window, killing Richard. The killer then came into the cabin through the unlocked door and shot the rest of the family.
There were some items missing from the cabin.
Local county police, Emmet county, investigated the murders. It is believed that they did not do a very good job. They had allowed a reporter to come into the crime scene while they were collecting evidence. The investigators didn’t have the tools we have today, because it was the 1960’s and a small town.
The Michigan State Police also got involved and it grows into a 15 month investigation, being completed in December of 1969.
Suspect, Joseph Scolaro III, was an employee of Richard Robison. He had embezzled around $60,000 from two companies that Richard owned. He was a former Marine sharp shooter. Joseph owned both types of guns used in the murders. He also owned a particular type of ammo that was sold for a short time in Michigan. Matching spent cartridges were found at his family’s shooting range. Joseph’s first two lie detector tests showed that he was being deceitful, but a third was found inconclusive.
There was never anyone arrested for the murder. Joseph claimed to have given his guns to friends as gifts, so he did not have a bill of sale. The day of the murder, Joseph’s alibi was that he was at a plumbing convention at Cobo Hall. It was a three-day convention and people did say they saw him there, but they said it was the day after that he was seen. He had 12 hours unaccounted for, after he had his secretary cancel some meetings.
They never found the murder weapon or fingerprints. Also, there is a hypothesis that Emmet County didn’t prosecute because they thought the trial would be too expensive and it wasn’t a slam dunk case.
Four years later, L. Brooks Patterson tried to reopen the case, but he wasn’t able to bring up charges. Joseph Scolaro committed suicide. One note was written to the public, and one to his mother. He calls himself “a liar, a cheat, and a phony” but denied the Robison murders.
20 Things Michiganders Might Have to Explain to Others
- We use our hand to show other people locations in Michigan. Michigan’s lower peninsula looks like a mitten. It is so easy to lift your hand up and show another person where in Michigan you went. I’ve heard Michigan called “America’s High Five”.
- Michigan is the only US state made of two peninsulas. Our two peninsulas are like two different countries. I once had a roommate at college who was from the UP (upper peninsula) and she said, “We call people in the lower peninsula trolls. We say you live in the lower 40. We feel more connected to Wisconsin than we do Michigan. What do you say about us?” To which I replied, “Nothing. We don’t even think about the UP enough to insult you. I forgot people live there.” I was teasing. We call people in the UP, Yoopers. They call us trolls because we live beneath the Mackinac bridge that connects the two peninsulas.
- Speaking of the Mackinac bridge, it is one of the world’s longest suspension bridges. Many people are too scared to drive across, so the state offers a service assistant to help drive them across. You can pull over at any point and call them to pick you up. In 1989, to my horror, a 31-year-old woman driving a Yugo lost control of her car on the Mackinac bridge, swerving into oncoming traffic before driving off the side of the bridge. She died in her car as it sank to the bottom of the lake.
- Mackinac Island, which is by the Mackinac bridge in Lake Huron, has a no car policy. You can ride a bike or take a horse carriage in the summer for island transportation. People who live on the island all year use snowmobiles to get around in the winter.
- When Michiganders give driving directions, sometimes we have to tell people to take a Michigan Left. A Michigan Left is where you are driving down a divided highway like Michigan Avenue, and in order to turn left you have to pass the street you want to turn on to and then do a modified U-turn. Example, you are driving east on Michigan Ave. and you want to turn left onto Merriman, so you pass Merriman and get to the left turn lane that crosses the median and start heading back west. When you get back to Merriman, you now turn right on to the street. It sounds ridiculous, but I guess it reduces the incidences of fatal accidents.
- We eat Superman Ice Cream. Superman Ice Cream is a swirl of red, blue, and yellow ice cream. Red is supposed to be cherry, yellow is vanilla, and blue is blueberry. I used to swirl them around to make them turn purple. And if you take swirling the ice cream too far, it turns gray.
- We have party stores. It is what we call a convenience store. I grew up in a little town with a party store one street up from my house. I was sent up to the party store to pick up emergency items more times than I can count.
- We have something called Michigan Sauce. This is a sauce that is placed on hot dogs and involves items like vinegar, ground beef, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce. It is like having a chili dog and it is delicious. It is the difference between a coney dog and a chili dog. https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/47606/grandma-slatterys-michigan-sauce/
- Michigan, and the state it shares most of its border with, Ohio, don’t like each other. I live near Ann Arbor’s University of Michigan and they have an intense rivalry with Ohio State. It is best not to get involved between the two. You might have heard me say things like “The only good thing to come out of Ohio is my husband and his family.” As a kid, when my family would take road trips south, driving through Ohio was boring and torturous.
- The University of Michigan likes to fight. They also have a rivalry with another university, Michigan State. Michigan Vs. Michigan State football games are just as intense as Michigan Vs. Ohio State. Their fans are known to be rabid.
- We say pop when it comes to soda pop. Less heard words are soda, cola, and coke. We drink pop.
- Pothole dodging is the unofficial state sport. According to MDOT (Michigan Department of Transportation) Michigan has less money to spend on transportation than any other state in the United States. Add to that, we have an extended freeze-thaw cycle and high truck weight limits. I’ve seen potholes big enough to swallow cars, literally. It isn’t uncommon to see someone on the side of the road from a bent car frame or wheel rim, from hitting a pothole too hard. At the same time, a construction barrel is the unofficial Michigan state bush.
- Vernors is used to cure stomach aches. Vernors is a ginger ale made in Michigan and has been a home remedy for upset stomachs for decades.
- You might see a public trash can with empty pop bottles and cans lining the top. Michigan’s refund rate is the highest of all the states, at 10 cents a bottle. The empties are left on the top of the garbage so that homeless people don’t have to dig to the bottom of a garbage bag to get some change. Brandy said it is also against the law in the State of Michigan to throw away recyclable bottles.
- I just found out that not everyone says door wall. A door wall in Michigan is what other people might call a sliding glass door.
- You need to drive south of Detroit to get to Ontario, Canada. Our neighbors to the north sometimes live towards the south.
- We have pasties (pas-tees). Pasties were originally associated with Cornwall, England. They were popularized in Michigan by Cornish miners in the 1800’s. A pasty is the original hot pocket. It is a folded pastry case with a savory filling of meat and vegetables. Jenn was confused with stripper pasties, which cover their nipples.
- Canadian coins. Everyone in Michigan is familiar with Canadian coins. I actually have two wallets filled with Canadian money. Whenever I or my daughter go visit our family in the friendly north, I have plenty of coins to pay for things. Back when I was in college and needed coins for the laundromat, it killed me to receive a Canadian quarter. Canadian coins are lighter than American quarters, so machines know not to accept them.
- Euchre (yoo-ker) is the best card game ever. You play with a half deck of cards, the 9’s up to the Aces. You need four people to play, you and your partner against another couple. I have been in euchre tournaments in which I have come in everything from first to last place. Skill only takes you so far, cards and partners do the rest. I had a euchre tournament for 37th birthday. It is still a life highlight.
- As a person in Michigan you have either hit a deer with your car, swerved to avoiding hitting a deer with your car, or you’ve stopped right before hitting a deer. According to the Michigan State Police, there are 50,000 reported vehicle/deer crashes in Michigan every year. Stay alert and scan the edges of the road, people. Ali also believes that if you see one deer, there is two deer. Never assume they have all crossed the road.
20 Facts About Ohio
- Ohio has two NFL (National Football League) teams and two MLB (Major League Baseball) teams.
- Ohio has better roads than Michigan. They have toll road money and more money allocated to the upkeep of their roads. The moment you cross into Michigan from Ohio, the roads are awful enough to make you think you have a flat tire.
- The rubber tire was invented and created in Ohio.
- Ohio does have a lower speed limit, about 65 mph on the expressway. Ohio also has a reputation for mean cops.
- Ohio has normal cost-efficient auto insurance.
- Ohio doesn’t have weird left turns.
- They do have a very large amount of FM church radio on different channels.
- There is a big cement Jesus on the side of the expressway.
- Ohio is the duct tape capital of the world. They have a duct tape festival.
- Ohio has caverns.
- Ohio does not have a rectangle state flag. It looks like two pointed banners sewn together.
- Only smoke bombs and sparklers are legal fireworks in Ohio. Should you have purchased fireworks and you are going through Ohio, you have 48 hours to take them out of the state.
- Speeding tickets for 10 mph over the limit or less garner no points on your license. That is awesome.
- Only front seat passengers have to wear seatbelts, or children 8-15 years old.
- Akron, Ohio was the first city to use a police car.
- Ohio was the first to have concrete roads.
- It is illegal to fish whales on Sunday.
- An old law says only five women can live in one house, no more.
- Ohio’s driving manual says you have to honk when you are passing another car.
- Brandy likes that southern Ohio has a southern accent.