Arthur “Art” Ream, who is already serving life in jail for the murder of a teen girl, is now suspected of possibly being a serial killer, after fellow prison inmates told authorities he bragged about killing other girls. Investigators have spent days digging into a wooded area in Macomb Township, Michigan, looking for possible bodies in the area where the girl Ream was convicted of killing was found. Cindy Zarzycki, 13, was buried in the area after she was killed in 1986. Ream, now 69, was convicted of her murder. After the conviction, he led investigators to Cindy’s body years later, while denying that he had any role in her death. The search in the area resumed on Monday, May 11 after a break for the weekend.
Here is everything you need to know about Art Ream.
1. Police Are Searching an Area North of Detroit for At Least 5 Missing Girls, But Might Start Searching at a New Site This Week
Warren Police have said that Ream bragged in prison about killing four to six people, although he’s only jailed for the death of one teen, Detroit Free Press reported. Authorities believe that Kimberly King, who vanished when she was 12, is among a number of possible female victims who are buried there. Police Commissioner William Dwyer said in a news conference on Wednesday that there was “no question” King and other victims were buried there. They believe all the girls were targeted at random and had no connection to one another. They’re looking for the following missing girls:
- Kimberly King, 12, who disappeared in Warren in September 1979 while visiting her grandmother. She was last seen trying to hitchhike to Warren to visit friends.
- Cynthia Coon, 13, who disappeared in Ann Arbor in 1970. She disappeared before Ream’s first prison sentence. She often walked to school because she didn’t like riding the bus, but never made it to school that day. Her parents received two distraught phone calls from her in April, three months after she disappeared. The calls came from Detroit. In May 1970, the family received an extortion-type call, but they were never contacted again.
- Nadine O’Dell, 16, who disappeared in Inkster in 1974. She was last seen walking toward Michigan Ave. at 9:30 a.m. on August 16, 1974. She was going to babysit at her boyfriend’s house, but she never showed up.
- Kim Larrow, 15, who disappeared in Canton in 1981, west of Detroit. Kim went to visit a friend at an ice cream shop, and they made plans to meet later. She was never seen again after leaving the shop.
- Kellie Brownlee, 17, who disappeared in Novi in 1982. She was staying with her boyfriend’s family that May, because she said her stepfather abused her. Her father pled guilty to fourth-degree criminal sexual misconduct in 1977. Kellie skipped class and hitchhiked to the Twelve Oaks Mall and applied for several jobs. A friend’s mom saw her and offered her a ride home, but she planned to put in more job applications before leaving. It was the last time she was seen.
Authorities are searching a wooded area in Macomb Township that is near where Ream led authorities to the body of Cindy Zarzycki. The area is near the intersection of 23 Mile Road and North Avenue northeast of Detroit, Detroit Free Press reported. Ream led authorities to an unmarked grave in that area in 2008, after he was convicted of Zarzycki’s murder. She was buried about 18 inches into the ground.
Warren Police Commissioner Bill Dwyer said that their strategy could change, however, and they may begin searching a new site next week, ABC 7 reported. A road grader was used on Friday to shave layers off the soil, and metal detectors were used to search for remains. Some physical evidence was found, but more details about what that was were not released. Workers will continue searching the site over the weekend and on Monday.
2. Police Began the Search After Fellow Prisoners Said Art Ream Had Talked About Having Multiple Victims
Police have interviewed Ream and a number of fellow prisoners, some of whom said that Ream had bragged about killing four to six girls. Ream, authorities said, failed a lie detector test.
Not everyone agrees with the idea that Ream had multiple victims, however. Tim Kohler, the lawyer who represented Ream in Zarzycki’s case, said that Ream wasn’t a likable guy and he “baited people,” but he never hinted that he had any additional victims, according to Detroit Free Press. Eric Smith, Macomb County Prosecutor, agreed that authorities saw no signs of additional victims when investigating Ream in 2008.
In video released by prosecutors, Ream can be heard telling investigators, “”I’m into – was into — teenage girls, okay.”
However, Steven Kaplan, former assistant prosecutor who got the murder conviction against Ream, told The Detroit News that he wouldn’t be surprised if there were more unsolved crimes. “He likes to talk and he loves to be the center of attention — he wants people to pay attention to him,” he said. “He never said there were others but because of what we learned about him, we always thought there were other victims.”
3. Art Ream’s Son, Scott, Died in a Car Wreck Just Before He Was Supposed to Talk to Police About Cindy’s Death
Ream was convicted of Cindy Zarzycki’s murder in 2008. Zarzycki was his 14-year-old son Scott Ream’s girlfriend. Ream was convicted of luring Zarzycki to a Dairy Queen, telling her that he was taking her to a birthday party for his son. But his son’s birthday had actually been months earlier. Ream was a carpet installer at the time.
Years later, Scott died in a car crash at the age of 22. He was supposed to meet with police and talk about what happened to Cindy, but he was killed by a drunk driver before he could, Dateline reported.
Scott wasn’t even in town on the day Art Ream claimed he was planning his son’s birthday party. One of Art’s former employees testified in Art’s murder trial that he had requested time off to go to Texas, and Art said he could only have the time off if he took Scott with him, Dateline reported. He offered to pay all the affair and expenses if he did. They left on Friday and were gone for nine to 10 days.
Ream had been married four times, Dateline reported. One of his ex-wives, Linda Bronson, testified against him, saying he had an attraction to young girls and lived in the carpet warehouse after they broke up. Linda, Scott’s mother, was upset by articles that seemed to hint that her dead son was somehow involved in Cindy’s murder. She and Art had two sons together. Their other son, Mark Ream, was born in 1970.
So she came to the police, Dateline reported. “I knew that just couldn’t be true,” she said. “That is why I contacted Danielle Davis.”
She also had details to share about Art, which led to renewing the authorities’ interest in the role he may have played in Cindy’s death. She told authorities that he preyed on young girls and had once raped a hitchhiker in the 70s and tossed her out of his car. He liked having Scott around because girls were attracted to Scott, and he’d try to be the “cool dad,” offering cigarettes, alcohol, or marijuana.
4. Art Ream Was Convicted of Luring His Son’s Girlfriend to a Dairy Queen & Later Killing Her
Cindy had told friends that she was meeting Ream at Dairy Queen the Sunday she disappeared, and he had offered to drive her to his son’s surprise party. When her little brother, Eddie, tried to follow her to Dairy Queen, she told him to go back home, Dateline reported. She’d been to that Dairy Queen many times during her life, and wanted to go alone that day.
At the time, her parents were divorced and her father had custody. Her older sister, Connie, wasn’t home that weekend. The day before she disappeared, Cindy dropped by her mom’s home and seemed agitated but wouldn’t say why. She asked if she could spend the night, but her mom, Alice, had to work. So Cindy visited her friend Cathy’s house and made a phone call finalizing plans for Scott’s birthday party the next day, Sunday. She told Art that she would look for his white van between 10 and 11 the next morning. She asked Cathy to come with her, but Cathy said her mom wouldn’t let her. Cindy seemed desperate for Cathy to be there. She called her friend Theresa on Sunday morning and also told her about the surprise party for Scott and about her ride at Dairy Queen. She asked Theresa to go too, and just like Cathy, Theresa’s mom wouldn’t let her.
“But I think she really wanted to see Scott and she would have done just about anything, maybe,” Theresa told Dateline. She added that Art told Cindy that it didn’t make any sense that her dad would ground her for walking home from the mall by herself.
That Monday, Cathy told the cops that Cindy had gone to Dairy Queen to meet Art for a birthday party, but at the time the police dismissed her testimony. She thought the cops were already convinced Cindy had run away and was just hiding at another girlfriend’s house. For years, the family kept their old phone number, just in case Cindy ever tried to call.
Kaplan said that many things contributed to Ream’s murder conviction, including motive, opportunity, past behavior with young girls, and no alibi. Ream’s van was seen at Dairy Queen when Cindy disappeared. And Ream’s alibi – which claimed he was shopping with his ex-wife — didn’t pan out. His ex-wife told the jury that he wasn’t shopping with her when Cindy disappeared. A prison inmate also testified that Ream had said he was testifying about a girl he had killed.
When he was sentenced, Ream insisted that her death was an accident. At first, he offered to lead investigators to her body in exchange for a second-degree murder conviction. He backed out when they appeared ready to take the deal. After a jury convicted him of first-degree murder, he changed his mind and led authorities to the body, still insisting her death was an accident. He claimed she was with his son on the day she died, and had fallen through an open elevator in Warren at Ream’s carpet warehouse, Sacramento Bee reported.
5. Art Ream Had a ‘Fetish’ For Teen Girls, Authorities Said, & Had Two Prior Convictions Before Being Convicted of Murder
John Calabrese, who was an Eastpointe police officer at the time, told The Detroit News that Ream used to make cryptic comments and didn’t show much emotion before or after the body was found. “I’m not certain he’s capable of remorse,” he said. “He fits the profile of a psychopath.”
Eastpointe Detective Derek McLaughlin said Ream admitted to having a “fetish” for teenage girls, Detroit Free Press reported. Before the murder trail, Ream pleaded guilty in 1998 to third-degree sexual conduct with a 14-year-old girl. He was sentenced in 1998 to four to 15 years in prison and was still serving that sentence when he was charged with murder. He had also been convicted of indecent liberties with a child in August 1975 and served three years in prison. Bronson told authorities that Art had picked up a hitchhiker in the 70s, raped her, and then tossed her out the door. After Ream’s conviction for Cindy’s murder, four more women came to the prosecutor and said they had been sexually abused by Ream too.
This is a developing story.