True crime, police dramas, murder mysteries: They hold an irresistible allure for many of us.
For Greg Stejskal, that allure led to a three-decade career in law enforcement as a special agent in the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Born in 1949, he traces his fascination with crimefighting to TV shows like “The Adventures of Superman” (1952-58) and the 1959 film The FBI Story, starring Jimmy Stewart.
For nearly 32 years, Stejskal was based in Michigan, operating out of Detroit and Ann Arbor. His 2021 book FBI Case Files: Michigan (The History Press) reads like a “greatest hits” of the state’s most notorious criminals and the investigations that took them down.
“It’s very gratifying, very rewarding,” Stejskal says of his record in law enforcement. “But I also want to say, and this is important, everything I ever did in my bureau career was always with other people. So much of our success comes through a team effort.”
The beauty in reading a book like this? Stejskal delivers the high points on the page and leaves the mind-numbing police work on the table. As he points out, “It’s not easy to distill a 20-year investigation into something as exciting as a movie or TV show.”
(History Press, 2021)
The disappearance of Teamsters President Jimmy Hoffa (just weeks after Stejskal arrived at the FBI’s Detroit field office in summer 1975). Widely believed to be a victim of murder, Hoffa’s body has never been recovered.
The identification of Unabomber and U-M grad Ted Kaczyinski, a domestic terrorist who sent 16 bombs to people (including U-M professor James McConnell) between 1978-95. He was only apprehended after the New York Times and Washington Post published a manifesto detailing his inner thoughts, and his brother confirmed his identity.
The takedown of a major player working for the nation’s largest marijuana smuggler and distributor. His name was James Hill and he owned an ice cream shop called The Lovin’ Spoonful on Main Street in Ann Arbor. Stejskal knew him as “the Joker.” He went to prison in 1990.
A landmark case regarding free speech on the Internet that arose when 22-year-old U-M student Jake Baker was caught emailing murder fantasies with a fellow deviant. Baker actually named a specific woman and her address in his online ramblings. The judge cited the First Amendment when dismissing the case.
In his retirement, Stejskal continues to follow the bureau’s work with intense curiosity. These days, he pays close attention to cases emerging from the Jan. 6 insurrection at the nation’s Capitol.
Listen in, as Stejskal takes you inside the mind of a seasoned G-man as he recounts some of the most memorable cases in his career. He recently traveled to Los Angeles for an interview with producers of the History Channel program “History’s Greatest Mysteries.”
About the Author
DEBORAH HOLDSHIP is the editor of Michigan Today. She joined the University in 2007 as editorial manager in the marketing communications department at the Ross School of Business, where she was editor of Dividend magazine for five years. Prior to working at Michigan, Deborah was associate director of publications at the UCLA Anderson School of Management. From 1988-2001, Deborah worked in the entertainment industry in Los Angeles, where she was a reporter and editor at Billboard magazine and an associate editor and video producer at LAUNCH media. Follow her on Twitter: @debholdship #michigantoday.
gary rothberger - 1972
He seems to have forgotten to mention the FBI’s wide spread record of spying on and harassing antiwar activists and other political dissenters in Ann Arbor during his fun employment with the American secret police
Mr. Rothberger obviously hasn’t read my book. I entered on duty in 1975, several years after the anti-war protests. I did spend some time surveilling the KKK, but suspect Mr. Rothberger would have no problem with that.
Melanie Welch - 1970s
Dear Greg Stejskal,
Ann Arbor could sure benefit from your skills right now. Would you be interested in investigating the corruption in the Ann Arbor City government?