TRAVERSE CITY -- July 1968 found a 7-year-old Mardi Link seated in the back of her family's car, headed north for a camping trip.
She already wore her bathing suit underneath her clothes in anticipation of the vacation. Her father listened to a Detroit Tigers game on the radio. Then, a stop in the sportscast. The voice that interrupted announced the gruesome discovery of six bodies in a bullet-ridden cabin near Good Hart. The victims: A downstate family, from Lathrup Village, summering in northern Michigan. Among the dead was daughter Susan Clair Robison, age 7.
"It just really stuck with me that this other 7-year-old girl who I had never met, would never meet, was killed doing the exact same thing I was," Link said.
The 1968 unsolved slayings of Richard and Shirley Robison and their four children lurked in the back of Link's mind through journalism school at Michigan State University and when she moved out east for a newspaper reporting job. Link periodically checked up on the case, its trail cold from the start because the victims weren't found for nearly a month.
"(I) always had this folder of information that I was slowly adding to," she said.
When Link moved to Traverse City in 1990, she continued to keep tabs on the murders. And now, 40 years after the crime that made such an impression on her as a young girl, Link authored a book aimed at telling the true story of the murders and the investigation. The upcoming "When Evil Came to Good Hart: An Up North Michigan Cold Case" will be published by The University of Michigan Press in hardcover and paperback editions.
Link's book is the latest volume inspired by the Robison murders. James Pecora of Lansing released "Dead End" in 2006 and Judith Guest penned 2004's suspense novel "The Tarnished Eye."