John Busby's bullet-riddled car is shown impounded at the Falmouth, Mass. police station. Busby, a police officer in Falmouth, was driving to work when he was ambushed just a few miles from his home on Aug. 31, 1979. A blue sedan pulled up to his car and shot him point blank. The shotgun blast tore through Busby's face and jaw. Doctors were not sure he'd survive.
Cylin Busby, center, her older brothers, Eric and Shawn, and their pet box turtle, sit in front of their father's Volkswagen Beetle just hours before he was ambushed in it and left for dead. The next time Cylin saw her father's car was in a black and white photo on the front page of the Cape Cod Times... riddled with shotgun pellets.
An X-ray of John Busby's lower face. His jawbones were shattered, most of his teeth were gone, his tongue was almost severed and his chin was hanging down onto his chest. He had to undergo 18 years of reconstructive surgery. Had the bullets passed an inch higher or farther back, Busby would have bled to death or died from brain damage.
Kellie Collier, John and Polly's niece, was babysitting the Busby kids in the summer of 1979. Only 18 years old, she was in charge of keeping her three young cousins safe after Polly rushed to the hospital. Police feared that the man who shot John Busby would come after his family next.
John Busby's police I.D. Busby did not see who had shot him, but says he knew who would want him dead. Before he lost consciousness, he wrote a note to police officers on the scene: "Not an Accident -- Melvin Reine." Busby had several run-ins with Reine relatives which angered Melvin. Despite Busby's note, no one from the Falmouth Police Dept. ever questioned him.
Melvin Reine, a prime suspect in John Busby's shooting. Reine had sealed his image as a local bad guy long before the shooting. In 1968, he was convicted for a string of arsons. He was also a suspect in a murder and two disappearances, including that of his first wife. These crimes remain unsolved. It was widely known that Reine had friends and relatives in the police department. Watch: The Year We Disappeared
Credit: Loretta Gilfoy
John Reine, Melvin's older brother. In July 1979, John Busby was conducting traffic at the scene of a fatal accident. John Reine, who was in his truck, did not wait for traffic to clear. He drove through, hitting Busby in the arm. Busby charged Reine with assault and battery with a deadly weapon. Just weeks before John Reine was to appear in court, Busby was shot.
Wanda Medeiros Reine, Melvin Reine's first wife, then 25, disappeared in 1971. Reine told police he drove his wife to the Falmouth bus station so she could visit a cousin in Wareham, Mass. Police investigated various leads. They even dug up foundations that Melvin worked on as a contractor, but never found Wanda's body.
With the gunman still on the loose, the Busbys feared he would come back to kill John or the whole family. Police provided 24-hour protection for the first few months after the shooting. Then, the town built an eight-foot fence, installed an alarm system, and provided a guard dog for the family.
Max the guard dog had to be chained up in the yard. He was trained to attack anyone he thought was going to hurt John Busby. After months of living like prisoners in their own home, the Busbys left town and went into hiding.
John Busby had only one thing on his mind after the shooting: revenge. Police hadn't made any arrests, so he decided he was going to have to get justice himself. Busby spent days alone in his room and planned how he would kill Melvin Reine.
After years of struggle, John Busby finally overcame his desire for revenge. When confronted with the opportunity, he decided not to shoot Melvin Reine. In 2001, he watched his daughter, Cylin, marry. In 2008, they co-wrote a book, "The Year We Disappeared." John and his wife, Polly, together more than 40 years, live in an undisclosed tropical location.