John Norman Collins – 1967

By | November 12, 2016

“If a person holds a gun on somebody – it’s up to him to decide whether to take the other’s life or not”


Collins is surrounded by policemen as he is brought from the courthouse


The first of the Michigan, or Co-Ed, Murders happened on 10 July 1967 when bespectacled, 1.58 m (5 ft 2 in), 19-year-old Eastern Michigan University student Mary Fleszar was killed. Her body laid undiscovered for almost a month until 7 August when Russell Crisovan and Mark Lucas, both 15, found her remains while playing near an old farmhouse in a field in Superior Township, 3 km (2 mi) north of Ypsilanti. Mary was naked, prone, missing her feet, one forearm and hand and the fingers of the other hand were also gone.

She had been stabbed about 40 times. On 15 April 1969 Dawn Basom, 13, was found half-naked at the side of a country road in Ypsilanti. She had been raped, strangled with electrical flex and had her breasts almost cut off. Two months later, on 9 Jun the remains of Alice Kalom, 23, a student from Kalamazoo, were discovered near an abandoned barn on North Territorial Road. She had been raped, shot in the head and stabbed twice in the chest. She was barefoot. On 23 July Karen Sue Beineman, 18, went missing.

She was found dead four days later, beaten, raped and strangled, her knickers stuffed into her mouth. Human hair was stuck to the underwear.Police thought that the killer might return to the murder site and staked out the area. Sure enough a man turned up but poor weather made capture impossible. A description was circulated and campus policeman Larry Mathewson identified his friend John Norman Collins, who was questioned and released. Collins had been looking after the home of his uncle, David Leik, while he was on holiday. Police found bloodstains on the floor of Leik’s basement, which was where Leik’s wife cut their children’s hair. Collins was re¬arrested and charged with the murder of Karen Sue Beineman. His trial opened on 2 June 1970 at Washtenaw County Court in Ann Arbor. An expert stated that the hair found in the basement matched that found on Karen Sue Beineman’s underwear.


Ypsilanti, Michigan, USA


Monday 10 July 1967

THE AFTERMATH: On 19 August 1970 the jury unanimously found Collins guilty. On 23 August 1970, Collins was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum of 20 years to be served, with hard labour. Collins once said, “If a person holds a gun on somebody — it’s up to him to decide whether to take the other’s life or not.”


In a bid to crack the case the police consulted Dutch psychic Peter Hurkos.

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