John Norman Collins

AKA The Ypsilanti Ripper and or The Co-Ed Killer.

Breiff Overview of John Collins

So between the years of 1967 and 1969, the state of Michigan's Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti area woman between the ages of 13 and 23, were afraid for their lives. There was a mad man on the loose. In there was a total of 5 woman he brutally abducted, raped, beat, and murdered.

Murder #1, Mary Terese Fleszar

The first known murder The Co-Ed killer was Mary Terese Fleszar. She was a 19 year old Eastern Michigan University accounting student. She was last seen on July 9th 1967 walking home. When her body was found, it was by two 15 year old boys in an abandoned farm in Superior Township, On August the 7th. Almost a month after she was last seen. The body when found was nude and badly decomposed on top of many other injuries clearly viable. Pathologist had determined that the body had been stabbed approximately 30 times in the chest and abdomen with a sharp object. That was not the ex-stent to her wounds however. Her feet had been severed from her body just above her ankles. Her thumb and sections of the fingers on one hand were also missing. Now we say one hand because the other complete forearm had been severed from the body as well. These body parts were never found.

After investigators had arrived at the scene a detailed examination of the crime scene took place. They had discovered that the body had been moved three times throughout the month it was in that area. At first, the body was laying a pile of bottles and cans near some elder trees that hid it. It was then dragged five feet from this location into a field, where it had remained exposed throughout most of the month. Although right before the body was found, it had been moved three more feet.

After Mary's body had been found, it was formally identified by dental records the next day

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Murder #s 2,3,4,5

Joan Elspeth Schell,Jane Louise Mixer, Maralynn Skelton, Dawn Louise Basom, and Alice Elizabeth Kalom were all woman that Collins had elatedly murdered within the following years. All woman, except Mixer, had very similar murders. Each had been the recipient of extensive violence inflicted with a blunt and/or bladed instrument prior to her murder; each of the victims' bodies had been found within a 15-mile radius of Washtenaw County; and each victim (again except Mixer) had received knife wounds to the neck. Furthermore, each victim had been found with an item of clothing tied around her neck, Although not every woman was raped, most were. Also, all the woman fit a similar profile, all had been white brunettes, and a college student. Although some had been more brutally murdered, they all had astonishing links to each other that had to have been done by the same hand.

His Final Murder

Karen Sue Beineman was an 18 year old Eastern Michigan University student last seen alive on July 23rd 1969. After he body was discovered a medical examination revealed Beineman had been extensively beaten about the face and body, with some lacerations inflicted being so severe sections of skin had been removed. She had received extensive skull and brain injuries which had been inflicted with a blunt object. She had been forced to ingest a caustic substance, and her neck, shoulders, nipples and breasts had been burned with the same caustic agent.As had been the case with previous victims, her killer had placed a section cloth in her throat to muffle her screams throughout her torture. She had actually died of strangulation however. She had also been raped prior to her death and her torn panties had been placed in her vagina which had human on them. Also they discovered blond hair clippings inside her as well. Which would later be proven important.
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Investigation and why John Collins was Suspected

After the murder of Karen Sue Beineman investigators decided to test a theory. With all of the previous murders the killer had returned to the sites of the murder. So with the help of news blackouts about the discovery of latest victim, police placed a mannequin at the scene of the crime and undercover cops sat and waited all around the area. At 2 am the next morning an officer observed a young man running from the area. Unable to translate this sighting to his fellow officers on wat due to a storm. the young man got away.

The next step was to investigate the wig shop were Beineman had visited immediately prior to her disappearance. Now much like all of the other victims, there were eye witnesses who saw a young man with short, side-parted dark hair, talking to the woman. The eye witness from Beinemans case was a woman named Mrs. Goshe. She had talked to Karen, and when doing so Karen told her that "I've got to be either the bravest or the dumbest girl alive, because I've just accepted a ride from this guy". After that Mrs Goshe saw them ride away on his motorcycle.

The motercycle was very important peice of evidence to police. Mrs. Goshe had thought the motercycle to be a Honda of some sort. However after the police questioned Mrs. Goshe the also questioned Carol Wieczerca, a clerk in the store adjacent to the wig shop, Wieczerca was able to state that the model of the motorcycle upon which Beineman had rode away from the wig shop was actually a Triumph. That later lead to The description of the young man with whom Beineman had last been seen alive was heard by a patrolman named Larry Mathewson, who believed the person described by Mrs. Goshe and others may be one John Norman Collins. Collins was a former fraternity member of his who had previously been interviewed but eliminated from police inquiries, and who he had himself seen riding his motorcycle around the Eastern Michigan University campus on the afternoon of July 23. When Mathewson questioned Collins on July 25 as to his movements two days earlier, he admitted that on the date in question he had been riding his Triumph Bonneville in the vicinity, and that he had stopped to converse with a former girlfriend of his while doing so (the point at which Mathewson had observed him). Police had already established that Collins was a known motorcycle enthusiast who owned several motorcycles, including a blue Triumph Bonneville.

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What Got Him

After the police had started learning all of these details about Collins he immediatly became a suspect. Therefore they questioned people in Collins like such as Collins' co-workers. Apon questioning they learned that Collins had repeatedly taken delight in describing, in graphic detail, details of the injuries inflicted upon each successive victim linked to the Michigan Murderer to his female colleagues. He told his co workers that he had got these detail from his uncle David Leik. David Leik was a sergeant in the police force. All of the details Collins told were consistent with the murders of the six victims. The information and detail of these murders were not disclosed to the media and David Leik would inform investigators that he had not disclosed any information regarding the Michigan Murders to his nephew.

After Collins was the forces number one suspect his uncle did some digging in his own home.David Leik had been on vacation with his family at the time of Beineman's disappearance, and had only returned home on July 29—three days after the discovery of her body. Throughout their vacation, Collins had been temporarily residing in the Leik family's Ypsilanti home, having been granted sole access to the house in order that he could feed their dogs. When they got back home, Leik's wife, had noted numerous paint marks covering the floor of the family basement, and that several items including a bottle of ammonia, some washing powder, and a canister of black spray paint were missing from the household. After accusations against his nephew, the dots started to connect in his head. Leik then went down to the basement and scraped away some of the black paint which had been sprayed in his basement to reveal a stain which looked ominously like human blood and immediately returned to the police station to report his findings.

The Arest

After Leik presented the evidence his basement was examined by forensic experts. Later that morning that the stains covered by the black paint had actually been varnnish stains, one of the investigators discovered numerous hair clippings aside the family washing machine. The same size and color of the ones found in Beineman. When questioned as to the source of these clippings, Leik (who had not been informed of the discovery of the hair clippings found upon Beineman's panties) informed investigators that his wife regularly cut their children's hair in this basement, and that she had done so shortly before the family had embarked upon their vacation. Moreover, this search had also uncovered small bloodstains in nine areas of the basement. Two of these bloodstains were discovered to be blood type A, same as Karen Sue Beineman. Also the samples of the hairs found in Beineman and at Leik's home were a exact match.

Collins was arrested and his apartment and vehicles thoroughly searched.Despite recovering numerous stolen items from his apartment and being informed by Arnold Davis that Collins had been in the habit of committing burglaries with a former roommate of theirs named Andrew Manuel, no incriminating evidence linking Collins to Beineman or any victim of the Michigan Murders was discovered. Although officers were informed by Arnold Davis on this date of the incident two days earlier in which he (Davis) had observed Collins carrying a laundry box containing women's clothing and jewelry from his apartment and towards his car.

Arrangement, Pretrial Hearings

On August 1, 1969, John Norman Collins was formallyarraigned for the murder of Karen Sue Beineman. He was held without bond.On August 14, 1969, Collins attended a pretrial hearing at Ypsilanti District Court. After hearing six hours of testimony from nine prosecution witnesses, Judge Edward Deake ruled that probable cause had been established, and Collins was formally ordered to stand trial for Beineman's murder.At a second hearing in September, Collins refused to enter a plea; Washtenaw County Circuit Court Judge John Conlin ordered a plea of not guilty entered on his behalf. At this hearing, Collins' court-appointed attorney, Richard Ryan, challenged the validity of the physical evidence and the credibility of the circumstantial evidence before formally requesting the case against his client be dismissed and the evidence seized from his rooming house and vehicle suppressed upon the grounds Collins had not consented to a police search of his property. Ryan further stated at this hearing he was "undecided" as to whether the upcoming trial be held away from the Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti district due to pretrial publicity, and this final motion was held in abeyance until an impartial jury could be selected.On October 14, Judge Conlin rejected defense motions to dismiss the case, or supressany evidence obtained; ruling Collins' arrest had been on the reasonable grounds he had committed a felony

Polygraph Test

In November, Ryan, in an effort to determine the most effective defense strategy, persuaded Collins to undergo a private and independent polygraph test. Prosecutor William F. Delhey agreed to a proviso that the test be conducted off the record and its results remain confidential.] After the examination, at a meeting with the family in Judge Conlin's chambers, Ryan summarized its tentative conclusions and suggested a "diminished capacity" plea for an insanity defense. Mrs. Collins, incensed at the implication, immediately dismissed Ryan from the case.

In January 1970, Neil Fink and Joseph Louisell, partners at one of Detroit's highest-priced law firms, agreed to take over Collins' defense. Mrs. Collins reportedly remortgaged her home to secure their services.Judge Conlin set a trial date of June 1.


The trial of John Norman Collins for the murder of Karen Sue Beineman began in the Washtenaw County Court Building on June 2, 1970. He was tried in Ann Arbor, before Judge John Conlin. The prosecutors at Collins' trial, William Delhey and Booker Williams, opted to charge Collins only with the murder of Karen Sue Beineman. Although he was firmly linked to the murders of the other woman, the prosecutor knew he would have a better chance of winning with the one conviction due to it was the easiest proven.

Throughout the trial there were many eye witness testimonies given from both sides. The closing arguments were both very well also. All the evidence in the trial was presented by the prosecutors to the court. Weather threw eye witness testimony or physical evidence such as the the individual evidence of the hairs, or class evidence like the blood stains blood type being A.


On August 19, 1970, John Norman Collins was unanimously found guilty of the first-degree murder of Karen Sue Beineman; he remained impassive upon hearing the jury foreman announce the verdict, although many spectators gasped audibly, and his mother and sister left the courtroom in tears. Formal sentencing was scheduled for 8:30 a.m. August 28. On this date, Collins was formally sentenced to life imprisonment with no possibility of parole. Prior to his passing sentence, Judge Conlin asked Collins if he wished to address the court before manditory life sentencing was imposed. In response, Collins rose from his chair and made the following speech:

“I have two things to say: I think they [the jury] conscientiously tried to give me a fair trial. The jury did not take its task lightly, but, I think things were blown out of proportion. The circumstances surrounding this case prevented me from getting a fair trial. It was a travesty of justice that took place in this courtroom. I hope some day it will be corrected; second, I never knew a girl named Karen Sue Beineman; I never had a conversation with her. I never took her to a wig shop; I never took her to my uncle's home ... I never took her life.”

Collins was then informed by Judge Conlin that if the jurors' verdict was wrong, the error would be corrected in due course. He was then sentenced to serve a term of life imprisonment with hard labor, in solitary confinement, at Southern Michigan Prison.

Upon receipt of the guilty verdict against their client, Collins' defense attorneys announced their intention to appeal upon the grounds of "tainted identification and the change of venue question." The first motion by Collins' attorneys, contending denial of defense motions to move the trial outside of Washtenaw County and the prejudice of prosecution witnesses, was filed with the Michigan Court of Appeals on December 14, 1970. This first appeal was formally rejected on October 24, 1972.



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