Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

John Norman Collins: The Co-Ed Killer

The First Body

"A body found yesterday afternoon on a Superior Township farm was tentatively identified as that of a 19-year-old Eastern Michigan University coed who disappeared without a trace July 9."

John Norman Collins
John Norman Collins

This report in the Ann Arbor News on Tuesday, August 8th, 1967 described the first of a string of coed murders in the Ypsilanti/Ann Arbor area of Michigan over the next two years. The body was that of Mary Fleszar, 19, who was last seen by a roommate when she left their apartment near the university campus to go for a walk. She was wearing a bright orange tent dress with large white polka dots, and a pair of sandals. She was five-foot, two-inches, weighing about 110 pounds, wore glasses, and had brown hair. She had not taken her purse, but her car keys were gone, and her car was parked across from where she normally left it, which her mother thought was odd.

Half an hour after she left the apartment, a university police officer had spotted her walking alone. Later, a man sitting on his porch who knew her saw her walking toward her apartment. Then he saw a young man driving a bluish-grey Chevy stop beside her, open his window, and talk with her. She shook her head and walked on. He drove by again and pulled up in front of her. She again shook her head and walked around him. He backed out, accelerated with an angry screech, and left. Concerned, the man on the porch watched her draw close to her building and then lost sight of her, but did not see the car return. He was the last person to see her alive.

The body was found by Saline residents Russell Crisovan, Jr., 15, son of the owner of the farm near Geddes and LaForge Roads, and Mark Lucas, 15. They were working at the farm, preparing to plow a field, when they heard a car door slam. Thinking they might witness a pair of lovers on a clandestine date, they went over to where they had heard the sound. It was near the foundation of a former farmhouse and silo, a sort of dumping site and lovers' lane combined. The car door slammed again and an engine turned over, but by the time they reached the area, the car was gone. They noticed fresh tire tracks in the weeds and followed them for about twenty feet, smelling something foul. Then they spotted a blackish-brown object with leathery skin, which they initially took to be a deer in an advanced state of decomposition. Flies and bugs crawled all over it in the summer heat. The carcass appeared to have a head, but it was rotten and shapeless. Then one of them noticed that the ear looked human, so they beat it out of there and drove straight to the Ypsilanti post of the State Police.

 

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