Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

John Norman Collins: The Co-Ed Killer

Additional Evidence I

In 1991, First Lieutenant Earl James of the Michigan State Police published a book called Catching Serial Killers. He devotes a segment to the Collins case because he had been assigned to go through all the papers and put together a summary. He includes evidence that he says was not made public before that he believes links Collins more clearly with seven of the eight murders. The police had held some information back in the event that Collins ever got a new trial (for which he petitioned in 1988). A summary of this evidence appears below. However, in some of the cases, there is some question as to whether Collins had anything to do with them or perhaps that there was more than one man involved.

In the case of Mary Fleszar, it was noted that she had contacted medical services because she was afraid she was pregnant. Her doctor believed that she was, despite no clear indication during his examination. She claimed that a classmate to whom she had given a ride had raped her. There was reason to believe she had just gotten an abortion before she was killed. Her roommate said she was having her period, but doctors believe this was post-abortion spotting. Missing from her effects was an Expo '67 Canadian silver dollar that she wore around her neck. Such an item was apparently found on Collins' dresser, according to police, when his rooms were searched. He claimed that it was not his and denied that it had been in his room.

Joan Schell was last seen getting into a car with three men. Collins' roommate, Arnie Davis, said that he was in that car with Collins and another man whose name he claimed not to know. (His brother had a car the same color.) Collins allegedly had told the girl that he would take her to Ann Arbor in his own car. Davis says that they left together from the apartment and Collins came back two and a half hours later to say that he had failed to have the sexual encounter with her that he had hoped for. He had her red purse with him, which he said she had left in his car. He went through the wallet, says Davis, and called her a bitch. There was also speculation by the police that Davis was actually along when Collins and the other man together raped and killed Schell in a parking lot. Later, Collins apparently asked Davis to hide a hunting knife, which was the type of knife that could have made the wounds found on her. Collins told someone that he did not know Schell, although several witnesses claimed to see them together that night. He told someone else that he'd had a date with her but had stood her up. No one checked out his alibi of being at his mother's that weekend, although someone said that he had overheard Collins on the phone to his mother, telling her that he was in some trouble. One person said that he talked obsessively about the wounds on Schell's body, claiming that he got the information from his uncle, a corporal on the State Police force. However, Corporal Leik said he knew only what had been printed in the newspaper.  He could not have told Collins the things he apparently knew.


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