Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

John Norman Collins: The Co-Ed Killer

Task Force Established

The sixth victim of "the Ypsilanti coed slayer" was Alison Kalom, age 23. Three young boys walking across a disused farm on June 8 found her at the edge of a field. Her body was stabbed multiple times and her throat was cut. She had also been shot in the head, and her torn clothes were scattered around her. A sheer purple strip cut from her blouse was tied around her forehead. Her pantyhose were slashed at the crotch, and one of her shoes was missing. The other, a purple pump with a bow, lay nearby. She was last seen leaving a party in Ann Arbor the day before.

The murder site was located five miles form the body. There Deputy Earl Lewis found a pair of brown loafers and two red buttons missing from the victim's raincoat, along with brownish stains scattered all over which turned out to be blood that matched the victim's type. The loafers fit the victim's feet, and the purple shoes were soon explained when it was discovered that she had just bought them. The empty shoe box lay in her apartment, along with her purse, indicating that the killer may have been there with her — and he might have the missing shoe.

After this murder, a crime center was set up for a specific task force to be focused solely on the coed murders. All files were gathered and stored in a building on Washtenaw Avenue that once had been a Catholic seminary.

At the same time, a citizen's group, outraged by the failures of the multiple police department task force, decided to take action. They raised money and contacted the famous psychic Peter Hurkos, who had been involved in the case of the Boston Strangler a few years earlier. The profile he gave contained some elements that helped, but many that were misleading. He predicted that the killer would soon strike again, and he did that very week.

Karen Sue Beineman, 18, who had written to her parents that she was being careful, inexplicably accepted a ride with a stranger on a motorcycle on July 23, 1969. She mentioned this to the owner of a wig shop, who warned her not to go with the man and who was probably the last person to see Beineman alive. Three days later, she was found strangled, beaten, and sexually abused. She had been raped either while she was dying or right afterward. Once side of her face was a pulpy mass of bruises. The autopsy later revealed that a piece of material was stuff into her throat, her torn panties were stuffed into her vagina, and there were human hair clippings stuck to the panties. She had been in that location only about a day and a half.

Since the body was sheltered in a wooded gully, this time Sheriff Harvey was successful in keeping the grim discovery out of the news. He ordered a stake-out, replacing the body with a store mannequin, to see if the killer would return.


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