Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

John Norman Collins: The Co-Ed Killer

Collins Arrested

As the lab experts crawled around on the floor, one of them noticed hair clippings near the washing machine. Leik explained that his wife had cut the children's hair. Aware of the odd clippings found on Beineman's panties, they gathered some from the basement floor to compare to those already at the lab.

The Leik home, the location of Karen Beineman's murder
The Leik home, the location of Karen
Beineman's murder

Then they noticed tiny droplets that looked like blood. When tested, these did indeed prove to be blood. When later tests revealed that the bloodstains were human and that the hairs could be consistent with those on the panties, Collins was arrested — just as his attorney was taking him away from interrogations. Another five minutes and he might have been free to bolt.

Although his car had been thoroughly cleaned, blood matching Alice Kalom's type was found near the front seat. A red-and-white piece of cotton fabric was also pulled out, and that was found to match the belt around the throat of a 17-year-old female murdered in June in California.

In fact, Collins and a friend had stolen a camper-trailer and gone to Salinas, California at the end of June. Roxie Phillips had disappeared from there on June 30 and her nude, strangled body was found two weeks later in a canyon near Carmel. She had been wearing a red-and-white cotton pantsuit, and the belt from it was tied tightly around her neck. A friend of hers claimed to have met a "John" from Michigan cruising around Philips' neighborhood who liked to drive motorcycles. Philips was left in a bed of poison oak, and Collins was treated in a hospital there for a case of poison oak. It seemed a clear connection.

Then Arnold Davis remembered another incident. He had been one of the three men in the car when Joan Schell was picked up, although he did not know who she was at the time. He stated that she had made plans to get together with Collins when the other men went their own way, and that Collins later had claimed that he'd left her in an empty parking lot when she'd been sexually uncooperative. It also turned out that Collins had an office across the hall from Mary Fleszar's and often visited friends who lived across the hall from a unit frequented by Maralynn Skelton.

Even so, the case against him was thin and mostly circumstantial.


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