Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

John Norman Collins: The Co-Ed Killer

The Victims I

Ypsilanti Sheriff Douglas Harvey points to the spot where Dawn Basom's body was discovered
Ypsilanti Sheriff Douglas Harvey points
to the spot where Dawn Basom's body
was discovered

Collins was implicated superficially in 15 murders, but only the first seven on the list are officially considered his, as outlined in The Michigan Murders. Numbers eight and nine are very likely his. Characteristic of his murders were strangulation, beating about the head (dehumanization), articles of clothing missing, nude or semi-nude bodies, evidence of sexual assault, disappearance without a struggle, and disposal of bodies to ensure discovery. Most of the girls had long, brown hair and ears, and several were having their periods.

  • Mary Fleszar, 19, from Willis, Michigan. She had been working as a secretary and majored in accounting. She went for a walk on July 9, 1967, from her apartment in Ypsilanti near the Eastern Michigan University campus and was found a month later on August 7 on a farm near Geddes and LaForge Roads. She was nude and had been stabbed repeatedly in the chest, with body parts missing. She was killed elsewhere and dumped here; also moved several times.
  • Joan Schell, 20, from Plymouth, Michigan. She was an art major at Eastern Michigan University. On June 30, 1968, she was hitch-hiking in front of the EMU student union, around 10:30 p.m., and was found a week later outside Ann Arbor near Glacier Way and Earhart Roads. She had been sexually molested, her throat was slashed, and she had been stabbed five times. She was killed elsewhere and dumped here. Her miniskirt was twisted around her neck. She was seen getting into a car with three young men.
  • Jane Mixer, 23, of Muskegon, Michigan. She was a freshman law student at the University of Michigan. She was supposed to meet a "David Johnson" to get a ride home on March 20, 1968. She was found the next day in a cemetery in Denton Township. She had been shot twice in the head with a .22 caliber gun. She was killed elsewhere, and a stocking was twisted around her neck. (There is some speculation that she is not among Collins' victims, because the location of her body was far afield from the others, dumped in an atypical site, and because she was fully clothed.)
  • Maralynn Skelton, 16, of Romulus, Michigan. She was a high school dropout, known to run with a bad crowd. She was last seen hitch-hiking in front of Arborland Shopping Center on March 24, 1969, and was found the next day near Glacier Way and Earhart Roads. Her skull was cracked in three places, and she had been whipped with a belt and sexually molested. She was killed elsewhere and dumped here. A garter belt was wrapped around her neck.
  • Dawn Basom, 13, of Ypsilanti, Michigan. She was leaving a house near the EMU campus to go home on April 15, 1969, and was found the next day near Gale and Vreeland Roads. She had been strangled with a black electrical wire and stabbed in several places. She was killed elsewhere, possibly in a deserted farm house where items of her clothing were found. She was an eighth-grade student, the youngest of the victims.

 

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