John Norman Collins and the Coed Murders

The Coed Murders riveted Washtenaw county from the first murder in July 1967 to John Norman Collins' conviction three years later on August 19, 1970. The Ann Arbor News featured hundreds of articles over these three years and the investigation and trial were covered in detail by News police reporter William B. Treml. A detailed summary of the Coed Murders is available in our online version of True Crimes by Sergeant Michael Logghe, formerly of the Ann Arbor Police Department. We've pulled together some highlights below.

You can search and browse using keywords such as Coed Murders, Michigan Murders, John Norman Collins - Murder Trial, or by the people featured in the articles, including John Norman Collins, the victims (listed below), Prosecutor William F. Delhey, Chief Defense Counsel Joseph W. Louisell, Washtenaw County Sheriff Doug Harvey and Judge John W. Conlin.

The Victims
Mary Fleszar, Joan Schell, Maralynn Skelton, Dawn Basom, Alice Kalom, Karen Sue Beineman

The Investigation
A profile emerged, but progress was slow and each new murder brought frustrations, mistakes, and the occasional red herring; by May 1969, the investigation leads had gone cold. In July 1969, Dutch psychic, Peter Hurkos was brought in and by the end of the month the Michigan State Police intervened just before the case broke following the murder of Karen Sue Beineman. Collins was arraigned on August 1, 1969.

The Trial
Jury selection seemed interminable but the trial went quickly, centering on witnesses who placed Collins with the last victim, Karen Sue Beineman, just before her disappearance and the testimony of Collins' friend, Arnold Davis. Additionally, some suspicious paint spots were found in the basement of the home of Collins' uncle, State Police Sgt. David A. Leik, linking him to evidence critical to the case. Collins was found guilty on August 19, 1970. The News featured reactions of local citizens; a profile on the jurors' ordeal; and an opinion from the Editorial desk.

Seven Years Later...
In 1977, News reporter Treml accompanied by staff photographer Jack Stubbs, visited Collins at Jackson Prison for an exclusive interview published in two parts on January 14, 1977 and January 16, 1977. Treml describes his impressions of the visit with Collins in his weekly "As I See It" column and in the interview below.

AADL Talks To Bill Treml about John Norman Collins and the Coed Murders

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AADL Talks to Bill Treml about John Norman Collins 21.4 MB

AADL Talks To Former Sheriff Doug Harvey about John Norman Collins and the Coed Murders

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AADL Talks to Doug Harvey about John Norman Collins 21.4 MB