Karen Sue Beineman, 18, of Grand Rapids, Michigan. She was an EMU freshman attending summer classes. She had just sent a note to her parents assuring them she was being careful, but then accepted a ride on a motorcycle from a man she did not know. She was last seen on July 23, 1969, leaving a wig shop to go with him, and was found, strangled, in a ravine off Riverside Drive near Huron River Drive in Ann Arbor. Her face was badly battered and she was nude. She had been killed elsewhere. She was the last victim before Collins was caught, and it was the evidence found on her that led to his conviction.
Riverside at Chalmers is where Karen Sue Beineman was found. This road is just outside of town but it appears very remote in the photographs. It was very risky for the killer maneuvering around with a body so close to the city limits.
JNC top right corner
Look at the density of the swamp brush across the street from the ravine and creek. It was impossible for a stakeout to be located here. But it seemed like a good idea at the time. The walkie talkies made too much noise. The mosquitoes were torturing the sheriffs, humidity and rain were all hampering the stake out.
They have a little bridge with this railing. It is very creepy looking down at that creek bed. Such a beautiful natural setting. Such a horrific thing for the residents to find.
The Karen Sue Beineman case lead to the arrest and conviction of John Norman Collins. Forensics and hair fragments came through in the end.
The former Wig shop on Washington St. Just across from the old Art One theater. This is a narrow street and wouldn't be a big stretch for a bystander to clearly see a person driving off on a motorcycle.
This is the former JJ Cycle where John Norman hung out.
From a RK Reader:
Collins used to hang out at JJ Cycle on Ecorse road. He was there one time, I thought he worked there, and I asked him questions about a Hodaka dirtbike on the sales floor that I wanted but could never afford as a 12-13 year old kid. But I used to go up there a lot to sit on the bikes, grab brochures, etc. as it was only a couple of blocks from my house. After talking to him at J.J's, I saw him once at Roy's Squeeze Inn (drive in restaurant) , and at W.T. Grant's (discount store) and we waved to each other...
When Collins picked up Karen Sue Beineman, the women who worked in the Wig Shop on Washington street misidentified the bike as a 450 Honda. According to the Michigan Murders book by Edward Keyes, one of the women had been motorcycle shopping with her husband the previous weekend, looking at Hondas. The reason the bike stuck out in her mind was as she thought, the bike she identified had a square rear view mirror. Collins Triumph had a round rear view mirror.
Bike Like Collins road...
The police, Ypsi press, Ann Arbor news and Detroit TV stations ran pictures of a 450 Honda identical to my Dad's bike. Dad was hassled A LOT in the following weeks by the police, even being run off the road by a Washtenaw County Sheriff. Collins actually was riding a 650 Triumph Bonneville similar to the 900 Bonnie I ride now. He also had another Triumph, 2 Bultacos, and a green 69 Olds Cutlass 442, possibly all stolen...
READ MORE ON JOHN NORMAN COLLINS
Hi. This is interesting. I was at EMU during those years and it was a frightening place. All coeds from Ann Arbor to Ypsilanti were warned not to be alone but sometimes it could not be helped. I recall information about body parts being found in JNC house, like ovaries. He did disgusting horrid things to women. We were told he draped the bodies over grave markers. I was cut with my own life I carried for safety! He was known locally on campus by lots of people whether a student or not. Everyone seemed to have a JNC story. There was really not much help for the girls on campus during those years. It was easy at EMU to enter a dorm because there were no locks and pizza delivery always came knocking,Dominos was invented in Ypsilanti.I worked at Buell Hall and sign ins and outs were not enforced. EMU was a nice campus with many hidden areas off Washtenaw Avenue. I hope they don't let him out...ever.
I would like to talk to someone about the John Collins case. My rapist looked just like him and bragged about going to Ann Arbor all the time,and asked after the rape who I thought the serial killer was!
It occurred the same week they arrested JNC.
I believe due to the position of my rapist, in society, they couldn't prosecute him, so they got someone who looked just like him.
I would like to talk to JNC, but I am afraid to. The DNA testing was not done back then. Why don't they run the DNA now on the their specimens and see if they match. Certainly, sperm was keeped which could prove JNC's innocence at least for all of the murders. My rapist is still alive and they could get his DNA also, if they really wanted to prove anything. I would think JNC would have requested this by now anyways. I was put on a the witness protection program back then because the things that were done to me were similar to what was done to the victims.
I wish his attorney would talk with me.
My mother was friends with Maralynn Skelton. She told me years ago that Maralynn was killed by a motorcycle gang. She said that the girl was an informant. A woman police officer mentioned her name to someone and that someone "dropped the dime" on Maralynn.
Reading this book should be required for all college students, especially females.
I know hitch-hiking was popular in the 60's, along with a lot of other things, and these girls were young; living out on their own for the first time (but not in the case of your 13-year-old-classmate) and enjoying their freedom, but people are crazy! I blame the killers for these tragedies! It is scary to think this all went on as long as it did without the police catching **someone**, especially with so many close encounters.
It really hammers down the point that you need to watch yourself. Watch where you walk, tell people where you are going, when youre coming back, have pepper spray on your key chain, and don't go to people's houses/take rides with people that you just met. Seems basic enough, but a lot of this could have been avoided (or just brought the killer behind bars faster) if these girls would have followed these basic precautions.
You are absolutely right. I was 12 when this was happening and brave(stupid) my daughter 17 is smarter. That is the lesson we learned from this monster. My brother and I wanted to rembemr those poor girls and caution you young girls to be careful who you trust. Thanks for your remarkable comments!
I finished the book last winter. My mom had it on the book shelf from when she originally bought it, in the 70's. I finally picked it up and read it. Although it all happened 20-some-odd-years before I was born, I did recognize many of the streets and locations. This is even scarier for me, being a college girl around the same age of many of these victims.
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dear retrokimmer & brother, I dearly love that you did this memorial to the poor victims of that sadistic monster,
My father & I were going to do this very thing, but Then I got very badly injured,and couldn't finish our memorial, (there;s next year) fine job thank you for remembering the girls !!!!!
Thank you so much! We felt those girls with us the whole time and we never want to forget what happened to those poor girls.
Kimmer and JR
I was born and raised in A2. I was very young when the murders happened. My mother wouldn't let us out of her sight. One time when I was sitting in my snow fort out on the lawn extension of our home on Brooks street, a man stopped and asked me if I wanted some candy. I froze and could not move. I was afraid to move. But my mother saw him from the window and came bursting out the door with a knife yelling and screaming for him to get away from me. The man took off. I recall talking with a detective who came to our home. When my mother described him to the police they both thought the description resembled JNC. How scary is that. Thanks for remembering these women.
I grew up on Collegewood, just a few blocks from where they found blood in the Uncle's basement. I also went to school with Dawn Basom, the youngest victim - she was a year ahead of me. Collegewood Street was in one of the safest neighborhoods in Ypsi but when the murders started to happen, our little neighborhood felt terrorized. I just re-read the book "Michigan Murders". Such a scarey time that was.
I probably know you as went to Fletcher School at the same time. I am a year younger than Dawn. I think Ypsi felt safe everywhere until that happened and it has never been the same. 40 years later my brother and I were still scared filming on Leforge Rd! email me email@example.com
if you would
Kimmer, great job on this story. I was 11 when these murders started, 13 when Collins was caught. I lived then, as now, in Grand Rapids. Even before Karen Sue Beineman of GR disappeared, these murders were big news here.
I'm mainly writing to let you and your readers know that Edward Keyes' book, "The Michigan Murders", is coming back into print, supposedly in August this year. Don't know what, if any, other changes there may be but 2 Michigan true crime writers are contributing new material: Mardi Link has written an epilogue or afterward, I believe, and Laura James has written a new foreward. It was at James' blog that I found out it was in the works, and I just saw today that Amazon has the book available for pre-order.
The whole thing about the arrest and conviction of Gary Leiterman (not sure if that's right) for Jane Mixer's murder is a crazy story in itself. Ms. Mixer's killing never seemed to fit with the others, so I always doubted that Collins was her killer. But - even though he may very well be guilty - the case against Gary L. was weak, at best. I can't believe the DNA evidence was even allowed to be presented, much less that it helped convict him. I've found it difficult to find much straight-forward reporting about the case, but Crime Library does lay out the shakiness of the evidence (including DNA and handwriting analysis).
Notice NO DEATH DATE just a year
oh if you mean Ms Flezar they didn't have an exact time or date by the time they found her poor thing.
Ok heres my thing im trying to figure out where Iggy and the stooges lived in the farm house out side A2 do you have any insight on this one. ? all i know is Ron in an interveiw exposes the fact that they lived 100 yards or so from where Sue Bessimens body was dumped off Huron River drive . he (Ron Asheton) said it was the 7th victim's body in the interview and he was a suspect due to the fact he was at a party she was at the night before her death and some one saw him . these facts may not be accurate as Ron may have been wrong about it being the 7th body but i don't think so cause he was not a druggie . God rest his soul . Thanks Bullet
Karen Sue was found off Chalmers and Riverside Dr. The fun house was on the peak between Eisenhower Parkway Packard Rd and Stone School Rd a distance I'd say of about 2-4 miles away. Never heard of a Ron connection to this ever.
In 1969....my family had a coney island in Ann Arbor....across from the Michigan theater.....we all remember it well....I read the book and took the same tour....but at that time the old farm house was still standing....my brother and I went there late at night, and we walked the property....when U drive up the short driveway.....when U reach level....that's were the lilac plums were placed together.....one extra flower to indicate there was another death coming soon !
My brother and I, walked down the rickety steps down the basement as it explained in the book....with the cobble stone walls....let me tell you, something came over me it's hard to explain....but I cried uncontrollably...I will never forget that night !
Found your blog and the videos you posted on YouTube of sites relating to the 1967-69 killings. I was growing up in Ann Arbor at the time. My mother worked at Univ Hospital and my dad was friend with our neighbor, Sheriff Doug Harvey. I have a real strong memory of all this, I was 7 in 1967. I remember them looking for those Triumph and Honda bikes and there was a Triumph and sometimes a BMW at an apartment house near us. We used to see these very unusual bikes there. Later we wondered if he was visiting someone on our street. And one time a guy on a bike followed my older sister home to our house on Leona from Maple Village Center. Scared the crap out of her, she was 15 at the time. Thanks for the videos.
I don't know how much more info I have. I know my dad met Harvey when they used to hang out at the Evergreen Tavern on Dexter, across from the little store we called the Milk Depot. I recall a little bit about when he was elected. We lived down on Dexter Ave at the time and moved to Leona in 1966.
In 1967 there was a 4th of July party on my block and I remember that as the first murder, I think, and my mother a couple times came home from work and told us before the news got ahold of it that they''d found another girl and brought her to the morgue. Sje worked in administration for the head of surgery on campus..
My older sister and her friends had a senace one time with our Kreskins ESP game to try to contact the dead girls :-) kid stuff, you remember how it was back then.
I was back in town (I live in California now) three years ago and had tried to locate some of the landmarks from the Michigan Murders book, internet searches etc. Judging from your video I did a pretty good job.
My family used to go on drives out on Joy Road on summer Sundays, and Huron River Drive, and I know my true crime fan mother was out looking around. I do recall once (not at all sure where we were), we stopped because she saw a doll stuck in barbed wire and some other odd stuff like that. I recall reading something about that in the book. It wasn't near a site, I don't think.
thanks so much meester for your comment and insight! xxKIM
My mother actually met John at a party. She tells of a man sitting in a corner, alone, observing, but polite when she met him. Handsome and kind. I thank God at the time she was there with a boyfriend. Who knows if she could of been his next victim. SHIT sorry Mom, but that's F up!!!!
That was really interesting. I can't believe how much time has gone by.
I started my freshman year at Eastern the month after Collins was convicted. I don't remember too much being made on campus of the murders by then, maybe because everyone thought it was "all over" ... and it was bad for school business.
The 60s were a wild time for mass murders what with Manson, Speck and Collins. News traveled a lot slower then and a lot of investigative techniques appear absolutely primitive to us now, especially having been fed a steady diet of CSI Wherever.
I had a teacher that told us about the volunteer escorts during this time. She was escorted by this service by John Norman Collins.
TRUE... Kevin I have heard that same thing from many coeds from that time.... but everyone claims to have had an encounter with JNC and he would have had to be a really busy guy...
I remember being totally freaked out by the Collins murders...the girls all had pierced ears and long hair...of course, one of Tina's and my classmates was carjacked (before it was called that) in Ann Arbor and murdered up in E. Lansing, so peril abounded around campuses, it seemed.
I had a friend who was almost picked up by him on his motorcycle but turned him down thank god. I had a friend who lived in one of the murder victims house later, and I knew the sister of one of the victims. That is how this travesty affected our community. Our parents did not want us to leave the house while this was going on. The Michigan Murders book, scared me so much after he was arrested, I was afraid to go out and get the mail from my mailbox on my country road.
I remember it, even though I was about 15.
I was really freaked out filming this even though it was like 40 years later... the still shots didn't bother me but the video really gave me the creeps... Leforge rd still scares me to even drive on....
I just got a copy of the book. I read it many years ago and i'll refresh when i get done with the books i'm working on now. Thats a chilling story and right in our back yard. My friend sold him scout o ramma tickets..
Just ran across this article. I lived in Ypsilanti when these killings began -- just a few blocks from where JNC lived. My roommates later told me he had been at a party at our apt once. I later moved to A2 & one of the bodies was found on farmland that one of my coworkers owned. One night I saw flashlights outside my little apt bldg just off State St & there were a bunch of cops out there swarming an old house (Apts) where they said someone had just dumped some shoes of one of the murder victims that lived there. This was so close to all of us that lived there at the time. I'll never forget it. My Doctor even served an coroner on a couple of the body recoveries. I later worked at the State Police with a Trooper that worked these murders & he would fill me in on little details that weren't in the book. Yet the girls still hitchhiked Washtenaw Ave between A2 & Ypsi every night - where he did pick up some of his victims.
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