This show, “Michigan and other Mayhem”, is a sort of factual, slightly comical, always earnest podcast about interesting stuff in Michigan and around the world. It is done by two sisters-in-law (Ali and Jenn) that like to talk about random interesting stories. Expect cults, mysteries, murder, fast talking, and a couple of mental palate cleansers… and cuss words. Those happen on this show, a lot.
- Pretend podcast music because Jenn likes it.
- Ali has a weird laugh. It is often loud.
John Norman Collins
In the late 1960’s, in southeast Michigan, there was a serial killer who would be given the names of the “Michigan Murderer”, the “Co-ed Killer” and the “Ypsilanti Ripper”. John Norman Collins killed six women in the Ypsilanti/Ann Arbor area from 1967 to 1969 and killed one girl in California while on vacation. His methods for murder included stabbing, strangling, beating, and shooting. Jane Mixer was originally considered one of John’s victims, but Gary Leiterman was later convicted for her murder.
Mary Terese Fleszar, 1st known victim
Mary Fleszar, who was 19 years old, was the first victim of the “Co-ed Killer”. Mary was about 5’2”, weighed around 110 pounds, had brown hair and wore glasses. Mary, who was an Eastern Michigan University student, was seen alive on July 9, 1967, by a neighbor. She had been walking to her apartment in Ypsilanti, Michigan. The next day Mary’s roommate called the police who were initially unconcerned. However, once they realized that it was out of character for Mary and that all her belongings were still in the apartment, they began looking for her
Their only lead was the neighbor who saw Mary walking home. The neighbor told police that as Mary was walking a man in a blue-gray Chevrolet approached her twice, trying to talk to her from the car. Each time, Mary shook her head no and walked away from the car. Mary was last seen wearing a bright orange dress with white polka dots and wearing sandals.
Mary’s dead body was found on August 7, 1967 on a farm near Geddes and LaForge Roads. Two 15-year-old boys discovered her after they heard a car door slam and a car drive away. She was found lying in the weeds, nude. Mary had been stabbed between 30 and 40 times in her chest and abdomen. She had been beaten severely. Mary’s killer had cut off both her feet, portions of one of her hands, and part of one arm. Mary’s severed body parts had never been recovered.
Evidence at the scene shows that Mary’s killer moved her body at least three different times after murdering her. Being left in the elements for a month, Mary’s body was badly decomposed. Clothing that was identified as hers was found covered in a pile of debris.
Two days after Mary was identified a young man came to the Moore Funeral Home and asked to take pictures of her body. His explanation was that the family had asked him to do it as a keepsake photograph. The employees at the funeral home refused him entry and he left the premises. The secretary at the funeral home noticed that the man drove a blue-gray Chevrolet. Later, none of the employees recalled him carrying a camera. Mary’s family did not request a photograph. Funeral home workers couldn’t give a good description of him.
Joan Elspeth Schell, 2nd known victim
Joan Schell was 20 years old when she was abducted on July 1, 1968, one year after Mary’s death. Joan had grown up in Plymouth, a nearby city, and had just moved to Ypsilanti to become an art student at EMU. Joan had last been seen hitchhiking to Ann Arbor by her roommate, after Joan missed the bus. There were three men in the car, with the last person she had been seen with was John Norman Collins, who was a student failing out of Eastern Michigan University.
John’s friends had gotten out of the car at a different location than John and Joan. John had said that he left Joan in a parking lot after she refused his sexual advances. Another link between the two is John had been recently kicked out of his fraternity and lived across the street from Joan. When the police questioned John, he provided his mother, who lived in Detroit, as an alibi.
Her body was found five days later in nearby Ann Arbor by construction workers on the site. Joan had been stabbed 47 times and raped. The medical examiner determined that she had been dead for five days, but her body was dumped at that location within 24 hours. The lower portion of her body was well preserved, but the upper portion was dark and leathery as if it had been exposed to the elements. Her body had been covered in clumps of grass in a weak effort to conceal her. She had clothing up around her neck.
The wounds on Joan’s body were similar enough that her death was connected to that of Mary Fleszar. Four detectives were then assigned to the case.
Maralynn Skelton, 3rd known victim
Maralynn Skelton was 16 years old when she was found murdered March 25, 1969. She had been missing for about two days, without being reported to the police, due to a strained relationship with her family. Maralynn had attended Romulus High School before dropping out. Maralynn was known to run with a rough crowd and had a history of drug use and dealing. She had last been seen on Washtenaw Avenue, hitchhiking.
Maralynn’s body was discovered a couple hundred yards from the site in which Joan Schell had been found. Her death was much more savage in its execution than the other two. Maralynn had been covered in welts, having been whipped with a leather strap. There were multiple fractures on the right side of her face and skull, which were crush injuries from a blunt object. Maralynn’s shirt had been shoved so far into her mouth that pieces were found in her trachea. Marks across her upper torso show that she was restrained at some point. A branch from a nearby tree had been inserted into her vagina. Maralynn had a garter belt tied around her neck. Blood splatter at the scene show that her death likely occurred there.
Maralynn’s death was connected to the serial killer now being called the Michigan Murderer and a task force was created. The connection came from the location of the body and material being tied around her neck. Some people speculated that the killing was due to a drug issue.
Dawn Basom, 4th known victim
The weeks later, on April 15, 1969 around 7:30 p.m., Dawn Basom, who was 13 years old, left a friend’s house to walk home which was less than a mile away. Another friend accompanied her most of the way, leaving her to walk the last five blocks alone.
Dawn’s dead body was found the next morning at 6:30 a.m. on the side of the road in Ypsilanti, not far from where Mary Skelton was found. Dawn had been strangled with an electrical cord, stabbed, and her body had been left partially disrobed. She was still wearing her white bra and her shirt was pushed up around her neck. There were slash wounds on her breast and buttocks. A handkerchief was stuffed in her mouth.
Side Note: I read articles that said Dawn had been raped and some that said she wasn’t. I’m unsure of the truth.
One of Dawn’s shoes was found about 50 yards away from her body, with the other being found on the opposite side of the road in a ditch. The sweater she had been wearing was found in an abandoned farmhouse nearby. In the basement of the farmhouse police were able to find more of the electrical cord that had been used to murder Dawn. The blood at the scene was fresh leading police to believe they found their first kill site and not just a site to dump bodies.
Continuing to look through the farmhouse, a week later police found a gold earring that they believed belonged to Maralynn Skelton, the third known victim. Authorities also found a new piece of Dawn’s shirt in the home. Due to all of the time they had spent inspecting the home, the police believed with certainty that those items had not been there previously and must have been brought to the home by the killer recently. After the discovery of the new items, the house burned down, May 13, 1969.
As a student in the eighth grade, Dawn was the youngest victim.
This may be legend: When authorities arrived at the scene of the fire, they found five lilac blossoms laying on the ground. They believed it was a message from the killer. However, as we concluded earlier, Jane Mixer was not one of his victims, so there wouldn’t be five blossoms. Either the lilacs never happened, or someone messed up the number, or he killed someone we don’t know about.
Alice Elizabeth Kalom, 5th known victim
Alice Kalom was 21 years old and from Portage, Michigan. Alice was enrolled in the fine arts program at University of Michigan. Three weeks after Dawn’s death, June 7/8, 1969, Alice went to a party and was last seen walking home. The following day three teenage boys walking by North Territorial road found her body.
Alice had been stabbed, raped, as well as shot once in the head. Her clothes were scattered in the area and Alice’s shoes were missing. The day after her body was found, clues to her murder site here also discovered. In a Northfield Township construction site, workers found dried blood stains and two buttons for Alice’s coat, making it the most likely location of her murder.
Karen Sue Beineman, 6th known victim
Karen Beineman was 18 years old and a student at Eastern Michigan University. Her roommate Sherri Green reported her missing when she did not return to her dorm room for curfew. Karen was last seen at a wig shop on July 23, 1969. At the shop Karen told a clerk and the store manager, “I’ve got to be either the bravest or the dumbest girl alive because I’ve just accepted a ride from some guy.” This prompted the manager and another employee to look out the window, giving her a good look at the young man sitting on a motorcycle outside of the shop.
Three days later Karen’s body was found naked and face down in a gully (a ravine made by water flow). Karen had been beaten severely, with portions of her skin being lacerated. She had extensive skull and brain injuries from a blunt object. Karen had been forced to ingest a caustic substance that was also used to burn her neck, shoulders, and breasts. Cloth had been driven into her throat and her panties had been stuffed into her vagina. Karen’s cause of death was listed as strangulation. Police were able to find short, little hairs on her person.
The police had unsuccessfully tried twice before to create a media blackout surround the discovery of the bodies, but with the discovery of Karen was successfully suppressed. They placed a mannequin in the gully to entice the killer back, knowing that returning to the scene was part of his procedure. The following morning, during a heavy rainstorm, the officer staking out the scene saw a young man running from the gully. The officer had not been able to see the man approach the gully and the rain had shorted out his radio. The young man was able to get away.
Two days after Karen’s body was found, there was a crack in the case. When the police retraced Karen’s steps, the two women working at the wig shop remembered her and the man they saw her drive off with, the last day she was alive. They were able to identify John Collins in a photograph. John refused to take a polygraph test and the police didn’t have enough evidence to bring him in.
The next day, John’s roommate, Arnold Davis, told police that he had opened their apartment door for John to leave and John was carrying a box that was partially covered by a blanket. What Arnold could see was a purple shoe, rolled-up material that looked like jeans, and a burlap purse. John told Arnold he was getting rid of the stuff in the box.
John had detailed knowledge of the deaths and like to tell his coworkers about each woman’s injury. When questioned, he told them that his uncle, Sheriff David Leik had given him the information. His uncle, David, had recently been on vacation with his family, leaving John to dog sit at their home. When the Leik family came back, Sandra, David’s wife, noticed spots on the basement floor were covered in paint. Sandra also noticed that items from the basement were missing like a bottle of ammonia, laundry powder, and black paint.
The day they came back, police told David Leik of his nephew’s status as a suspected serial killer. The next morning David scraped up some of the paint on the basement floor, revealing what looked like bloodstains. He immediately went to the station and told them what he found. The Leik basement was then gone over with a fine-toothed comb.
Stains on the floor were determined to be varnish however there were some blood and tissue samples found behind the washing machine. While inspecting the basement, investigators found a multitude of little short hairs. Sheriff Leik explained that his wife would cut his children’s hair in the basement and had done so before leaving for vacation. The hairs found on Karen Beineman’s person were inspected against those found in the basement. A neutron analysis revealed it was from the same individuals.
John had a court appointed attorney named Richard Ryan. At Richard’s request, John did submit to taking a polygraph test with the results remaining confidential. After the polygraph, Richard Ryan suggested using diminished capacity as part of an insanity defense. John Collins’ mom was incensed, her son was a high school honors student who was attending Eastern Michigan University to become a teacher. She fired Ryan Richards, remortgaged her home, and hired a law firm from Detroit.
During his trial, John did not speak for his own defense. He was only on trial for the death of Karen Beineman, as there wasn’t enough evidence to connect him to the other murders. There was proof that he often lived, worked, or frequented the areas where the women were also at, but the evidence is circumstantial. While in the courtroom, it was proven that John had asked his roommate, Arnold, to provide him with a false alibi for the time that Karen was killed. The blood and tissue samples were matched to Karen.
The jury spent 27 hours over three days deliberating the evidence from the trial. When the guilty verdict was announced, John’s mom and sister left the courtroom in tears. Throughout the years, John has appealed his case repeatedly, being denied each time.
Although John was not charged with the other crimes committed by the Co-Ed killer, there were links to him and the other women. Karen Fleszar, the first known victim, and John worked across the hall from each other at EMU and when police searched his room, a necklace that Karen was known to wear was found in his dresser.
Joan Schell, the second known victim, was last seen with John. She had accepted a ride from a car with three men in it. Two of them were John and his roommate, Arnold. Arnold claimed that after he got out of the car, John was alone with Joan. Three hours later, John came back to their apartment, telling Arnold he had dropped Joan off. John referred to Joan as a bitch and told Arnold she had rejected his advances. John was carrying a red handbag that he had said Joan had left in the car. John’s mom had provided an alibi for the time of the murder, but according to Arnold, that was untrue.
Arnold also connected John to Alice Kalom, the fifth known victim. He said that he had heard John and Alice arguing the night she disappeared, with John chasing Alice after she ran from the apartment. When John returned later, he asked Arnold to hide a knife for him. When Arnold handed the knife over, investigators determined the knife was consistent with the wounds found on Alice’s body. The purple shoe that Arnold saw in the box that John was carrying, matched a pair that Alice owned. In recent years, DNA on Alice was matched to John.
Roxie Ann Phillips, 7th known victim
John Collins spent some time in California, from June 21, 1969 until about the second week of July. He was traveling with another roommate named Andrew Manuel. The two of them drove there in John’s Oldsmobile Cutlass, towing a camper. They had rented the camper using false names and a stolen check.
Roxie Phillips was 17 years old at the time of her murder. Friends introduced her to a man named John from Michigan. John said he was an Eastern Michigan University student who was studying to be a teacher. Nancy Albrecht, one of Roxie’s friends, met John and described him to detectives with the description matching that of John Norman Collins.
Roxie’s body was found nude and battered in a ravine that was rife with poison oak on July 13, 1969. The belt to her dress was knotted around her neck and Roxie had been strangled to death. She was missing one earring. Roxie’s personal possessions were found scattered down State Route 68 in California.
John had returned to Michigan around the same time, without the camper or Andrew. Andrew was later found in Arizona and the camper was found behind Andrew’s grandfather’s house. According to Andrew’s grandfather, the two men lived in the camper briefly. When police checked the camper for evidence, it was completely wiped of prints. Police were able to find medical records of John being treated for a severe allergic reaction to poison oak in California the day after Roxie’s murder.
After Michigan police arrested John and went through his home, a piece of red and white belt that matched the one found around Roxy’s neck was found in John’s belongings. A sweater that was found in John’s closet had 22 pubic hairs on it. Roxie’s body was exhumed and when the found hairs were compared to those on her body, they were found to be a match.
California originally applied to extradite John Norman Collins to California, so that he could stand trial for Roxie’s murder. However, after John was found guilty in Michigan, they waived their right. Michigan law states those who are found guilty of first-degree murder will remain in prison without the possibility of parole.
An article in the Detroit Free Press that came out in November of 2019 said there were DNA samples from two more of the victims that have yet to be tested. Joan Schell and Maralynn Skelton had DNA left on them during their rape and murder. Detectives recently had lengthy interviews with John, to see if time had changed his mind on his willingness to talk. Retired Sargent Jim Bundshuh (bun-shoe) has interviewed John at least three times. John recently admitted that he had met Alice Kalom shortly before she was murdered and that they dated. Previously, he denied knowing her at all.
John had written letters to one of his cousins in Canada in 2013 that is named John Chapman. John Norman Collins was originally born in Canada. After his parents divorced, John’s mom, who was an America, moved back to the States with her children. John was hoping to convince his cousin of his innocence, a part in John’s desire to move to a Canadian prison. At one point the move was considered, but later rejected by the Canadian government.
John’s letters reveal a man who is domineering, is angry at his mom, and is misogynistic. John blamed his mom for him not having a relationship with his dad and what he felt like was rejection from her. In a letter to his cousin, John Collins said that he told his mother the “WHOLE STORY” which John typed in all caps. After her last visit to her son, John’s mom wrote him out of the will and suggested that John get nothing. In the letters, John blames his roommate Arnold Davis for the death of Karen Beineman.
In July, August, and November of 2019, the Detroit Free Press emailed John Normal Collins. They also asked a son of one of his former attorneys, Frank, to write him. John did respond to Frank with an email which can be read by following the Detroit Free Press link below. It’s interesting but filled with denials.
Side Note: On Michigan’s OTIS website, it has information that includes his nicknames which are Waterhead and John Chapman. Chapman is the name of John’s biological father, and his new legal name, which is the same the same name as the Canadian cousin he wrote letters to. John currently lives in Marquette Branch Prison.
The Death of Addison Redman of Ithaca Michigan
On August 20, 2019, during the morning hours in Arcada township, Addison, age 11, was found by a relative or sibling. There were conflicting stories, some articles said relative, some said it was her brother. It was reported this relative, or brother, called Addison’s father, who then called the police.
Addison had been home alone that night.
The police gathered evidence, called it a homicide and had one person of interest. The police stated there was no danger to the community. Jenn couldn’t find any reports on what the police believed happened, nor who was the person of interest. She couldn’t find any information that was newer than August 28, 2019.
What we know is:
- Addison was home alone.
- The gun used to kill her was not found.
- The autopsy did confirm that it was homicide.
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