Monday, July 25, 2016

Ann Arbor John Norman Collins Film Clip Surfaces

Collins leaving the Washtenaw County Building with Sheriff Douglas Harvey looking on.

Last week, Christy Broderick sent me an exclusive short 8mm film clip taken by her grandfather, Washtenaw County Sheriff's Deputy Charles Broderick, Sr. It depicts John Norman Collins walking across the jail parking lot and being loaded into the back of a jail van in 1970. The two officers escorting Collins in the film clip are Dwayne Troltz and George Rider.

Collins mugging for the cameras.
The journey was a short one across the street to the Washtenaw County Building where testimony was about to begin in the Collins case. Collins swaggers and looks jovial in this brief clip. Perhaps he still thinks he can beat the murder rap.

Also seen in the video is Sheriff Douglas Harvey on crutches hobbling across the parking lot. Harvey was the county official who brought the original charges against Collins on July 31, 1969. Judge John Conlin made Harvey responsible for Collins's safety and security to and from the courtroom. The defense saw this as a conflict of interest issue and portrayed the county sheriff as the villain.

Ironically, Sheriff Harvey recently had crashed his new Harley into the back of a semi-truck on Interstate 94. Harvey appeared in court wearing a hip-to-toe plaster cast and testified from a wheelchair. Collins's attorneys Joseph Louisell and Neil Fink could not get the sheriff off the stand quickly enough. They didn't want the jury to feel sympathy for him.

Super 8 Bell & Howell projector.
I want to thank Christy for giving me permission to share this exclusive and historic 8mm film clip on my blog before the images fade away completely. Christy has agreed to have a proper digital copy made for posterity. I hope to upgrade the present link with the improved digital copy.

Christy's grandfather found the reel of Super 8 [8mm] home movie film hidden in a box at home. He told Christy about the film, so they projected it on the wall. She recorded the flickering image on her cell phone and sent it to me. Notice the clicking of the sprockets on the projector.

One minute, thirteen second film clip of Collins and Harvey walking across the Washtenaw County Jail parking lot from 1970:  https://youtu.be/8pohfGroiKo

Terror in Ypsilanti: John Norman Collins Unmasked. Check out my website: gregoryafournier.com

Monday, July 18, 2016

Terror in Ypsilanti: John Norman Collins Unmasked Book Talk Announcements

John Norman Collins
Terror in Ypsilanti: John Norman Collins Unmasked [TIY] is in its final stages and will be available from the printer in the next few weeks. I want to thank those people who have ordered autographed copies from my website http://gregoryafournier.com. Because the book runs about 460 pages, the index is taking longer to compile than my publisher expected.

In anticipation of my first shipment of books, I ran off the shipping labels to stay ahead of the game without realizing that the USPS sends out Your package has shipped notices. Expect shipment in early August. Thank you for your patience and my apologies for any confusion. 

Everything else is running smoothly. Copies will be available sometime in August on Amazon.com and in a Kindle ebook edition. The Eastern Michigan University bookstore plans to carry TIY for its fall semester.


St. Cece's Pub in Corktown.
So far, I have scheduled three book talks and signings for the end of September in Michigan--one in Detroit and two in Ypsilanti.

My first presentation is sponsored by the Book Club of Detroit on Saturday, September 24th at St. Cece's Pub located at 1426 Bagley Ave. in an area known to Detroiters as Corktown. Food and drink can be purchased at the bar and brought downstairs where I'll be talking between 6 and 8 pm. Because alcohol is served, participants must be 21 or older.



On Tuesday, September 27th from 5 until 7 pm, I'll be speaking at the Corner Brewery at 720 Norris Street in Ypsilanti. Attendees must be 21 or older. I.D.s are checked at the door. Light snacks will be available and liquid refreshments can be purchased at the bar.

The focus of this presentation will be the impact these seven murders had on Eastern Michigan University--on and off campus. Three of the seven victims were EMU coeds, and the prime suspect was an EMU student who police believed was responsible for most if not all of the killings. The person credited with linking Collins to the Karen Sue Beineman sex slaying was an EMU graduate and rookie campus policeman.

On a side note, John Norman Collins worked at Motor Wheel Corporation with Andrew Manuel, his partner in petty and grand larceny. What was once the administrative building of Motor Wheel now houses the Corner Brewery across from the old factory.


State of the art Ypsilanti District Library--main branch.
My final talk is scheduled for Thursday, September 29th from 6 until 8 pm. at the Ypsilanti District Library located at 5577 Whittaker Road, south of I-94. My focus for this talk is the impact the Washtenaw County murders had on Ypsilanti and the region. There is no age limit for this presentation, but parental discretion is advised because of the violent and graphic nature of these crimes.

Signed copies of TIY will be available for purchase at each of these events. Hope to see many of you at one of these venues.

Links to:

St. Cece's [http://stcece.com]

The Corner Brewery [http://www.arborbrewing.com/locations/corner-brewery/]

Ypsilanti District Library [http://tln.lib.mi.us/md/ypsi/]

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Remembering My Kid Brother--Rick J. Fournier

Rick's graduation photo--1968
People in Allen Park, Michigan have asked me about my brother Rick. We grew up in Dearborn Township in the 1950s before the streets were paved and the sewer lines were put in. My father built our house with his friends on the weekends. When my mom and dad had two more sons, we moved into a slightly larger home less than five miles away in Allen Park. That was 1963. My parents bought a bar on Allen Road called the Cork & Bottle--now the Wheat & Rye.

Rick graduated from APHS in 1968 through the sheer will and determination of our mother. Rick played the guitar and had no interest in earning a high school diploma. Once he graduated by the skin of his teeth, he hung around never getting a job or any job training. To avoid the Army draft, my parents pushed him into enlisting in the Air Force. Several months after basic training, he went to Okinawa but was given a general discharge. He wouldn't take or follow orders and was insubordinate to his commanding officer.

From there, Rick drifted into psychedelics and became a transient in the college towns of Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti. My brother wandering aimlessly during an LSD trip in 1970 was taken into custody by the Ypsilanti police one brutal winter night . The police didn't know what to do with him, so they called my parents. My parents didn't now what to do with him, so they called Wayne County Mental Health [Eloise]. Rick was locked in a  mental ward for over a year before he was released with a diagnosis of schizophrenia. I don't know what they did to him, but he was never the same. From there, things went from bad to worse. No need to describe his further descent.

Last known photo of Rick from the 1980s.
Rick died in Silverthorn, Colorado, on November 17th, 1994 at the age of forty-four. He died of a massive heart attack while walking down the street. Because he wasn't carrying any identification, it took over a week before authorities were able to identify him.

Rick's obit listed him as an artist and photographer to mask the reality of his sad life. People tried but nobody was able to help him.

Happy trails, my brother.

Monday, June 27, 2016

GREGORYAFOURNIER.COM Author Website Running

Photo: Nicole Fribourg
Spring 2016 was busy for me. I completed Terror in Ypsilanti: John Norman Collins Unmasked (TIY) and re-edited Zug Island: A Detroit Riot Novel for a revised 2nd edition commemorating fifty years since the civil unrest of July 23, 1967.

As if that was not enough, I also earned my cyberpunk badge learning to build and maintain my new author website. Starting today, I am open for business.

Terror in Ypsilanti will go to print in mid-July. Advanced copies are available at gregoryafournier.com. Expect four to six weeks for delivery until books are in the pipeline. All orders must be within the delivery reach of the United States Postal Service.

The final page count for TIY will come near 480 pages including a map commissioned for the book, several reader supplements, a photo gallery, and a subject index. I have not been told the final price point, but I have seen an Author Review Copy of the book and am pleased with the end result. I'm certain the book version won't be listed under $24.95 because of its length and quality.

I am direct marketing TIY on my website for $20 plus $4 postage and handling. An e-book Kindle edition will be available on Amazon.com in the near future as well as the paperback edition. Discounted bulk and library copies will be available soon from my publisher Wheatmark.com. They honor a one-year return policy to vendors for unsold books.


The publishing business is notoriously slow.
In January 2016 at the San Diego State University Writer's Conference, I met literary agent Chip MacGregor. After reading my manuscript, he was interested in representing my book. 

MacGregor was optimistic he could place the book with a traditional publisher but warned it would take two years to see TIY in print. Waiting two more years was unacceptable.

When he told me I would lose creative control beyond the manuscript, I decided to independently publish through Wheatmark. I did not want to see my vision for the book corrupted. By independently publishing, I made all the decisions. My researcher Ryan M. Place in Detroit and I have worked too long and hard to make compromises and cede creative control to a publishing house concerned primarily with the bottom line. 

Building an audience and keeping readers interested is not open-ended. Five years is a long time to ask readers to wait. Several key people who helped me tell this story have died and others anxiously await the book's release. I wrote the best account I could with what I had to work with. Now, it is time for the book to find its audience.

--My author website link: http://gregoryafournier.com

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Eastern Michigan University Student Queried - "Is Paul (McCartney) Dead?"

The biggest hoax in the history of Rock & Roll is surely the "Is Paul Dead?" controversy. On Sunday afternoon, October 12, 1969, Thomas Zarski, an Eastern Michigan University student, called [Uncle Russ] Gibb, a concert promoter and popular D.J. for Detroit's underground music radio station - WKNR-FM.

On the air, Zarski asked Gibb what he knew about the death of Paul McCartney. This was the first the D.J. heard of it. "Have you ever played "Revolution 9" from the The White Album backwards?" Zarski asked.

Gibb hadn't. Skeptical, he humored his call-in listener and played the song backwards. For the first time his audience heard, "Turn me on, dead man." Then WKNR's phone started ringing off the hook.

Apparently, the rumor started when Tim Harper wrote an article on September 17, 1969 in the Drake University (Iowa) newspaper. The story circulated by word of mouth through the counter culture underground for a month until Zarski caught wind of it. He called Uncle Russ asking about it. Gibb had solid connections with the local Detroit and British rock scene because he was a concert promoter at the Grande Ballroom--Detroit's rock Mecca.

University of Michigan student Fred LaBour heard the October 12th radio broadcast and published an article two days later in the October 14th edition of The Michigan Daily as a record review parody of the Beatles' latest album Abbey Road. This article was credited for giving the story legs and was the key exposure that propelled the hoax nationally and internationally.

The legend goes that Paul died in November of 1966 in a car crash. The three categories of clues were:
  1. Clues found on the album covers and liner sleeve notes,
  2. Clues found playing the records forward, and
  3. Clues found playing the records backwards.
The clues came from the albums:
  1. Yesterday and Today,
  2. Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band,
  3. Magical Mystery Tour,
  4. The Beatles [the White Album], and
  5. Abbey Road.
Some people thought the Beatles masterminded the hoax because of the large number of clues. They thought there were too many for this story to be merely coincidental. 

The story peaked in America on November 7th, 1969, when Life magazine ran an interview with Paul McCartney at his farm in Scotland, debunking the myth.

For more detailed information on the myth and the clues, check out these links: 

http://turnmeondeadman.com/the-paul-is-dead-rumor/ 

http://keenerpodcast.com/?page_id=602

Video link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xqBf6iNPVOg

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Ypsilanti, Michigan History - What's in a Name?



Dimitrios Ypsilantis
Where the Sauk Native American trail crossed the narrows at a bend of the Huron River, Gabriel Godfroy--a French-Canadian fur trader from Montreal--established his Indian trading post in 1809. Fifteen years later, Judge Augustus B. Woodward of Detroit with two local land speculators--William Harwood and John Stewart--laid-out a town on land they purchased from the original French settlers.

Judge Woodward was a Grecophile who wanted to name the town in honor of Greek war hero Demetrius Ypsilanti--a general famous for successes in his country's war for independence against the Ottoman Turks. This struck a chord with Woodward. America had waged its own war for independence against the British not so very long before.


Ypsilanti Woolen Company

His partners had a different idea with more commercial potential. They favored a name like Waterford or Waterville which highlighted the water-power feature of the Huron River to attract manufacturing business. Judge Woodward--being the major investor in the land project--had the final word. In 1824, the new town of Ypsilanti spanned both sides of the Huron River on the old Chicago Road (soon to be renamed Michigan Avenue). An area which began as a frontier trading outpost eventually became downtown Ypsilanti.

The east side of Ypsilanti developed when the Michigan Central train line began rail service in 1838, making the city an important economic hub for the area’s growing light-industry and agricultural concerns. A lovely, three-story train depot said to be the nicest depot between Detroit and Chicago was built in 1864. A two block long commercial district grew up along both sides of East Cross Street—aptly named Depot Town.

Original Ypsilanti train depot with landscaping.
The Depot Town businesses on the ground floors catered to the needs of weary travelers and light manufacturing. The upper floors were used for lodging, warehousing, or residential use. Depot Town was a destination for the Underground Railroad before and throughout the Civil War. Soldiers of the 14th and 17th Michigan Regiments left for the South from the Ypsilanti train station platform.

Depot Town Today
A fire destroyed the tower and the upper floors of the depot in May of 1910. New owners--Pennsylvania Central Railroad--decided to rebuild only the ground floor. Amtrak ended passenger service in 1982.

There may be some life in the old girl yet. Depot Town could be a stop on the proposed Ann Arbor to Detroit commuter rail line which would bring more activity into the area. Restoring the Depot Town train buildings preserves a remnant of Ypsilanti's history which could be re-purposed on the interior to increase the commercial value of the property.

I can envision a fine dining, Victorian-styled restaurant. Maybe a seafood restaurant. How about a sushi bar or an Asian noodle shop? Something that doesn't take business away from Frenchie's Sidetrack Bar & Grill or Aubrey's Pizzeria & Grill. Ypsilanti's very own Gandy Dancer or something similar would be nice.
http://visitypsinow.com/museums/ 

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Vidocq Society - A Private Crime Fighting Organization

Union League Building in Philadelphia - Vidocq Society Meeting Place.
While doing research for Terror in Ypsilanti: John Norman Collins Unmasked, I came across an interesting organization of forensic investigators called the Vidocq Society. This is a non-profit organization of dedicated crime fighting professionals who are known to law enforcement agencies but generally unknown to the public.

The Vidocq Society views themselves as "crime solution catalysts who operate outside the limelight." The group is dedicated to the service of society and shuns publicity. Any case or crime details released to the press are handled by the referring crime enforcement agency and not the society.  They prefer to work in the background. Their credo is "Veritas Veritatum" [The Truth of Truths].

The Vidocq Society is a highly regarded organization with closed membership rolls. The privilege to wear the society's unique red, white, and blue rosette has been bestowed on fewer than one hundred and fifty men and women. When a position opens up, potential new members must be sponsored by existing members. Seasoned investigators with verifiable skills often volunteer their forensic skills before being elected to Vidocq Society membership.

The group was co-founded in 1990 by Richard D. Walter [forensic psychologist], Frank Bender [forensic sculpture], and William Fleisher [FBI/U.S. Customs Special Agent] in Philadelphia at the Olde City Tavern in the Down Town Club. The society currently meets every third Thursday of the month at the Union League of Philadelphia.

At the Society's monthly meetings, they dissect the evidence under review hoping to rekindle or refocus the investigation. Unsolved cases are brought to their attention by some police investigating agency or a family member of the victim of an unsolved death or homicide. The Society serves in the background at the pleasure and direction of law enforcement.


Eugene Francois Vidocq
The Vidocq Society is named after Eugene Francois Vidocq, who in the Eighteenth Century was a crook turned cop. He is considered the father of modern criminal investigation. Vidocq was named the first chief of the Surete, founded in 1812. The Surete was originally the criminal investigative bureau of the Paris Police, but in 1966 it became the National Police Force of France. The Surete was the inspiration for the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the United States and Scotland Yard in London. It is considered the pioneer of all crime fighting organizations in the world.


First Edition Cover
Eugene Francois Vidocq knew author Victor Hugo. In Hugo's novel Les Miserables, Hugo modeled both of his primary characters, Jean Valjean and Inspector Javert, after Monsieur Vidocq. Edgar Allen Poe based Inspector C. Auguste Dupin in The Murders in the Rue Morgue on Vidocq also. Hermann Melville mentioned him in Moby Dick, as did Charles Dickens in Great Expectations. These authors were all inspired by Vidocq's real life exploits which contributed to his legendary crime solving reputation.

Among other things, Vidocq introduced to the Surete a card-index record system cross-referencing criminals and their crimes. He also pioneered the use of undercover surveillance, disguises, informants, and plainclothesmen. Vidocq was an innovator who applied the new science of criminology to police work. When he retired from the Surete, he opened the first private investigation agency and the first credit reporting bureau. Every private-eye in real life or in fiction owes Monsieur Vidocq a debt of gratitude.