Friday, July 13, 2012

Rendezvous with Death - Part One


Death comes in many guises and everyone gives up the ghost eventually. It is our mortality which strikes a common chord in human beings. Natural causes take the greatest share of humanity, armed military conflicts decimate our ranks even further, and chance accidents take their toll on many people. Some unfortunate souls embrace death after the pain of living becomes too much for them to bear, but few would argue that the most difficult kind of death for most people to reconcile is the wanton and senseless murder of the young and innocent.

Full of life one moment - facing down death the next - these victims are not only robbed of their futures, but also of their pasts. The memories of family and friends are forever tainted by their unexpected and violent deaths. They carry the pain and the burden of their loved ones passing for their lifetimes, and their sorrow spills onto future generations. All are punished.

In my efforts to tell the complete story of the Michigan murders (1967-1969) of six young women in the Ypsilanti/Ann Arbor area and a seventh murdered woman in Salinas, California, I have gone beyond what was reported in the newspapers and previously written about these crimes. I have tried to reach out to friends and family of the victims to see if some of the loose ends can be tied up.

By reexamining and drawing together evidence and anecdotal accounts from previously un-interviewed parties, I want to tell the larger story of the person alleged to have killed these young women, John Norman Collins. He was tried and convicted for only one of the murders - the sex slaying of Eastern Michigan University freshman, Karen Sue Beineman, in 1969. Six of the seven other killings remain officially unsolved. Anyone who feels he or she has pertinent information regarding any of the principal figures in this series of murders from the late sixties can contact me confidentially at my gmail address: gregoryafournier@gmail.com.

Needless to say, not everyone is sympathetic with my goal of setting the record straight. I hope to tell as much of this case as possible, given the lack of public information available to me. A Washtenaw County court clerk told me last year that public records prior to 1970 are unavailable. The Ypsilanti City Police revealed to me that they don't keep records prior to 2006. The Michigan State Police have informed me that autopsy and forensic reports are not available because these cases are still considered part of an open police investigation. After forty-five years, I'm glad to know the police are still on the case.

(To be continued...)