Tuesday, October 8, 2013

John Norman Collins, aka Bill Kenyon - The 8mm Muscleman

My search for reliable information to restore the facts of the Rainy Day Murders has been a Sisyphean task.  

Drawing together what is known about John Norman Collins and the "coed killings" in one place is a huge undertaking but long overdue.

My researcher, Ryan M. Place, and I have invoked the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to obtain documents from the Michigan Department of Corrections, the Michigan State Police, and the Washtenaw County Coroner's Office, with several more government agencies pending.

Despite major gaps in the public records, we have discovered some interesting information by scouring through these boxes of government documents. Among the more surprising finds are some items on an evidence log in the Karen Sue Beineman case folder. 

Somewhere in the Michigan State Police vault in East Lansing, Michigan, there are weightlifting photos of John Norman Collins posing for Tomorrow's Man magazine as Bill Kenyon. He appeared in the September, 1969, issue which came out on newsstands at roughly the same time he was arrested for the first-degree murder of Karen Sue Beineman.

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Tomorrow's Man was a pulp magazine popular in some male circles in the 1950s and 1960s. Under the guise of male physical fitness and weightlifting, the magazine was available on newsstands across the country and was often a young man's first exposure to alternative male lifestyles. Their magazine's motto was "Hunks in Trunks."

This was before gay rights and the lessening of the social stigma against male homosexuality. By the end of the 1960s, American culture underwent a fundamental shift in cultural mores. Tomorrow's Man became obsolete and went out of business. The magazine's back issues are collector's items and very hard to obtain. (See the link below for some of their iconic cover art.)

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My researcher and I have made an additional FOIA request for the photos of JNC posing for Tomorrow's Man magazine.  These items were not used as evidence in the case, and the Michigan State Police has determined that they have no monetary value.
  • two 8x10 black and white stills of Collins posing
  • one 8x10 contact proof sheet with twelve poses
  • one copy of Tomorrow's Man magazine showing Collins posing as Bill Kenyon
  • fourteen color pictures of Collins posing
  • and a must see to believe - twenty-five foot long reel of 8mm film of John Norman Collins striking poses.
Last week, I wrote a Michigan State Police detective who has worked on these cases recently. I asked him to suggest to his commander that the state police consider digitizing the 8mm film stock before it fades to nothing and turns brittle in the can. If Ryan and I are successful in obtaining this film, we will post it on YouTube.

At the very least, we hope to secure some decent scans of photographs to include in a photo bank in the true crime book I'm writing, The Rainy Day Murders. The photograph of Collins above is a photocopy taken from a vintage Detroit Free Press article dated August 30, 1970.

http://www.pulpinternational.com/pulp/entry/Assorted-covers-of-Tomorrows-Man-bodybuilding-magazine.html