Wednesday, June 5, 2013

John Norman Collins Canadian Prison Gambit Exposed


Acting on his own behalf, John Norman Chapman applied for and received the necessary transfer documents from the Canadian Consulate and applied for his Canadian prison transfer. 

On August 7, 1981, the Marquette Prison warden, T.H. Koehler, wrote the Deputy Director of the Michigan Department of Corrections Robert Brown, Jr. saying that he had "checked the qualifications for transfer to foreign countries and believe that this resident (John Norman Chapman) meets the necessary qualifications at this time." 

The warden must have felt relieved that he was getting rid of a hot potato. He was quoted as saying that Collins was the only prisoner in his lockup who had a book written about him that's for sale in the prison store.

After approval by the Marquette Prison Classification Committee, newly christened Prisoner Chapman was transported to Jackson Prison by prison shuttle on Tuesday, December 29, 1981, to await a verification hearing on his transfer to be held on January 11, 1982, at the United States District Court in Detroit.

Attorney Miriam Seifer was appointed by the court to represent  John Chapman at a Canadian transfer hearing. She was an undergraduate at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor when John Collins was originally arrested in 1969. How odd that must have been for her.

Much to John Chapman's dismay, Ottawa (i.e. the Canadian government) had not completed the formal paperwork for the January 29th scheduled transfer date, so the hearing was postponed. John Norman Chapman was only one signature away from being transferred to a Canadian Prison, but he was so close, he could wait a little longer. Time was on his side now.

Meanwhile, on the morning of January 14, 1982, a letter addressed the Detroit Free Press city desk editor - William Hart - landed on his desk. It was from a prison inmate who had written to him before about prison reform.

Although all the information contained in the letter was not strictly accurate, the information did get the desk editor's attention. 

It said that Collins had been released to Canadian authorities two weeks before (Collins was actually waiting in Jackson Prison), Collins planned to use a different name once in Canada, and he would be eligible for parole in two years with time served. 

The prison informant added that this happened "with dollars being spread in the right areas." The letter ended with, "I would normally not pass information like this out, but if he's guilty of butchering young girls, then he's not the safest kind of a dude to be put where he could repeat."

Detroit Free Press editor Hart assigned reporter Marianne Rzepka to investigate the story. She found and interviewed Miriam Seifer, the court appointed attorney handling the case. That evening, Rzepka's story "Transfer to Canada for Killer" was the front page headline.

A Detroit Associated Press reporter picked up several early copies of the paper and returned quickly to his office. The story was immediately sent out on their news wire service to thirty-three newspapers and eighty-five radio and television stations across Michigan. By Friday, January 15, the story was reported throughout every corner of the state.

When the parents of slain Karen Sue Beineman read the story, they called William Delhey, Washtenaw County chief prosecutor for the Collins' case, and they went on their own media blitz. 

Less than a week after Marianne Rzepka's article appeared, Michigan Department of Corrections Deputy Director, Robert Brown, Jr.,  revoked approval of the Collins' transfer.

In a letter dated January 20, 1982, Brown denied the transfer on the grounds that John was raised primarily in the United States and had minimal contact with Canadian relatives. It was with regret that he had to inform Chapman that "I am revoking our consideration of your request. I am sorry I could not give you are more favorable reply. Sincerely, MDOC."

When Mrs. Loretta Collins heard that her son's transfer had been rescinded, she told the press, "It's politics, dirty politics. John's hopes were raised; he was moved. Then, they slammed the door in his face. It's inhuman." Many Michigan mothers would disagree.

John Norman Collins took a toss of the dice and they came up snake eyes. Every craps player knows what that means. Instant loser!