The crime of rape is a soul-wrenching experience for anyone to endure. As society has become increasingly open with discussing this issue, more and more children of rape are opting to discover their birth mothers and family histories. If any human experience is bittersweet, this is it.
Today, there are organizations and support groups for adult children of rape to reconnect with their birth mothers. The stigma in our society against these innocent offspring still exists, but increasing public exposure of successful reunions is making it easier for more people to come forward.
In 2011, I was contacted by a woman who has asked that her name not be revealed. She was a child of a rape in 1968 and located her birth mother only several years ago. She has since established a loving, healthy relationship with her. Upon inquiring about her birth father though, her mother was uncomfortable and evasive when it came to revealing who he was. After some hemming and hawing, the mom admitted that she knew who the father was, that he was still alive, but that he was unavailable for a meeting.
On a hunch, she asked if her father was in prison. "Yes," was the answer. Reluctantly, her mother told her that she believed her father to be John Norman Collins. When Collins was arrested in 1969 and his picture was in all the papers, she thought she recognized him as the man who raped her.
Only two months ago, I received another gmail from a woman who now lives on the East Coast. After reading some of my Collins blog posts, she decided to contact me believing that her father may be John Norman Collins. This woman searched for and discovered her birth mother and has since established a relationship with her.
And of course, this woman also wanted to know who her birth father was. Whenever she inquired about him, her mother refused to tell her his name because she was still scared of him. Then her daughter found a copy of The Michigan Murders in her mother's house and read it. When she asked her mother about it, her mother looked quite upset. That was her daughter's first inkling that JNC could be her birth father, despite the antagonist's name being changed to John Armstrong in the novel.
I gmailed her back and asked if we could speak on the phone so I could report on what I knew. When I told her that she was the second person to contact me about JNC's possible paternity, she livened up. I told her the background of my efforts to contact Collins and his siblings to see if we could arrange for a paternity test to show kinship. They were unresponsive. I was told by the Michigan Department of Corrections that there is a statute of limitations for rape and we would need a court order to get a DNA sample from Collins.
John Norman Collins has often said that he loves children and would love to have been a dad, so I wrote to him in Marquette Prison telling him that he may be not only a father, but also a grandfather. If he would like more information, contact me. To date, he has refused to show any interest in his fatherhood. That's how strong his paternal instinct is. Again, it is not what he says, but what he does or doesn't do that is most revealing of his character.
On a personal note, I have spoken to the first alleged daughter many times on the telephone and am very familiar with her voice. When I heard the voice of the second woman on the phone, I'll be damned if I didn't hear a similar tone and tenor in the voices of both woman. It was eerily apparent. After receiving permission to have them contact each other, they both asked me to reluctantly inquire if there are any others within the reach of my blog who suspect Collins may be their father.
From my extensive research on Collins, I've found he was a practiced rapist, so other offspring may be waiting to be discovered. If you believe Collins may be your birth father, or if you have any information that might be useful in our quest, please contact me at gregoryafournier@ gmail.com. Your information will be held in strictest confidence.
See what one woman recently did to find her birth mom: