Monday, March 17, 2014

"The Rainy Day Murders" Reflections

When I set out to write the full story of The Rainy Day Murders and the man accused of killing seven young women in and around Ypsilanti, Michigan (1967-1969), I was primarily concerned with recounting the facts and paying a long overdue debt to history.

What began as a simple attempt to recount the details of these ghastly slayings and the evidence against John Norman Collins became a much more personal and far reaching endeavor than I could have ever imagined.

In the last three and a half years, I have researched every bit of government documentation about these cases that Ryan M. Place and I have been able to lay our hands on. As valuable as that factual material is, it tells only the official part of the story.

Newspaper accounts from back in the day were helpful to me with providing commentary, revealing public opinion, establishing times and dates, and filling gaps in the public record of which there are many.

But without this age of internet personal communication, the story I am writing now could not have been told. I have been able to reach out to many people across the country who had information and were ready to share what they know from those times. 

Still, other people have contacted me through my blog, Gmail, or Facebook accounts wanting to tell their stories about their connections with the victims or the accused. Suddenly, the writing of this book became very personal.

It is this living history that adds texture and depth to this story. More often than not, these memories were difficult to share, but most people felt relieved telling their long hidden memories after forty-five years of silence.

Finding background information on the unfortunate victims began to give them personalities beyond the facts and the headlines I began my research with. The layering of one tragic case upon another has made this a difficult story to tell, but every bit of physical and circumstantial evidence I have been able to find points to one inescapable conclusion - the State of Michigan convicted the right guy.