Sunday, November 17, 2019

The Elusive Purple Gang--Now Available From Amazon

The Elusive Purple Gang: Detroit’s Kosher Nostra is a concise history of one of America’s most notorious and violent Prohibition gangs. The four Burnstein brothers and their associates were the only Jewish gang in the United States to dominate the rackets of a major American city.

From their meteoric rise to the top of Detroit’s underworld to their ultimate demise, The Elusive Purple Gang is an episodic account of the Purple Gang’s corrosive pursuit of power and wealth and their inevitable plunge towards self-destruction. 

A quality Wheatmark Inc. paperback edition is now available from Amazon with ebook formats avaliable at the end of November. A digital audiobook is in production and should be available in late December.

2020 marks the one-hundredth anniversary of Prohibition. I hope readers young and old will find The Elusive Purple Gang informative and interesting. As always, Amazon reviews are kindly encouraged. Thank you.


Monday, November 11, 2019

John Norman Collins's Murder Alibi

John Norman Collins on Triumph motorcycle he used to pick up Karen Sue Beineman.

Part three of the Detroit Free Press retrospective article on killer John Norman Collins and the Washtenaw County Murders details two prison letters he wrote to his Canadian cousin John Philip Chapman in 2013. In them, Collins states he is innocent of the Karen Sue Beineman and Alice Kalom murders, and he names the killer.

A footnote to this three-part feature story is that Collins broke his long-standing rule of not responding to media requests and wrote the Free Press last Tuesday asking that they not publish the articles. Then, he proceded to slander me writing I was using him to snare women into my web. Just for the record, I don't have a web.

John Norman Collins Mugshot August 2, 1969.
Collins throws Eastern Michigan University Roommate Under Prison bus 

Sunday, November 10, 2019

The Washtenaw County Murders--1967-1969

Photo credit: The Detroit Free Press
Over a period of three summers, the bodies of seven Michigan young women and a high school student from Oregon visiting in California were found discarded in the countryside. The prime suspect was a handsome, high school sports star from Center Line, Michigan, who began his killing spree at Eastern Michigan University in 1967. Part two of this three part feature recounts the murders.

The Victims 

Friday, November 8, 2019

Detroit Free Press Delves Into the John Norman Collins Case

Michigan Department of Corrections mugshot--2014.

Detroit Free Press investigative reporter Frank Witsil took up the John Norman Collins murder cases and discovered that I have a collection of over twenty prison letters Collins wrote over the years to four different people--all who voluntarily decided to share them with me.

Two of those prison letters were sent to Collins's Canadian cousin John Philip Chapman. What makes those letters different from the others is for the first time Collins puts forth an alibi for the murders of Alice Kalom and Karen Sue Beineman. His motive for doing so will be made quite clear.

Witsil's three-part survey of the Collins case concludes with an exclusive report detailing his alibi which throws his former Eastern Michigan University roommate under the prison bus fifty years after the fact. People who follow this case will be more interested in the state of Collins's mind than any serious criminal revelations. Parts two and three of the Detroit Free Press feature will run in the coming days.

Collins Feature--Part One

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Gaslighting--A Sociopath's Favorite Tool

The psychological phenomenon known as gaslighting has become a colloquial term to describe a form of mental abuse where a dominant individual manipulates a weaker person's sense of psychological well-being to undermine the victim's mental stability. It is the manipulation of external reality to make someone doubt their sanity.

The term derives from the popular 1944 American film entitled Gaslight--based on a 1938 British stage play. Frenchman Charles Boyer plays the sociopathic husband of the psychologically frail Ingrid Bergman. This memorable film portrays a husband's attempt to destroy his wife's sanity by manipulating her perception of reality, so he can steal her jewels.

Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman
Sociopaths instill a high level of anxiety and confusion to disorient their victims. Information is twisted and spun by them so victims begin to doubt themselves. Targets lose faith in their ability to make judgments and become insecure about their decision-making abilities.

Gaslighting describes an antisocial personality disorder that relies on deception, denial, mind games, sabotage, isolation, and destabilization. It is a form of narcissistic abuse that occurs in all types of relationships and every walk of life. This syndrome is often associated with marital relationships, but anyone can be a victim. Gaslighting can be seen in abusive parent-child relationships and in the workplace with an aggressive boss brow-beating his employees. It is mental bullying that can escalate into physical violence. These narcissists are puppet masters who often manipulate people for their own personal gain or to play twisted power and control games.

Gaslighting is a deliberate and progressive method of covert control that imposes a form of psychosis on its victims. Brainwashing, interrogation, isolation, and torture are all forms of psychological warfare used by the military, intelligence agencies, law enforcement, and terrorist organizations. On any level, it is a human and civil rights violation. 


For more detailed information on gaslighting and a link to The National Domestic Violence Hotline, view the following link:

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Detroit Police Pioneer Radio Dispatching During Prohibition

During the lawless period of Prohibition, law enforcement and the underworld took full advantage of the automobile as their mode of transportation. The four-cylinder Ford Model T was inexpensive enough to be widely available to the masses and law enforcement. But other automobile manufacturers were making more expensive sleeker and faster cars giving gangsters the edge. The underworld had a ready source of money where the police had to go through official channels to secure government funding. Car manufacterers like Cadillac, Chrysler, Packard, Chevy, and Dodge outclassed and out-maneuvered the policeman's Tin Lizzy.

It wasn't until December 2, 1927, that Ford Motor Company introduced its V-8 engine making the Model A the car to beat. It left the in-line six-cylinder engines of its competitors in the dust. The Detroit Police were quick to buy thirty Ford Phaetons equipped with a new weapon in their fight against organized crime.

Ford Phaeton, V-8, radio-equipped Detroit police car.
Notice the bullet deflector protecting the radiator.

Detroit Police began experimenting with radio-equipped patrol cars in 1921. At first, it was one-way communication that could dispatch cars but not receive signals from patrol cars. Patrolmen had to find a phone booth to report to the station. In those days, the Detroit Police shared a frequency with a commercial radio station and cut into its programming to dispatch patrols.

Seven years later on April 7, 1928, Detroit Police radio operators broadcast throughout the city for the first time on a dedicated frequency from the Belle Isle police precinct. The new radio system reduced police response times and increased arrest rates. It was an instant success, quickly making radio-dispatching standard police practice nationwide.

In 1987, the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers honored the technical achievement of the Detroit Police Department with a plaque on the front of the now deserted Belle Isle precinct station, commemorating the electrical engineering milestone of dedicated police radio communications.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Berry Gordy's Lost Portrait

Rare, faded photo of DeVon Cunningham's portrait of Berry Gordy
--washed out from a flashbulb.

Berry Gordy and Motown Records did for popular music what Henry Ford and his company did for the automobile business--they changed American culture. Coincidently as a young man, Gordy worked on Ford's assembly line and learned lessons he would apply to his music empire allowing Motown to crank out an unprecedented number of hits enriching the American songbook--bringing what was once labeled "race music" into the era of "rhythm & blues." While Henry Ford made automobiles available to the masses, Berry Gordy brought his Motown sound to a national and international audience crossing racial barriers once thought impassible.

In the late 1960s, Anna Gordy Gaye--sister of Berry and wife of Motown performer Marvin Gaye--commissioned Detroit artist DeVon Cunningham to paint a portrait of her mogul brother. The first two attempts with Berry in a shirt and tie were cast aside because Anna felt they didn't capture Berry's "spirit." When Marvin Gaye complained after losing an argument with Gordy about a creative issue, he said, "That man is a fierce warrior." That image resonated with Anna. She showed a portrait of Napoleon to Cunningham which evolved into a portrait of Berry Gordy.

Napoleon Before St. Helene by Paul Delaroche

Anna presented the portrait to her brother on October 4, 1969, at the annual Loucye Gordy Wakefield Scholarship fund raiser, enabling twenty-six inner-city high school graduates to attend college. The fundraiser was held at Gordy's Boston-Edison, tile-roofed Renaissance estate.

Mrs. Gaye maneuvered the guests into a large parlor where the huge painting hung. Artist DeVon Cunningham unveiled the four by six foot portrait before the assembled guests--including many of Detroit's glitterati. There it was, Berry Gordy with an imperious look of command on his face as a Black Napoleon. Berry took one incredulous look and broke into laughter. Cunningham remembers him saying, "Damn, I like it."

Gordy displayed the portrait in his Detroit mansion for years before moving to Beverly Hills, California to expand Motown into the movie business. When the National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian Institute sought to locate the painting to verify its condition and ownership for their catalog of important American portraits, Berry Gordy could not be reached for comment, but his publicist stonewalled the researchers about the whereabouts of the portrait.

"The Smithsonian has been searching for almost two years," said Bethany Bentley--National Portrait Gallery spokesperson. "Getting on the list can lead to art museums requesting pieces for exhibits." The National Portrait Gallery gave up searching for the portrait but listed it anyway marking its location as "unknown."

Artist DeVon Cunningham talking about his "docu-art" in 2017

Artist DeVon Cunningham hasn't seen the portrait since he painted it. When interviewed by the Detroit News, Cunningham said he spoke to several of Gordy's associates who told him someone put it in Berry's head that it's not a compliment to be shown as Napoleon. After several books came out critical of Gordy and his Motown hit factory, he was concerned with his legacy and may have had the portrait destroyed.

If true, Cunningham was deprived of the public exposure and acclaim the National Portrait Gallery listing would have surely brought him. 

DeVon Cunningham speaks about his art

Hitsville USA