Sunday, February 7, 2016

The Dutch Psychic--Peter Hurkos

I was just settling into an interview with someone who knew John Norman Collins. It was a late lunch meeting at Haab's--downtown Ypsilanti's oldest and finest restaurant. I overheard two women, sitting in a booth adjacent to us, talking in hushed tones about John Collins and those times. What a coincidence!

After the lunch crowd, the restaurant was almost empty, so I interjected myself into their conversation. "Ladies! I'm in town this week doing research and interviewing people for a book I'm writing about John Norman Collins."

Both ladies said in unison, "Really?" One of the women had worked for the county police as a dispatcher at that time, and the other claimed to be a psychic.

"How amazing is this?" I said. "I just learned something new about Peter Hurkos--the Danish psychic who was summoned onto the unsolved murdercases by an Ann Arbor citizens' group."

"He helped solve the Boston Strangler case, didn't he," the lady psychic added.

Peter Hurkos being fingerprinted.
"Not really," I said. "He played a controversial role in that case. Boston police arrested him for impersonating an officer when he aggressively interrogated an emotionally disturbed man. He was told to leave town or face a judge.

Back in Los Angeles, he parlayed his experience into a nightclub act. Hurkos entered the coed killing media circus in an attempt to punch up his waning career."

Hurkos was hired for one day as a consultant for the disturbing Tony Curtis movie The Boston Strangler--a film John Collins was obsessed with. Years later, Hurkos was hired to appear in a cameo role in the movie version of the Collins' killings entitled Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep--which began filming in 1969 but was never released.

I explained to the ladies, "Mr. Archie Allen--head of an Ann Arbor citizens' group--offered Peter Hurkos $1,100 for expenses to come down from LA to look into this case. Hurkos asked for $2,500 plus expenses and was insulted when the group could not raise more money. He reluctantly agreed to come anyway because of all the potential free publicity generated from this case--especially if he got lucky and helped solve it."

"The man had powers," the lady psychic insisted. "He was a painter who fell off a ladder and banged his head, or something like that. I don't remember exactly. From then on, he could sense people and events from handling their things. He had the gift."

"Yes, I know. That was his claim to fame."

The former police dispatcher added, "Yes, that's right. I remember Lieutenant William Mulholland--an investigator on the case--saying, "He (Hurkos) is making a believer out of me."

John Sinclair
Well," I continued, "do you know who the citizens' group was?" I gave the psychic another chance to divine the answer. She could not.

"Remember, John Sinclair? He was always in trouble with the Washtenaw County sheriff."

"Yes, we do!"

"Sinclair and a bunch of his followers were tired of the police harassment they were getting, so they offered to help. They wanted to show they were responsible, caring members of the Ann Arbor community. One of their members said she thought there might be something cosmic or supernatural going on with this case, so why not try to get a psychic involved?"

"That's interesting," the women agreed

"My theory is they wanted to throw a wildcard into the mix and make the police look stupid. Soon afterwards, the Washtenaw County police were called the Keystone Kops by the Detroit Free Press."

Sheriff Douglas Harvey
"I remember how upset Sheriff Harvey was with that reporter," the former dispatcher said.

"Harvey did take it personally," I agreed. "I also discovered John Collins came into close contact with Hurkos just before Hurkos left town for LA. Peter Hurkos did not have the slightest clue. I got that information from someone who was there with Collins."