Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Fraud Alert! Beware of Wireless Chip in Your Credit Card

Cyber criminals have a powerful ally - the credit card companies themselves. Credit card fraud has never been easier.

Because of a wireless chip in millions of credit cards, your "secure" number can be lifted from your purse, pocket, or wallet without even touching you. All a criminal needs is a card reader and an i-Pad.

You don't believe me? Check out the link below.


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Rendezvous with Death - Part Three

Since the 1980s, law enforcement experienced a gradual decline in the number of violent crimes in the United States. In 2003, the U.S. House of Representatives authorized one billion dollars to use DNA to reduce the huge backlog of cases that had gone cold. Two retired Michigan State Police Detectives volunteered to look into the Michigan Coed murders of the late 1960s.
In 2004, the Michigan State Police ran DNA samples from at least two of the murdered Michigan coeds through the FBIs Combined DNA Index System (CODIS). The third young woman John Norman Collins allegedly killed in the series of seven sex slayings attributed to him was twenty-three year old, Jane Mixer, a graduate law student at The University of Michigan.

Even though a few investigators most familiar with these cases felt from the start that Jane's murder was characteristically different from the two previous murders, she was included in the unsolved coed murder cache. Thirty-five years later, a DNA analysis of her pantyhose revealed copious amounts of perspiration on them that wasn't from Jane. DNA was extracted from the sweat cells and run through the FBI's CODIS database.

The first run through the system produced a "cold" hit on a retired male nurse who had been convicted on a prior fraud charge for writing bogus prescriptions. He was entered into the CODIS system at that time. Gary Earl Leiterman, dubbed by the local press as "The Elmer Fudd Killer," was found guilty of the murder of Jane Mixer. John Norman Collins was cleared.

Since DNA scientific evidence is considered so strong in court, many cold cases have been solved in the thirty years since it has been introduced as an effective crime fighting tool. Many guilty parties have been brought to justice, while some of the innocent have been exonerated of their crimes after years of unjust imprisonment.

It should be noted that John Norman Collins has refused DNA testing, which could prove him innocent of the murders he has steadfastly claimed he is innocent of committing for the last forty-five years. Even John's supporters must find that curious. Seems to me if he had a "Get Out of Jail" card, he would have gotten his ticket punched years ago.

(To be continued...)


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Rendezvous with Death - Part Two

My goal in recounting the horrible deaths of seven young women in Washtenaw County, Michigan, in the late 1960s, is not to evoke the pain and sorrow of friends and family, which is bound to happen, but to present an up-to-date account of what occurred so long ago, which has been obscured by time, hasty reporting, and spotty police work.

I have researched the misnamed "coed murders" and interviewed people who knew the victims and discovered details not generally known to the public. I am attempting to bring together living history accounts, over 700 pages of news clippings from the era, the Michigan State Police report the prosecutor of this case worked from, perceptions of people who knew John Collins - the alleged serial killer, and several post trial developments which will give a fuller picture of this story than ever told before.

The national obscurity of this case is largely due to being overshadowed by the Charles Manson case in Los Angeles, California. John Norman Collins was arrested the night of July 31, 1969. On August 10th, just over a week later, the bodies of pregnant Sharon Tate, director Roman Polanski's starlet wife, and three others people, were ruthlessly slaughtered in the Hollywood Hills. The discovery and the murder case that followed became known as the "Helter Skelter" murders. The national spotlight suddenly shifted from Washtenaw County and the sullen John Collins, to the West Coast and wildman Charles Manson. The spotlight suddenly dimmed at the Ann Arbor courthouse.

The case of the Michigan murders faded into the background, except for those who knew the victims and/or the suspect, or for people who lived in the area during those tense two summers between 1967 and 1969. The dim shroud of time, misinformation leaked by and to the press, the Blue Wall of Silence, and a "fictionalized" account of the murders rushed into print because of a publishing deadline, have obfuscated many of the facts and details of this case.

It should be remembered that John Norman Collins was convicted of only one of the seven murders attributed to him. The public knows a great deal more about Karen Sue Beineman than any of the other victims because of the public court proceedings. But Mary Flezsar, Joan Schell, Maralynn Skelton, Dawn Basom, Alice Kalom, and Roxie Phillips, the six other murdered young women linked to Collins, have never had their day in court or had their stories told publicly.

An interesting and pertinent development came to light thirty-seven years after John Collins was convicted of murder in the first degree of Karen Sue Beineman. DNA forensic evidence cleared Collins of one of the murders attributed to him. What of that?

(To be continued...)

Friday, July 13, 2012

Rendezvous with Death - Part One

Death comes in many guises and everyone gives up the ghost eventually. It is our mortality which strikes a common chord in human beings. Natural causes take the greatest share of humanity, armed military conflicts decimate our ranks even further, and chance accidents take their toll on many people. Some unfortunate souls embrace death after the pain of living becomes too much for them to bear, but few would argue that the most difficult kind of death for most people to reconcile is the wanton and senseless murder of the young and innocent.

Full of life one moment - facing down death the next - these victims are not only robbed of their futures, but also of their pasts. The memories of family and friends are forever tainted by their unexpected and violent deaths. They carry the pain and the burden of their loved ones passing for their lifetimes, and their sorrow spills onto future generations. All are punished.

In my efforts to tell the complete story of the Michigan murders (1967-1969) of six young women in the Ypsilanti/Ann Arbor area and a seventh murdered woman in Salinas, California, I have gone beyond what was reported in the newspapers and previously written about these crimes. I have tried to reach out to friends and family of the victims to see if some of the loose ends can be tied up.

By reexamining and drawing together evidence and anecdotal accounts from previously un-interviewed parties, I want to tell the larger story of the person alleged to have killed these young women, John Norman Collins. He was tried and convicted for only one of the murders - the sex slaying of Eastern Michigan University freshman, Karen Sue Beineman, in 1969. Six of the seven other killings remain officially unsolved. Anyone who feels he or she has pertinent information regarding any of the principal figures in this series of murders from the late sixties can contact me confidentially at my gmail address: gregoryafournier@gmail.com.

Needless to say, not everyone is sympathetic with my goal of setting the record straight. I hope to tell as much of this case as possible, given the lack of public information available to me. A Washtenaw County court clerk told me last year that public records prior to 1970 are unavailable. The Ypsilanti City Police revealed to me that they don't keep records prior to 2006. The Michigan State Police have informed me that autopsy and forensic reports are not available because these cases are still considered part of an open police investigation. After forty-five years, I'm glad to know the police are still on the case.

(To be continued...)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Six Guiding Principles of Secular Humanism

Secular Humanism is a belief that humans are responsible for their actions without the presumption of divine intervention or the surrender to fate. Humanists are moved by the human condition and feel society has a responsibility to work for the improvement of life without the interjection of superstition or mythology. Virtue and morality are completely compatible with this philosophy.

For more information, check out the link below:

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Detroit Shout Out 4 - Concert of Colors - July 12th-15th

If you are in the Detroit area between July 12th and the 15th, the Concert of Colors is a not to be missed event.

This free 20th anniversary jamfest is held in four different venues around town to accommodate a huge lineup of talent and many musical styles to please virtually every taste.

Check out the following link for more detailed information. http://concertofcolors.com/

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The John Norman Collins Case - Dredging Up the Past

John Norman Collins Confident He Can Beat the Rap
As I continue to do research on the string of brutal sex crime murders in the university towns of Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor in the late 1960s, I am amazed that John Norman Collins has his supporters, people who are not happy or sympathetic with my quest to tell this tragedy as truthfully and fully as possible. Collins, now in Michigan prisons for over forty-two years, still inspires loyalty.

Of several people in his hometown of Center Line who still think Collins was railroaded, none have provided any leads or evidence of his innocence, only the vague recollections that he was a local star athlete, the Golden Boy of his St. Clement's High School class of 1965.

A few people I've spoken with from his high school, grudgingly admit that Collins may have been guilty of one murder but not the others. They say something must have happened to John after he left his hometown. The theme I keep hearing is that he got involved in drugs at college and hung out with a bad crowd. He did drink beer and join a jock fraternity, but John was a servant of his self-will. He wasn't led by others; he was the leader. On motorcycle outings in the farm country north of Ypsilanti, John was always leading the pack, according to people who rode with him.

Karen Sue Beineman
Then there are the friends and family who don't want to be reminded of the pain and suffering of their loss. Of the eight murders John Collins is accused of committing, only two have been publicly solved: Karen Sue Beineman's murder, which Collins was convicted of, and the murder of Jane Mixer, which DNA proved thirty-five years later that Collins didn't commit.

Five other Michigan young women and one from Oregon visiting California at the time of her death are technically listed as "cold cases." Because of the expense of bringing these other cases to trial and the belief that law enforcement has their man, the other murders have remained officially unsolved leaving many questions unanswered.

Jane Mixer
Because of many factors, the facts of this dark chapter in the history of Washtenaw County are obscured by time and a desire of county officials to have this sad episode forgotten. Public documents for this case are not available. But history and the public interest need to know the facts as far as they can be shown.

Fortunately, a number of people who knew Collins and/or the victims in this case are now coming forward with new threads to this story which I hope to weave into whole cloth in the book I'm working on, In the Shadow of the Water Tower.

In the next several weeks, I will be interviewing as many of these people as I can. If you have any relevant information to offer, please contact me at gregoryafournier@gmail.com.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

25 Lies Writers Tell Themselves

Every writer has had writers' block or will get it. Most of us write because we want to, not because we are forced to. But without self-motivation, it's easy to make excuses for not writing. Waiting for the muse to strike is poetic but not practical.

The link below is an excellent post about "25 Lies Writers Tell Themselves and Start To Believe." I don't know about you, but I take my motivation where and when I can get it.