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...)