Saturday, September 28, 2013

Psychic Peter Hurkos Explains his Gift

When a serial killer has been at large in a community for an extended period of time, the public loses faith in local law enforcement and begins to look for its deliverance from other quarters.

The first manifestations of this are usually prayer vigils and crusades calling on divine intervention. If the killer continues to slaughter victims and eludes police long enough, calls for supernatural assistance inevitably arise.

The Jack the Ripper case is the most famous serial killer case in history, but by no means the first or the worst. In the Whitechapel area of London's East End, five women were butchered and left in streets and alleyways, and one was viciously mutilated in her bed. Then, the Ripper vanished into history.

Noted British spiritualist, medium, preacher, and Fleet Street journalist, Robert James Lees believed he saw visions of Jack the Ripper and went to police with that information. Scotland Yard turned him away thinking he was on a lunatic fringe. For a short while, Lees was himself a suspect in the Ripper case.

Sooner or later, psychics turn up in virtually every serial killer case. The first person to bill himself as a "police psychic" was Dutchman Pieter van der Hurk, known in America as Peter Hurkos. 

When the Stone of Scone was stolen from Westminster Abbey in 1950, legend has it that Hurkos told police that the Scottish relic was stolen as a prank but would soon be found. Just over a week's time later, the Stone was recovered. The French press had a field day with the story.

Hurkos received international press coverage, which made him an instant celebrity in Europe. By the end of the decade, he migrated to the United States and developed a supper club act based on his notoriety in solving crimes for police around Europe. Most of his claims were anecdotal and lacked official documentation.

In 1961, Peter Hurkos, with the help of  V. John Burggraf, wrote his autobiography simply titled Psychic. He tells of the origin of his gift of "second sight," a fall from a four story building, and he proceeds to give numerous examples of his more notable cases with "extrasensory perception" (ESP).

Hurkos tells his readers early in his story that his strange gift has baffled and astounded scientists and researchers throughout the world. "I am what parapsychologists refer to as a psychic. I am sensitive to people and events that concern them," he purports. Without giving any names or sources, Hurkos claims, "I have been told by scientists that my psychic gift is, so far as they know, the most highly developed in the world."

"I can read vibrations through a phenomenon known as psychometry. Another way to look at it is divining facts through physical contact with an object or its owner. Psychometry is only one of the many facets of my gift of ESP, the famous 'Sixth Sense' of history and legend. I also have the gift of 'precognition'."

Peter Hurkos cites in his book others from history who have had "inner vision." He mentions the prophet Isaiah of The Bible, the prophecies of Nostradamus four hundred years ago, and Edgar Lee Cayce, a famous twentieth-century sensitive. He criticizes Nostradamus for "vague predictions."

"I have never claimed more than eighty-five and one-half percent accuracy in my readings, as established by scientists performing thousands and thousands of tests with me."

Peter Hurkos equates that "emanations from a person or an object do exist, just as heat waves, radio waves, and electric impulses exist." He claims to be sensitive to vibrations from:
  • an object a person has touched
  • a piece of clothing the person has worn
  • a bed a person has slept in
  • anything a person is associated with
  • even a photograph of the person
Hurkos writes that when his powers are very strong, he can hold a telephone line while the phone is in use, and without having heard the conversation, "images leap into my mind like pictures on your television screen."

Peter Hurkos gained national attention in America when he was the subject of a One Step Beyond episode, a television supernatural series in the early Sixties. 

Peter Hurkos in custody
In 1963, he interjected himself in the Boston Strangler investigation, much to the displeasure of the Boston Police Department. After being arrested for impersonating a police detective and harassing a potential witness, he left the city under duress. Charges would be made and a trial would be held if he didn't leave town immediately.

Nonetheless, Hurkos was portrayed by an actor in the Hollywood film, The Boston Strangler, which did much to rehabilitate his popular reputation. 

Peter Hurkos, wife Stephany, with actress Kathryn Grayson
He became a regular guest on the television talk show circuit, gave private readings to celebrities and the wealthy, and he continued to perform his Las Vegas and Hollywood nightclub act with his wife/assistant, Stephany, but his bookings waned.

In 1969, Hurkos received an unexpected offer from a citizens' group to come to Ann Arbor, Michigan, and help police solve another serial killer case. Six local young women had been sexually assaulted and killed within a two year period, and the police were baffled.  

Reluctantly, he agreed. He was hoping he could regain some lost credibility and jump-start his career, if he could only solve these brutal sex-slayings before the killer would strike again.

One Step Beyond episode: The Peter Hurkos Story.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

New John Norman Collins Documentary on Investigative Discovery in December

The John Norman Collins movie begun in 1976, Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, was never completed despite rumors to the contrary. As far as anybody knows, no film footage from the original shoot exists. Of course, we are still looking for whatever we can find.


Sometime this December, The Investigative Discovery channel will debut a true-crime show called "A Crime To Remember." The network will run an episode called "A New Kind of Monster" on John Norman Collins and the Washtenaw County murders that occurred in Michigan in the late 1960s.


In addition to interviews with people familiar with these cases, this episode will include re-enactments of these crimes interspersed throughout the narrative. This show is a fresh look at a case that largely fell through the cracks of time.

When I receive the details when it will air, I'll pass the information on. Until then, here are the names of the full cast and crew. 



Executive Producer - Christine Connor

Series Associate Producer - Rebecca Morton

Director - Jeremiah Crowell

Assistant Director (Second Unit) - Paul Jarrett

Writer - Bruce Bennett

Cast (in alphabetical order):

Nick Adamson - John Norman Collins

Ardis Barrow - Joan Schell

Patricia Bartlett - Joan Goshe

Dan Berkey - funeral director

Devin Doyle - Dale Schultz

Erica Hernandez - Mary Fleszar

Johnny Kinnaird - State Police Detective

John Larkin - Sheriff Douglas Harvey

Scott Lehman - Corporal David Leik

Thomas J. Lombardo - Officer Matthewson

Kerri Sohn - Karen Sue Beineman 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The John Norman Collins Movie - Part Three of Three

In 1976, William Martin, (aka: Martin "Marty" Bacow), billed himself as executive producer for a movie based on the Washtenaw County murders of seven young women in 1967-1969 and their accused killer, John Norman Collins. 

He reported in an Ypsilanti Press article dated October 13th, that he had completed the script seven months before.  The movie was slated to be called Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, named after the children's bedtime prayer. "The filming should start sometime after the new year," Martin said.

William Martin, known as Marty, hired a New York film director (who wishes not to be identified) to assemble a film crew and come to Ypsilanti/Ann Arbor to shoot a low budget film. 

This Director of Photography (DP) says he and his crew drove two film trucks to Ann Arbor only to find that "Marty had no script, just a sketchy outline and nothing else. He had no cast, no locations, and he had only partial financing for the project." William Martin was confident that publicity would attract investors and additional funding, the life blood of the movie industry.

Rory Calhoun in "The Texan"
William Martin (executive producer) named local attorney Jay Kaufman to be the producer. It was his job to raise the money. Somehow, Martin was able to land Hollywood actors Rory Calhoun, to play a Michigan Sate Police post commander, and Kathryn Grayson of Hollywood musical fame, to play John
Kathryn Grayson in "Kiss Me Kate"
Norman Collins' aunt, Sandra Leik. These actors were represented by the same booking agent, who it was thought, owed Marty a favor. 
Psychic Peter Hurkos was hired to play himself and Bill Bonds, a local Detroit television newscaster, was also hired to play himself. Other roles would be cast by locals as they went along.

The DP said they shot footage for four or five weeks. On a typical day, there would be no casting and no preset location. "Marty rode around in a Cadillac convertible and literally acquired a cast and locations along the way. We were shooting cinema verite."

"For example, we went to the Michigan State Police headquarters and suddenly real state policemen were playing troopers in the movie, and we were shooting scenes in and around the police post."

Towards the end of the exterior and location shooting, Martin Bacow (aka: William Martin) was being questioned by Federal authorities about the disappearance of Teamster boss Jimmy Hoffa and where his body might be buried. Because of the controversy, word came down that the studio pulled the plug on the project.

The film crew was left high and dry. This was the weirdest film shoot any of them had ever been on, and they speculated that the film may have been a scheme to raise money and defraud investors.

William Martin produced several low budget movies over his career. One of them, Jacktown, is about a Jackson Prison inmate who tries to go straight in Royal Oak, Michigan. A short viewing of this film will convince anyone that William Martin (Martin Bacow) was no filmmaker.

When I wrote and contacted Paramount Pictures in Hollywood, I was told that they had no knowledge of Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep. Their archivist checked their records and film vault and found no evidence of any film rushes or publicity stills from the movie. They had no record or association with the film.

Further research on Martin "Marty" Bacow (aka: William Martin), discovered in a book entitled The Last Mogul by Dennis McDougal, revealed "Martin Bacow, a Hollywood jack of all trades, began his career in Southern California in 1948 as a boxing announcer, who then branched out over the next four decades to become an actor, screenwriter, labor negotiator, and a B movie producer."

A close associate of Teamster President Jackie Presser, Bacow was known as the Teamster's man in Hollywood. It was rumored he could start and settle labor disputes in Tinsel Town. 

The DP recollected that during the filming in Ann Arbor that "Marty was always seen in the presence of two Teamster consultants, William 'Candy' Davidson and Marvin 'The Steel Broker' Mulligan, who acted as Martin's private security."

Lost JNC Movie post - part one: 

Lost JNC Movie post - part two:

Friday, September 13, 2013

The Lost John Norman Collins Movie - Part Two

Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep was writer/producer/director William Martin's attempt to tell the story of the coed killings, alleged to have been committed by John Norman Collins in Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor, Michigan, between 1967 and 1969. The title comes from the well-known children's bedside prayer.

Martin made an earlier film in Michigan called Jacktown, the nickname for the world's largest walled prison at the time - Jackson State Prison. It was an uneasy mix of documentary footage from the Jackson prison riot in the 1950s, location shooting in Royal Oak, Michigan, and an uninspired script with wooden acting. What makes this movie fun to watch is how really bad it is.

As with Jacktown, Martin used seasoned actors in the lead roles for Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep and wanted some local talent to play several of the murdered girls. Local actress, Kathy Pierce of Chelsea, Michigan, was chosen to play the role of Karen Sue Beineman, the only murdered coed Collins was convicted of killing. Allison Date from Ann Arbor had also been cast as one of the victims.

As other writers have done in the past, Martin changed the names of the victims, which over time has obscured the girls' identities. Karen Sue Beineman was renamed Carol Ann Gebhardt in one account, Karry B. in another, and Norma Jean Fenneman in Martin's movie. By my count, the seven victims are referred to by no fewer than twenty-eight names in various treatments of this material. Is it any wonder the public is so confused about this case? John Norman Collins' character was to be called Brian Caldwell, played by veteran actor, Robert Purvey (See bio link for more information about him).

At first, Martin said he encountered lots of local resistance, but after the The Michigan Murders came out in 1976, resistance became pointless. Then, Collins' lawyers tried to get an injunction against the film because it prejudiced the appeals process against their client. At his own expense, Martin, offered to close down production of his film if John Collins would take a lie-detector test exonerating himself. He never did.

More serious was an Ann Arbor News report from July 30th, 1977, about William Martin being approached by "a large man with a beard" at about 10:00 AM as he was preparing for the day's shoot. The burly man poked his finger into Martin's chest and told him, "You, you're dead. We'll kill you!" Afterwards, Martin told of other threats to him and some of the film's stars. The article goes on to say, "a truckload of road blocks led some to believe that this film would never be made."

Last week, actor Robert Purvey contacted my researcher with a different story. He said that Martin had only half a script and asked Purvey to help write the story as they went along. They spent their days on location and their evenings feverishly preparing for the next day's shooting. Once the crew returned to Hollywood, there were additional studio scenes to shoot and post production costs skyrocketed, so the project was shelved.

Probably just as well. The story of the murders of these young woman deserves to be told accurately - not cobbled together like some mystery movie of the week. If William Martin's early film, Jacktown, is any indication, it is better that Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep never saw the light of day.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Lost John Norman Collins Movie - Part One

In early 1977, a film crew of thirty-five people from Hollywood descended upon the communities of Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor, Michigan, to make a film about John Norman Collins, the all-American boy and Eastern Michigan University student, who allegedly murdered seven young women in the area.

Producer/director/writer, William Martin, took five years to write the screenplay and insisted that it was not at all connected with The Michigan Murders, which was released a year earlier in 1976. Martin's movie was to be more of a mood piece about the community in crisis rather than "factual" details. The movie was entitled, Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep.

"It's not a police story," Martin told reporters. "The whole county was in terror for two years. I'm only doing it from the standpoint of what was running through the minds of the girls, what was happening in the community, and what was happening with the killer at large."

What was happening with the killer is still a story begging to be told. John Norman Collins has steadfastly maintained he is innocent.

The budget for this film ranged from early estimates of 1 million dollars to a soaring 2.5 million in total production costs. The film was slated by Paramount Pictures for its Ypsilanti premiere around Christmas time in 1978, but the film was never completed. Somewhere in a vault or storage locker lies footage from a film never before seen by the public.

Martin planned to change the names of the victims as Edward Keyes and others have done, but Terror In Ypsilanti uses the real names of the people.

Malibu surf legend, Robert Purvey, was cast as John Norman Collins; Rory Calhoun portrayed Washtenaw County Sheriff, Douglas Harvey; Katherine Grayson, of 1940's MGM musical fame, was to play Collin's aunt, Sandra Leik; Peter Hurkos agreed to play himself with little or no persuasion; and local Detroit WXYZ anchorman, Bill Bonds, reprised his role as a field reporter which he had previously played in a couple of Planet of the Apes movies and Five Easy Pieces.

Reasons why the film was never completed range from John Collins lawyers trying to get a court injunction to stop production to personal threats against the producer. Recently, my researcher, Ryan Place, has been in contact with Robert Purvey who sheds new light on why this movie was never made. More on that in my next post.

Lost Collins Movie - Part Two

Friday, September 6, 2013

Joyce Maynard's New Novel, After Her, and the Current Movie Based on Her Novel, Labor Day

Wednesday night, I had the pleasure of attending one of Joyce Maynard's book talks at Warwick's independent bookstore in La Jolla, California. She was promoting her current novel, After Her. When her presentation ended, we chatted briefly afterwards and exchanged books.

After Her is a novel loosely based on The Trailside Killer case in Marin County, California in the late 1970s. Joyce tells the tale of two sisters and their love for their philandering, detective father whose job it is to capture the Trailside Killer. After Her is a complex thriller and a real page turner.

Joyce may be best known for the novel To Die For, which was made into a movie directed by Gus Van Sant, starring Nicole Kidman in one of her best roles ever.

An aspiring local weather girl will do whatever it takes to make it in television, even having her husband murdered by three teens. The movie is better than I make it sound. It is a dark comedy based on a real incident.

Joyce Maynard's book, Internal Combustion, is about Nancy Seaman, an award winning fourth grade teacher, who went to Home Depot and bought an axe to kill her ex-Ford Motor Company engineer husband in the garage of their Farmington Hills, Michigan home.

Mrs. Seaman attempted to use the "battered wife" defense, but her trial revealed a disturbing history of family dysfunction and a pattern of sociopathic behavior on her part. When Joyce started writing this story, she instinctively sided with the wife, but upon closer examination of the facts and her own research, another picture of Nancy Seaman emerged which made Joyce change her mind about the case.

Joyce Maynard's novel Labor Day has been made into a film and is currently showing in theaters. It is directed by Jason Reitman and stars Kate Winslet, Josh Brolin, and Toby Maguire. I haven't seen this yet, so I won't comment on it.

Joyce did say she met documentary filmmaker, Michael Moore, at the Telluride Film Festival recently after a screening of Labor Day. He was coming out of the men's room and spotted her.

"You won't believe what's going on inside the men's restroom, Joyce," he said suppressing a grin.

"What?" she asked, waiting for the punchline.

"Grown men are in there crying their eyes out."

I have to see this movie.

Joyce Maynard
In the link below, Joyce criticizes the new Ken Burns' documentary about J.D. Salinger, having been an eighteen year old victim of the predatory Salinger.

When asked why she participated in the biography, she replied, "I decided that I would speak for myself rather than have others speak about me."

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Fornology on Web Radio - This Friday, September 6th - 8:30 PM Eastern/5:30 PM Pacific Time

My interview cancelled from last week had technical difficulties but was rescheduled for this Friday. I hope you can listen in. Call me if you have a question. Thanks!

This Friday, September 6th, I’ll be doing a live web radio interview for The Patrick Walters Show out of Roxboro, North Carolina. I’ll be talking about my book, Zug Island: A Detroit Riot Novel and topics related to it. I hope to steer the interview towards the subject of my current project, serial killer John Norman Collins and The Rainy Day Murders.

This live webcast is on

8:30 PM Eastern time/5:30 PM Pacific time
Friday, September 6th, 2013

This is a call-in show. If you have any questions about my books or my blog <>, the number to call is (949) 272-9578. Drop me a line!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Public School Education - Not a Melting Pot - But a Rich, Savory Stew by guest blogger Roger Huie

I've long considered myself lucky to have spent my career as a high school teacher, particularly in a school that served a multi-ethnic and multi-socioeconomic student population. I saw that regardless of background almost all students want an education and worked to get one. That even the ones who didn't appear to care about their education actually did care. Sometimes I wouldn't recognize this until years later when I would run into an apparent underachiever who was doing quite nicely in his/her life, who was pleased for the opportunity to share this and to tell me that I and other teachers had made a difference.

I also realized that not every student starts with the same opportunities. The children of the poor and illiterate, even if they have the same native intelligence, start out considerably behind the children of middle and professional classes. If you've not been read to, if there's no reading material in the home outside of food labels, if you are not surrounded by the products of success or even the hope of it, then academic achievement, let alone financial achievement may not be a priority or even seem a realistic goal.

Nor is every student destined to be a rocket scientist. Most teachers take each student from where they are when they enter their classroom and try to take them as far as they can go. This is why, even though I coached most of my career, I minimized competition in my classroom: If we are trying to lift all students why create an environment in which there are winners and losers. The ultimate competition is with yourself, whether in academia or in sport. We should encourage students to achieve to the best of their ability, and understand that not all of them will achieve the same heights.

Finally, I was lucky to work with colleagues from a variety of ethnic groups and all walks of life that were, no matter our differences, united in our efforts to help our students achieve. Knowing white, black, Hispanic, Asian, Christians, Muslims, and Jews (I could go on) as professional educators helped alleviate many of the prejudices humans are heir to. And to those who are still engaged in teaching, I commend you for your efforts. Regardless of the bad press that swirls around our profession, if you are doing your job, your students know it, even if they don't recognize it or acknowledge it now.
One teacher answers the question, "What do you make?"

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Zug Island: A Detroit Riot Novel by Gregory A. Fournier - Book Review by Dr. Robert Rose

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

When Greg sent me his book, I assumed it was going to be about racism and the causes of the Detroit Riot in 1967. During that time I was teaching in an all black school of 800 in San Bernardino, California, and I knew full well how the tentacles of racism were choking the life from my students.

I was somewhat correct that it was about racism, but seen through the eyes of an eighteen year old white boy (Jake) who had never even been close to a black person. It is much more than that, it is a wonderful story about two young men, one white and one black who transcend their backgrounds and group prejudice to see one another as - human beings. The ending brought tears of joy and pride in what could be accomplished when we can erase what we’ve been taught and see one another freshly and fairly as uniquely human.

The long section that describes his time on Zug Island was interesting and terrifying. It reminded me of when I read The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. My uncle had told me when he had worked in a meat packing plant in the Thirties he had been standing on a large piece of meat. When his shift was over he threw it into the garbage. 

The foreman saw him and ordered him to put it on the conveyor line to process. My uncle refused and was fired. That was minor compared to the horrors the children and poor immigrants endured in losing limbs and lives without insurance or medical treatment in the factories.
Zug Island was a living Hell. The furnaces were insatiable and the heat was unbearable, the smoke and dust were destroying their lungs, and the physical work only a man desperate for a job would take. 99% of the laborers were poor blacks, mostly from the deep South. Jake stood out as one of the few whites. It was the fact that his grandfather and father had worked there and were respected that he was given the chance to prove himself. That he did.

Theo, a young married black who worked to make enough to hopefully get out of there and move his family back home, became Jake’s mentor and friend. Through Theo and the others, Jake saw a side of America he had no idea existed. The overwhelming frustrations from lack of a decent education, the fact that last hired, first fired was a reality that black men dealt with by taking it out on each other. Attacking any of the causes or any white person meant facing a justice system that they knew was unjust for them.

It didn’t make sense to most people why during the 1967 Detroit Riots, and other such outbreaks, that blacks destroyed their own neighborhoods. It was a build-up of intense anger from the reality of their helplessness against so many societal institutions that were keeping them down.

As teachers, Greg and I taught minority students and found ways to overcome their helplessness by building trust and caring relationships. Changing their negative mindsets through activities proved to them that they could be academically and socially successful and responsible for their actions.

Unfortunately, despite all the money poured into the minority schools and the pathetic attempts at real integration, and the fact that many lives did improve, the sense of inferiority and helplessness is the reality for millions today.

Greg’s book with his emphasis on the possibilities of real friendship between different races is proof that it can happen. It is a feel good book that you won’t want to put down until the end.