Wednesday, December 25, 2013

John Norman Collins Mail Call - Coming Clean With My Readers

For three and a half years, I have focused most of my worldly attention on researching and writing about John Norman Collins (JNC) and the Washtenaw County murders of 1967-1969. 

I would have been finished with The Rainy Day Murders six months ago but for an unforeseen development which I have been holding back from my readers. 

My researcher, Ryan M. Place, and I have privately received over twenty prison letters and a handful of emails from two separate sources that JNC had written to from April 2013 until October 2013.

The first cache of letters we received was from a woman who had been corresponding with JNC for close to a year. Sandra contacted us when Collins agreed to answer some of our questions through a third party, his current girlfriend, Sandra. 

We had written Collins numerous times asking for an interview, but he decided to use Sandra as a virtual "human shield" to play games with us. I am sure he believed that going through her would give him some level of control over the interview, but in reality, it was merely weak dealing.

Collins believed he had a firm grasp on her, but his glib, evasive, and sometimes disturbing answers to our written questions about the young women's murders began to turn her off, and she began to internalize her feelings about the defenseless victims of his carnage. What he said and how he said it was upsetting to her.

He began making lewd remarks in his prison letters. Rather than "charming" her with his sweet talk as he had been doing, he suddenly became vulgar and suggestive which bothered her. 

Finally, Sandra wrote to us saying she was through with Collins. Then she surprised us with an offer we couldn't refuse, "Would you like me to send you some of his prison letters?"


Ryan and I couldn't believe our luck. Here was an exclusive information drop handed to us. Primary resource material is the meat of research, and now we had some prison letters from JNC himself. Sandra sent us twelve personal letters and many pages of notes she had taken from several "collect" phone calls Collins had made to her from the prison yard.

Disgusted with him, Sandra finally told Collins that she had sent us the letters he had written to her. The master manipulator had been double-dealt and he was furious. 

Some days afterwards, in a phone call to me, Sandra said that John had called her back and apologized profusely. He said he had been under a lot of stress lately and needed to talk with her face-to-face, necessitating a visit to Marquette prison. 

"It's URGENT!" he told her. 

Stock Photograph - Depicts High Security, Non-Contact Visitation

For some unspecified reason, she recanted and drove several hundred miles up to Michigan's Upper Peninsula to finally face the prison inmate she had been writing for months. Although I wasn't made privy to their entire conversation, I do know this, JNC asked Sandra to marry him.

That is the last thing we have heard from Sandra. Her phone is still connected, but she isn't answering our calls.

Then something even more remarkable happened. In May of 2013, I received an email from a person who claimed to be JNC's last living Canadian blood relative. He had been investigating the internet for information on his infamous cousin and read several of my recent blog posts about him. 

The Canadian emailer wanted to correct the mistaken perceptions concerning his Uncle Rich, the Canadian birth father of John Norman Collins. What had been previously printed about his uncle was blatantly inaccurate, and he wanted me to set the record straight in The Rainy Day Murders.

More about the JNC Canadian family connection in my next post.

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