Friday, March 28, 2014

Two Adult Children of Rape Believe John Norman Collins May be Their Father

The crime of rape is a soul-wrenching experience for anyone to endure. As society has become increasingly open with discussing this issue, more and more children of rape are opting to discover their birth mothers and family histories. If any human experience is bittersweet, this is it. 

Today, there are organizations and support groups for adult children of rape to reconnect with their birth mothers. The stigma in our society against these innocent offspring still exists, but increasing public exposure of successful reunions is making it easier for more people to come forward.

In 2011, I was contacted by a woman who has asked that her name not be revealed. She was a child of a rape in 1968 and located her birth mother only several years ago. She has since established a loving, healthy relationship with her. Upon inquiring about her birth father though, her mother was uncomfortable and evasive when it came to revealing who he was. After some hemming and hawing, the mom admitted that she knew who the father was, that he was still alive, but that he was unavailable for a meeting. 

On a hunch, she asked if her father was in prison. "Yes," was the answer. Reluctantly, her mother told her that she believed her father to be John Norman Collins. When Collins was arrested in 1969 and his picture was in all the papers, she thought she recognized him as the man who raped her.

Only two months ago, I received another gmail from a woman who now lives on the East Coast. After reading some of my Collins blog posts, she decided to contact me believing that her father may be John Norman Collins. This woman searched for and discovered her birth mother and has since established a relationship with her. 

And of course, this woman also wanted to know who her birth father was. Whenever she inquired about him, her mother refused to tell her his name because she was still scared of him. Then her daughter found a copy of The Michigan Murders in her mother's house and read it. When she asked her mother about it, her mother looked quite upset. That was her daughter's first inkling that JNC could be her birth father, despite the antagonist's name being changed to John Armstrong in the novel.

I gmailed her back and asked if we could speak on the phone so I could report on what I knew. When I told her that she was the second person to contact me about JNC's possible paternity, she livened up. I told her the background of my efforts to contact Collins and his siblings to see if we could arrange for a paternity test to show kinship. They were unresponsive. I was told by the Michigan Department of Corrections that there is a statute of limitations for rape and we would need a court order to get a DNA sample from Collins.

John Norman Collins has often said that he loves children and would love to have been a dad, so I wrote to him in Marquette Prison telling him that he may be not only a father, but also a grandfather. If he would like more information, contact me. To date, he has refused to show any interest in his fatherhood. That's how strong his paternal instinct is. Again, it is not what he says, but what he does or doesn't do that is most revealing of his character.

On a personal note, I have spoken to the first alleged daughter many times on the telephone and am very familiar with her voice. When I heard the voice of the second woman on the phone, I'll be damned if I didn't hear a similar tone and tenor in the voices of both woman. It was eerily apparent. After receiving permission to have them contact each other, they both asked me to reluctantly inquire if there are any others within the reach of my blog who suspect Collins may be their father.

From my extensive research on Collins, I've found he was a practiced rapist, so other offspring may be waiting to be discovered. If you believe Collins may be your birth father, or if you have any information that might be useful in our quest, please contact me at gregoryafournier@ Your information will be held in strictest confidence.

See what one woman recently did to find her birth mom:

Sunday, March 23, 2014

"The Rainy Day Murders" Spring Status Report

Writing has come a long way since its beginnings as cuneiform messages pressed into soft clay tablets over five thousand years ago. Once the tablets dried, they were permanent records of business transactions and simple messages primarily. A notable exception being the oldest known literature ever found, The Epic of Gilgamesh, discovered in 1853 buried in the desert of what is now Iraq.

Ancient scribes wrote their important messages on vellum, which was made of scraped and tanned sheep or goat hide. Charcoal was ground and mixed with oils to create crude ink and applied with crude reed brushes or sticks. Vellum was much more portable than clay tablets, but it was much more perishable also. 

It was the Egyptians who developed papyrus which led to the eventual development of paper. Papyrus could be rolled into scrolls for easy storage and portability. 

The ancient Egyptians also inscribed their writing on the walls and columns of their important civic buildings, as did the Greek, Roman, and other notable empires. Much of what we know of ancient history comes from the ruins of these monuments.

The printing press with moveable type was invented in 1436 by Johannes Gutenberg in Germany. Now, ideas could be mass produced and public opinion shaped. This invention helped change the political landscape of Europe. Bound paper books and libraries have been the repositories of the world's knowledge for close to seven hundred years of human history. 

In our own time, books have lost favor to digital methods of recording our thoughts and ideas in ways we couldn't have imagined possible, even twenty years ago. The digital computer age has revolutionized how we work and how we live.

What humans have used to write with has also evolved over the ages. The reed stylus created the wedge shaped notations in moist clay used by the Sumerians and Babylonians. The Greeks and the Romans used bone or ivory styluses to imprint notes and messages on wax tablets, not to mention metal chisels to immortalize their empire's achievements in stone and marble.

Quill pens were developed around 700 A.D. which was an advancement that lasted until the development of the first pencils and fountain pens in the 1800s. Then, in the late1860s, the modern typewriter was invented to mechanize how we write. Sometime in the late 1980s, word processing and personal computers took over from the mechanical typewriter.

Today, most humans tap out their messages digitally on a keyboard or a touch screen. Instantaneous messaging can reach a global audience, with far reaching implications for the future. Ironically, humans are once again writing on tablets, only digital ones this time around.

So that brings me to the subject of this post. With all the advancements in writing technology over the millenniums and today's high-speed computing, why does it take so long for a book to be published?
  1. First, the writer needs a solid idea to develop and write about. That can take years.
  2. Next, the book needs to be researched and checked for facts, corrected, rewritten, and revised.
  3. Then, the writer must hire a qualified editor to help bring the writing up to current publishing industry expectations.
  4. Finally, the writer needs to find an agent interested enough in the project to pitch the book to a publisher who is willing to invest time and money promoting it in the marketplace.
Interested readers of this blog have been asking me with increasing frequency, "When will The Rainy Day Murders be available?

Currently, I'm in the rewriting stage and have lined up an editor to help me over the summer. When I feel I have a quality, professional manuscript, I will solicit an agent. Then, it is anybody's guess when I can attract a trade publisher.

Despite the high-speed internet age we live in, the publishing business is notoriously slow. The only thing I can say about when The Rainy Day Murders will be available is "Stay tuned."

Check out this link for five charts showing the current trends in the publishing business. I have my work cut out for me.

Monday, March 17, 2014

"The Rainy Day Murders" Reflections

When I set out to write the full story of The Rainy Day Murders and the man accused of killing seven young women in and around Ypsilanti, Michigan (1967-1969), I was primarily concerned with recounting the facts and paying a long overdue debt to history.

What began as a simple attempt to recount the details of these ghastly slayings and the evidence against John Norman Collins became a much more personal and far reaching endeavor than I could have ever imagined.

In the last three and a half years, I have researched every bit of government documentation about these cases that Ryan M. Place and I have been able to lay our hands on. As valuable as that factual material is, it tells only the official part of the story.

Newspaper accounts from back in the day were helpful to me with providing commentary, revealing public opinion, establishing times and dates, and filling gaps in the public record of which there are many.

But without this age of internet personal communication, the story I am writing now could not have been told. I have been able to reach out to many people across the country who had information and were ready to share what they know from those times. 

Still, other people have contacted me through my blog, Gmail, or Facebook accounts wanting to tell their stories about their connections with the victims or the accused. Suddenly, the writing of this book became very personal.

It is this living history that adds texture and depth to this story. More often than not, these memories were difficult to share, but most people felt relieved telling their long hidden memories after forty-five years of silence.

Finding background information on the unfortunate victims began to give them personalities beyond the facts and the headlines I began my research with. The layering of one tragic case upon another has made this a difficult story to tell, but every bit of physical and circumstantial evidence I have been able to find points to one inescapable conclusion - the State of Michigan convicted the right guy. 

St. Patrick's Day Movie Pick - "The Quiet Man"

The Quiet Man is a masterful film realization of a wonderful short story by Maurice Walsh. This Technicolor movie won Republic Pictures its only best picture Oscar. 

If you want to do something to celebrate St. Patrick's Day that will make you proud to be of Irish descent, make yourself a corned beef and cabbage dinner with some boiled potatoes, pour yourself some Irish whiskey or some Guinness, and watch this sentimental movie. Ireland never looked lovelier.

Have a Happy St. Patty's Day.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Claudia Teal Whitsitt Writes Michigan Mystery - The Wrong Guy

The Wrong Guy is Claudia Teal Whitsitt’s second novel. It is set against the tainted campus atmosphere of Eastern Michigan University just after the arrest of real life serial killer, John Norman Collins. In August of 1969, less than a month after Collins was charged with the murder of an EMU coed, Whitsitt’s heroine, Katie Hayes, must adjust to freshman life away from home and reconcile her Catholic upbringing with the temptations of university life.

Whitsitt accurately depicts campus culture as she takes her heroine through the ups and downs of dormitory living and adjusting to her new life of freedom and possibility, juxtaposed against her inhibitions and keen sense of guilt-driven family responsibility.

Six months into the school year as Katie navigates her way through her first serious romance, an emergency calls her home. The unexpected trip turns her life and the vision she has created for herself upside down.

Once back at school and wrestling with her own demons, the campus is again terrorized by the abduction of one coed and the murder of another. Katie is left to wonder: Did the police arrest the wrong guy for the Ypsilanti coed killings?

Claudia Whitsitt creates several levels of tension and layers the suspense in this fast-moving and compelling novel. The Wrong Guy will resonate with any woman who ever dreaded fallout from a difficult relationship.


For more information on Claudia Teal Whitsitt and her writing, check out this

To purchase Claudia's novels, go here:

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Remembering Dawn Basom and Happier Times in Ypsilanti

Defunct Peninsular Paper Company hydroelectric plant on the Huron River, just south and across the street from Dawn Basom's home on LeForge Rd.

Working closely with the facts and circumstances of the Washtenaw County Murders has given me a concentrated view into the evidence against John Norman Collins. If I ventured no further than that, I would be able to present only one dimension of these young women - as victims. But they were much more than that.

It is their victimology that forever links them in death, seven women who had no knowledge of one another in life. It is this cruel irony that I have tried to mitigate by writing The Rainy Day Murders, which is currently undergoing an extensive rewrite before it goes off to an editor. I want to know more about these young woman as living human beings and not just the subjects of police reports.

Each of these girls was a unique person with hopes and dreams, strengths and weaknesses, joys and sorrows. Each had a family, be it good or bad, and each of the girls lives on in the memories of their family and friends. Each memory forever tainted by the senseless tragedy that befell each of them.

As much as I have learned about these girls as people over the last four years of researching their cases, I am forever an outsider when it comes to the aching memories of their loved ones. The efforts of my researcher and me to contact family members and friends for their testimonials has been only partially successful.

The pain is too strong, even after all these years. But in a few instances, some people have been able to overcome their emotions and rein in their grief to share their memories of happier times. Here is one such recollection of Dawn Basom's life by Elizabeth Kay Mann.


"I read a great deal of your information (Fornology posts) and was mesmerized and totally thinking what it was like for me being thirteen (Dawn's age when murdered) in Ypsilanti.

"Dawn and her brother were best friends of mine at Central Elementary School, I would say 1962 or so. I spent a lot of time with her family as I grew up on Ann St. not far from LeForge where she lived. We were in second grade and all of seven years old. I felt like part of her family.

"Our common denominator was the love of horses and horseback riding. Dawn had three palominos: Lady, the mom, and Joker and Ace. She and I rode nearly daily when our world was a softer, safer, much more gentle place. A time when folks looked out for the children that they saw everyday. 

Stock Photo - Not Dawn and Kay.

"We rode double on horseback in the fields near Peninsula Paper and Highland Cemetery, where it was peaceful, and along the Huron River in back of the Basom's land. A perfect childhood for two wonderful horse loving girls. It's all different looking today.

"As time marched on, I moved with my parents to the east side of Ypsilanti to Hickory Woods on Grove Rd., Dawn staying of course with her family on LeForge Rd. We invariably lost touch. She went to West Junior High School, and I went to East Junior High School. I never saw my childhood friend at Ypsilanti High School because her life was cut short.

"The atmosphere around Ypsilanti (during the murders) was one of fear and trepidation. Once the Washtenaw County Sheriffs' Department sent out information on the killings, and that perhaps Dawn was one of his victims, my parents locked me down. I was 5'5" tall with long brown hair, pierced ears, and I wore blue jeans. Everything I wore then told my parents to limit my life.

"There are so many questions in my heart about what may have happened to Dawn. I am sure I now know why I shared this with you. It is because I am now fifty-eight years old, the same age my second grade friend would be, and we still don't have answers about her death. I miss her so much.

"As grade school children, we had no fear and no worries. I will miss Dawn always. I will never forget the time when Ypsilanti lost its innocence and evil knocked on our doorsteps. My parents were terrified, as was the entire community. I so appreciate your mission to seek the truth. Thank you."