Monday, July 21, 2014

Coed Killer Composite Drawings and John Norman Collins

Shortly before midnight on July 23rd, 1969, another young woman from Eastern Michigan University was reported missing. Her dormitory resident adviser Verna (Ma) Carson called the EMU Campus Police and told the desk clerk on duty that eighteen year old freshman coed Karen Sue Beineman was last known to have been walking alone to Wigs by Joan in downtown Ypsilanti.

She left the dorm at about 12:20 PM after eating a small lunch with her roommates in the Downing Hall Dining Commons. Then she headed south across campus and strolled down Ballard St. to pick up and pay for a wig she had ordered the day before. The wig shop was less than a mile's walk, and it was a bright, sunny afternoon.

The next morning, two Ypsilanti City Police officers went to Wigs by Joan to interview the owner, Diana Joan Goshe, and her wig stylist, Patricia Spaulding. It was from their initial description that a composite drawing was made by a Ypsilanti Police artist. Both women agreed that "Yes" Karen Sue Beineman had been in their shop shortly after 12:30 PM. They remember the young lady because of something she said, "I've only done two foolish things in my life - buy this wig and accept a ride from a stranger on a motorcycle."

The hair on the back of their necks went up when they heard Miss Beineman say those words. Despite every effort of Washtenaw County law enforcement to discover the identity of the serial killer who they suspected had killed seven young women in the area, police were literally and figuratively clueless. The shop ladies tried to dissuade the young woman from getting back on the motorcycle. Mrs. Goshe even offered to drive Karen Sue back to her dorm, but Miss Beineman did not want to put the ladies to any bother.

While Karen paid for the wiglet and was shown how to wear it in her hair by Patricia Spaulding, Mrs. Goshe walked outside of her shop and squarely took a look at the handsome young man on the shiny motorcycle. He was parked only two car lengths away from the front of her shop, no more than thirty feet away. Goshe went back into her shop and again urged Karen not to get back on the motorcycle but to no avail. Karen left the shop, and after a brief conversation with the driver, hopped back onto the motorcycle and sped off.

The next day, the wig shop ladies gave the investigators the following description of the young man which was wired to every newspaper in the state of Michigan. The Ann Arbor News ran the description of the suspect, "a white male, about 22 years old, six feet tall with dark brown hair. The hair is curly in the front and extends down on the forehead and cut short with short sideburns. The suspect, of thin to medium build, wore a T-shirt with wide green and yellow horizontal stripes."

A composite sketch was drawn from that description and released to the press by the Ypsilanti City Police. Within days of Karen's disappearance, the Beineman family had four thousand handbills printed and distributed on the campuses of Eastern Michigan University and the University of Michigan. Of the seven unsolved murders in the area within the last two years, three were students from EMU and two were from U of M.

Looking over the newest composite drawing, an EMU official noted the similarity between sketches of a suspect in the death of Joan Schell a year earlier, drawn by an Ann Arbor police artist. The suspect in that case was previously described as "five feet, eight inches tall, about 20 years old with dark brown hair, and wearing a dark green Eastern Michigan University T-shirt." On Friday, July 25, the Ann Arbor News publicly noted the similarity and the fact that Miss Beineman's body was found in Ann Arbor Township, and Miss Schell's body was found on the outskirts of Ann Arbor.


Tony Hale was a sixteen year old Ypsilanti High School student who participated in Eastern Michigan's Upward Bound program on the EMU campus in July of 1969. Summer session dorm residents were required to attend a meeting where the handbills were distributed and young women were urged to carry them in their purses.

Some of the girls in the Upward Bound program were from the Warren/Center Line area where John Norman Collins was raised, so he would hang out in the lounge of Goddard Hall dormitory and mingle with the girls. Tony and her roommate Linda got to know Collins, and Linda took a couple of rides on his motorcycle and dated him. On one date, she reported that they went to his room to watch color TV, and he tried to get her skirt off.

"I could force you," he told her.

But the teenager replied, "But that wouldn't be good," and he relented.

Linda told a Detroit News reporter after Collins was arrested on July 31st that only two days before, she and Tony saw him riding his motorcycle on campus. Linda shouted out to him while waving the handbill, "Hey, John. You look like the picture," referring to the composite drawing of the suspected killer.

"You look like the other picture," he shouted back, referring to the photograph of Karen Sue Beineman on the handbill.


On July 30th, the day before Collins was arrested on suspicion of murdering Karen Sue Beineman, the Washtenaw County Sheriff released a more detailed, color composite drawing to the press from the description given by two wig shop ladies. This drawing was done in pastels but it came out after the handbill. The Detroit News ran the latest drawing with a psychological description of the probable murderer worked up by U of M psychiatrist, Dr. Donald J. Holmes.

"He is taunting authorities thumbing his nose at them, mocking them, daring them. Whatever else he may be, the killer is a very arrogant character. This taunting feeds his ego and supports his sense of omnipotence. He gets the idea that he is controlling the authorities."

Law enforcement was closing in on John Norman Collins. He was arrested late Thursday night, July 31st when Sheriff Douglas Harvey brought murder charges against him. Collins would sit in the Washtenaw County jail for over a year until his case came to trial where he was found guilty.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Montreal's Canadian Expo 67, a Souvenir Medallion Necklace, and John Norman Collins

Remembered as a source of Canadian national pride, the Montreal Exposition 67 was Canada's first world's fair. It also marked its centennial year as a confederation. The exposition's motto was "Man and His World/Terre Des Hommes." Expo 67 became known as one of the most successful world's fairs of the twentieth century but not without overcoming many obstacles.

First, the Soviets were awarded the fair by the Bureau International des Expositions (BIA) on May 5, 1960. The Cold War was heating up and Moscow cited financial and security concerns, bowing out as the host country in April 1962. Six months later on November 13, the BIA changed the location of the World Exhibition to Canada. Despite an Ottawa government report showing the likely failure of such a project, Montreal Mayor Jean Drapeau convinced lawmakers that it was possible to prepare for the expo and have its grounds ready for the scheduled opening day.

It was Drapeau's idea to create two new islands in the St. Lawrence River and enlarge the existing Ile Sainte-Helene. The result would prevent wholesale land speculation which could rock the Montreal economy if the exposition was built on the northern reaches of the city as others had advised. The mayor's plan seemed far fetched at first, but it started to make more sense the closer Canadian ministers took a look at it. 

United States Pavilion - Buckminster Fuller's geodesic dome.
Montreal was already in the midst of a huge public works project, the expansion of their Metro system. The rubble and excavations from that project would become back fill for the man-made islands. The first batch of twenty-five million cubic tons needed to create the islands was ceremoniously dropped on August 13, 1963.

Working around the clock, a legion of dump truck drivers and heavy equipment operators finished the job on time. The newly graded grounds were turned over to the Expo 67 Corporation by the City of Montreal on June 20, 1964. This left 1,042 days to have everything else built and functioning by opening day on April 27, 1967.

Expo 67 was politically and culturally seen as a landmark moment in Canadian history. In the six months it was open, the official attendance tally was 50,306,648 despite a thirty day transit strike in September. The exposition set the single-day attendance record for a world's fair of 569,500 visitors on its third day.

The Canadian Exposition was projected to have a deficit shared by the federal, provincial, and municipal governments, but the exposition performed better financially than expected. In 1967 Canadian dollars, Expo 67 took in revenues of $221,239,872 with costs of $431,904,683. That left a deficit of $210,664,811 for the Canadian taxpayers to pick up. In return, Montreal got some new public land and improved infrastructure, and Canada received unprecedented global media exposure, a boost in international prestige, and a feeling of national pride for a job well-done.


Nineteen year old Mary Terese Fleszar convinced her parents to allow her to drive the family station wagon to the Montreal Expo 67 with her sister and two friends. Mary had planned out the trip in great detail. She knew how far Montreal was from Willis, Michigan, how much gasoline it would take to get there, and all the costs they might likely incur. Her mother and father had confidence in Mary's judgement and wished the girls well as they left on Thursday, June 1. Mary had even planned to beat the weekend traffic.

While on their visit, Mary purchased an Expo 67 medallion necklace with the logo of the exposition on it. The logo for the exposition was designed by Montreal artist Julien Hebert. The basic unit of the design was a pictogram of two "ancient men" linked together in friendship. This basic icon is repeated in a circular fashion eight times representing "friendship around the world."

If the viewer looks carefully at the symbol to the right, an M for Montreal can be seen in each icon. The rest of the icon looks like a W, perhaps representing the World. The fair's logo did not enjoy unanimous support from Canadians who felt it was too vague and cryptic. The design didn't include the name of the event or any reference to Canada or Montreal. But a nationwide contest was held by a group of Canadian intellectuals, and they choose Hebert's design.

After Mary Fleszar's return from her successful excursion to Canada, she sublet an apartment in Ypsilanti to be near her job at Eastern Michigan University. At about 9:00 PM on July 9th, Mary was last seen taking an evening walk by two people sitting on their front porch. The man and woman reported to police that she had been harassed twice on Ballard St. by someone driving a blue-grey Chevy. She waved the guy off a second time and then turned the corner on Washtenaw Ave leading to her apartment building. She was never seen alive again.

Mary's family believes she was abducted from the parking lot in front of her apartment building. One month later, her body was found by two teenagers among the weeds near the barn of an abandoned farm on Geddes Rd, one-third of a mile from LeForge Rd.

Early in the investigation, police asked Mrs. Fleszar to take an inventory of Mary's things to see if anything was missing from her apartment. Mary's purse and wallet were there, but her keys were missing and her light-blue Comet automobile was parked across the lot from Mary's assigned spot. Mrs. Fleszar thought that was very odd.

Mr. Fleszar removed the ignition switch for evidence before selling the car in case a set of matching keys was ever recovered. The front door lock to Mary's apartment was also removed and turned over to police as potential evidence for the same reason.

In addition to her keys, there was one other missing item. The Montreal Expo 67 medallion necklace Mary had purchased at the fair a month earlier. It was conspicuous by its absence. As a piece of jewelry, it had no value beyond a keepsake souvenir.

Two years later, after John Norman Collins was arrested for the sex-slaying of Karen Sue Beineman on July 31, 1969, Michigan State Police had probable cause to obtain a bench warrant to search his room. Found on top of his dresser was an Expo 67 medallion necklace that was entered as evidence with about one hundred other items collected by police from Collins' room and Oldsmobile Cutlass.

Items not directly related to the Beineman case were returned to the Collins family. The only item they refused to accept on John's instructions was the Expo 67 medallion. Collins denied owning or having any knowledge of the medallion and accused the police of planting it as evidence against him. The necklace was placed in an envelope and stored in an evidence vault in East Lansing, Michigan where it presumably lies today.

For more information about Expo 67, check out the following link:

Saturday, July 5, 2014

John Norman Collins Associate - Andrew Julian Manuel, Jr.

Andrew Manuel's Arraignment in Ypsilanti.
It wasn't until Andrew Julian Manuel helped John Norman Collins fraudulently rent a seventeen foot house trailer in June of 1969 that his association with Collins made Andrew Manuel a person of interest to Michigan State Police.

Seventeen year old Oregon resident Roxie Ann Phillips was murdered while visiting Salinas, California. The prime suspect was someone named John, last name not known, who drove a silver colored car and was studying to be a teacher. He and a friend had driven a house trailer out from Michigan.

A search by the Salinas police found the abandoned trailer parked in the alley behind the home of Silver Manuel, Andrew's grandfather. Police soon learned that it was reported stolen from Michigan.

With only sandals on her feet and strangled with her own belt, Roxie's nude body was found at the bottom of Pescadaro Canyon in Monterey, California on Sunday, July 13, 1969 only two weeks after she was reported missing. Several weeks after that, a Salinas detective familiar with the Phillips case, sat down to his evening meal and turned on the national news. A university student, John Norman Collins, had been arrested for the murder of Karen Sue Beineman in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Miss Beineman's nude and strangled body, wearing only sandals, was found in neighboring Ann Arbor at the bottom of a gully off Huron River Dr.

The similarities between the two cases were striking and a call was placed to the Michigan State Police. Michigan sent two State Police detectives and a forensic crime lab specialist to California to share information they had on Collins. A Monterey County grand jury was looking into the particulars of the case of Roxie Ann Phillips.

Before John Collins and Andy Manuel left for California, they told their landlady that they would be in California for two months picking fruit. They asked that she hold their rooms for them. When they returned early from their California trip a few weeks later, she was surprised. Then Manuel fled Ypsilanti again on Saturday, July 26, 1969, the day Karen Sue Beineman's body was found.

A nationwide FBI search was instituted for Andrew Manuel on a fugitive from justice federal warrant. He was charged with larceny by conversion when he and Collins fraudulently rented the house trailer in Ypsilanti, Michigan with a forged, stolen check. The trailer was found abandoned in Salinas, California. By the time the FBI went looking for Manuel, Collins was already in Washtenaw County police custody for the Beineman murder.

The subsequent police investigation revealed that Andrew Julian Manuel was born in Salinas on May 13, 1944. He was described as twenty-five years old, 6'1" tall and weighing 235#. He was dark complected with dark hair and eyes, and he had a tattoo of an eagle on his left forearm. Initially, Manuel was described as Mexican-American, but soon he was found to be Filipino-American.

Manuel moved to Michigan around 1965, taking a job at the Ford Motor Company in the Detroit area. Over the summer of 1968, he worked at Bond Warehouse before moving to Ypsilanti in September. There he took a job in the machine department at Motor Wheel Corporation where he met John Collins, a twenty-two year old Eastern Michigan University student who had worked part-time there since August.

507 East Michigan Ave, Ypsilanti.
In August 8, 1969, Sheriff Douglas Harvey revealed to The Detroit News that Andrew Manuel had sold three guns, one shotgun and two rifles, to the owner of the Roy's Squeeze Inn on East Michigan Avenue, on the same day Miss Beineman's body was discovered in Ann Arbor. When Manuel's connection to Collins became known to the buyer of the stolen guns, he came forward with what he knew and turned the guns over to the police.

These were three of the four guns Collins was known to have owned. The sheriff showed the guns to Collins, who said they were his property and that Manuel must have stolen them from his room on Emmet St. So much for honor among thieves.

Sheriff Harvey's informant said he bought the guns from Manuel for $100, then he drove him to the Ann Arbor bus station where Manuel said he was going to California. Andy Manuel had offered to sell him a .22 caliber pistol, but he declined to buy it. The pistol has never been accounted for, said Harvey.

Andrew J. Manuel in FBI custody in Phoenix.
On a tip, FBI agents in Phoenix, Arizona seized twenty-five year old Andrew Manuel and arrested him on a fugitive warrant from Michigan on Wednesday, August 6, 1969. Manuel was arraigned before a U.S. District Commissioner in Phoenix shortly after he was arrested at his sister-in-laws apartment. A $10,000 bond was set and Manuel was taken to the federal detention center at Florence, Arizona to await his hearing.

It was reported in The Detroit News on Friday, August 8th, that Mrs. Ernestina Masters, Manuel's sister-in-law, said she would cooperate with authorities in any way possible. Manuel had stayed at her apartment with her and her roommate since the previous Saturday night. Manuel had called Ernestina from California and asked for some money. She sent him $50, and he traveled by bus to her Phoenix apartment.

"He was scared and afraid he would be sent to jail for something he didn't do," she said. "Manuel claimed that he knew Collins for only six months and was surprised and shocked when he learned of the murder charge against him."

Andrew Manuel was extradited to Michigan and convicted on the fraud and a burglary charge on November 17, 1969. He was in possession of a stolen diamond ring appraised at about $450 from a ransack burglary on March 14th, 1969 in Ypsilanti. Manuel pleaded guilty on the possession of stolen property charge. When District Judge William F. Ager, Jr. asked Manuel where he got the ring, he rolled over on his buddy and said, "John Collins." On the fraud charge, Manuel told the court that Collins had signed for the trailer, but he was with him and knew the trailer would not be returned.

Judge Ager gave Andrew Manuel the same sentence for both counts, five years probation, a $50 fine, and $300 in court costs. Additionally, the judge ordered Manuel to pay up to $1,500 restitution to Hendrickson Trailer Sales in Ypsilanti. Andrew's wife Betty Sue and his mother from Salinas attended the court proceeding. It was Manuel's mother who paid his fees and fines for him.

After the trial, Ann Arbor Police Chief Walter Krasny was quick to report to the press that no link had been established between Andrew Manuel and the other unsolved slayings in Washtenaw County. Chief Assistant Prosecutor Booker T. Williams made a point at the end of Manuel's trial to mention that there was no evidence to connect Manuel with the other Michigan murders.

Even after given immunity to testify against John Norman Collins, Manuel tried to skip out on his probation, was recaptured, and sent to the Washtenaw County Jail to serve out his term. When he was finally forced to testify against his associate in the Collins' trial, he had little to offer prosecutors in the way of evidence.

Finding any information on Andrew Julian Manuel has been almost as difficult as locating him. After lots of effort and false leads, Ryan M. Place was finally able to locate him in Yuma, Arizona. Andrew Julian Manuel died taking his secrets to the grave on Saturday, February 19, 2011, only three months shy of his sixty-seventh birthday.