Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Rainy Day Murders Preparing for the Next Hurdle - Representation

Photo courtesy of Nicole C. Fribourg

I am finally at a point with my true crime project The Rainy Day Murders when it is time to get outside people involved. Getting this book ready for publication has been essentially a two person operation. For over the last three years, Ryan M. Place of Detroit has tirelessly researched the Washtenaw County murders (July 1967 - July 1969) of seven young women and the person accused of killing them, John Norman Collins.

Together, we have gone through thousands of pages of vintage government documents and newspaper clippings from the era, searched various archives in the towns of Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor where these events occurred, and conducted countless interviews with people who have first-hand knowledge of this case and/or the people involved with it.

Assembling these disparate elements has been akin to aligning a Rubic's Cube with some of the colored decals missing. Without the candid cooperation of the offender and the release of all government documents connected with these cases, the full facts will never be known. Still, by repeatedly invoking the Freedom of Information Act, Ryan and I have pieced together enough of the puzzle to reveal a gestalt of evidence and circumstance that goes far beyond the purview of random coincidence and lays the burden of guilt squarely at Collins' feet.
Originally, the working title for this project was In the Shadow of the Water Tower. I changed it in favor of The Rainy Day Murders (RDM), so as not to besmirch the city of Ypsilanti's beloved landmark which played no part in any of the murders. The sum total of the information we have compiled has been reduced to 645 pages of hard-wrought manuscript. During my latest rewrite and revision, it became clear to me that I really had two books worth of material, not only because of length considerations, but also because of thematic focus.

Ryan M. Place
The original scope of the project was to fill a void in the historical account of the Washtenaw County murders and restore the identities of the victims that have been obscured by time and a couple of misguided treatments of this subject matter. I have the benefit of over forty-five years of hindsight which those authors didn't have.

But new material started coming to us from the Michigan
Department of Corrections (MDOC) which goes behind prison walls and tells the story of John Norman Collins' years as MDOC inmate #126833. That story looks into his prison record, his escape attempts, Collins' many court appeals, California's extradition efforts, both Canadian treaty transfer attempts, his media manipulations, and a survey of some of John's prison letters which reveal his present life behind bars.

This story is still unfolding, but its climax will be John Norman Collins' fantasy defense in the Karen Sue Beineman murder case. It is quite amazing and lays bare the interior workings of his mind feigning the inability to separate fact from fiction.

My writing instincts tell me that the focus of the first book should be the crimes, the victims, the living history, and the facts as they stand or fall in the Karen Sue Beineman trial. That book comes in at 495 pages without supplemental material.

The second book has its focus on John Norman Collins since his conviction. It doesn't seem appropriate to include material about his life in prison in a book about his crimes against seven innocent, defenseless women whose fatal flaw was not recognizing danger until it was too late. As it currently stands, this second book is still in development. It is 150 pages long and has the working title of The Ypsi Ripper.