Tuesday, March 20, 2018

More Ypsilanti, Michigan Hidden History Revealed--the Richard Streicher, Jr. Murder

Bill Kurtis and Company

A CBS interview opportunity for Through the Decades with Bill Kurtis--about the John Norman Collins murders--brought me to Southern Michigan last week. Just as I thought interest was dying down after a year and a half on the market, Terror In Ypsilanti still has some legs. This interview segment is scheduled to air sometime in August. The national exposure is welcomed.

While in Ypsilanti, I was pleased to discover that NPR/WEMU producer Patrick Campion won an "Excellence in Broadcasting Award" from the Michigan Broadcasters Association for his radio feature "Hidden in Plain Sight--John Norman Collins." Patrick interviewed me while we went to several of the key locations in Collins's killing spree. Patrick did a fine job. There is a link to the program at the end of this post.

Museum and Archives
I went to the Ypsilanti Historical Society (YHS) to get the go ahead to publish the true crime story of one of Ypsilanti's most disturbing events--the Depression-era murder of seven-year-old Richard Streicher, Jr. found stabbed and frozen to death beneath the Frog Island Footbridge in Depot Town. The unfortunate boy's 1935 murder was investigated by Ypsilanti and State Police over a two-year period. Although townspeople and police were in general agreement who the guilty party was, investigators were not able to make a direct connection to bring charges. Richie Streicher, Jr.'s body was buried in an unmarked grave in Highland Cemetery over eighty years ago and his murder fell into obscurity.

Beginning in 2007, YHS docents George Ridenour and Lyle McDermott began collecting any documentation they could find. Responding to their Freedom of Information Act request, Michigan State Police produced 1,100 documents related to this case, some more revealing than others. A number of relevant documents was clearly missing, but there was enough factual information to recreate the history and the atmosphere of the era.

In 2011, George and Lyle interviewed Richie's last living classmates who remembered him. They were in their mid-eighties. These several interviews were the living history materials George and Lyle were able to collect. It was George's intention to write a book telling this piece of Ypsi's hidden history, but his failing health overtook him in 2016.

George helped me with local research on serial killer John Norman Collins for my Terror In Ypsilanti true crime book which was most helpful. When Lyle McDermott asked if I would be interested in taking on George's project, I was honored to take on the challenge of making his vision a reality. It took me two years to puzzle the pieces of this tragedy together and to begin the publication process, but this summer, The Richard Streicher, Jr. Murder--Ypsilanti's Depot Town Mystery--should be available for purchase.

In 2016, a fundraiser was held to purchase a headstone to mark Richie Streicher's gravesite.
When I return to the Detroit area in mid-July for Bookfest 2018 at the Eastern Market, I hope to schedule a couple of Ypsi speaking engagements to discuss the project and promote the book locally.

Initially, the paperback will be available from Amazon, the YHS Archives on N. Huron Street, and at my book talks. The ebook will be available in Kindle, Nook, iPad, Google, and KOBO formats.

Link to NPR/WEMU's Hidden in Plain Sight John Norman Collins interview:

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