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Ypsilanti, Michigan: Eight young women are brutally killed in a college town… and the term “serial killer” enters our vocabulary.

Where are they now?

John Norman Collins was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. Now in his late 60's, he is serving his sentence in Michigan's Marquette Branch Prison in the Upper Peninsula. Collins applied numerous times to be transferred to a Canadian prison. The requests were all denied.

In January of 1980, Collins had an unexpected return to Ann Arbor when he was admitted to the University of Michigan Hospital for a fractured skull. The incident occurred while Collins was at Marquette and fell on the ice while taking part in an exercise period. He was flown by air ambulance to the University Hospital. He eventually recovered and was returned to prison.

In the early 1980s, he legally changed his last name to Chapman. Although this was his mother's maiden name, sources who knew the convicted killer said it was his desire to be associated in the public's mind with another murderer – Mark David Chapman – that led to his name change.

What the episode didn't tell you

In September 1969 John Norman Collins posed shirtless for Tomorrow's Man, a men’s “fitness” magazine which brandished the motto: “Hunks in Trunks.” He used the name Bill Kenyon.

Convicted of just one murder, Collins is not technically a “serial killer.” To be a serial killer, according to accepted understanding, one must have been convicted of killing three or more people.

In July 1969, Dutch psychic Peter Hurkos arrived in Michigan to help with the case. Hurkos variously described the killer as a troubled genius, an uneducated vagrant, a transvestite, a member of a cult, and a drug-crazed hippie. All of his “leads” led police to dead ends, and Hurkos left town after a week.

According to an online history exhibit on the Ann Arbor Police Department's website, when Collins was sentenced to life in prison in August of 1970, he stated, “I never knew a girl named Karen Sue Beineman. I never took the life of Karen Sue Beineman.” Those were the only words that he ever uttered publicly about the murder up to that time.

Backdrop of an era

  • Car registration fees in Michigan were $2
  • The Beatles released the legendary Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band which would be number one on the charts through the summer of 1967
  • Members of the feminist group New York Radical Women arrive in Atlantic City to protest The Miss America Pageant, as exploitative of women. It is one of the first large demonstrations of Second Wave Feminism as Women's Liberation begins to gather much media attention.
  • Rolling Stone magazine debuted its first edition

From The Headlines

“Collins Is Found Guilty… ”

“A handsome, husky resident of [a] Detroit suburb … is charged with first-degree murder… ”

Used with permission of The Associated Press © 2013. All rights reserved.

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