In preparation for this evening’s interview with Gregory A. Fournier about his new book, Terror in Ypsilanti, I’ve been reading as much as I can about the case of EMU student turned serial killer John Norman Collins. And, last night, as I starting thinking about all the locations in town that are associated with the series of murders, which started in July of ’67, and continued until July of ’69, it struck me that the AM 1700 studio, where I’ll be talking with Fournier, is just feet away from the spot where 18-year-old EMU student Karen Sue Beineman, Collins’ final victim, was last seen alive, and where everything began to unravel for the undergraduate killer… Here’s a photo of Wigs by Joan, the store that had been at 18 1/2 North Washington Street, outside of which Beineman was seen driving away with Collins on his motorcycle.
Here, to give you some context, is a relevant clip from Fournier’s book.
…The motorcyclist swooped into a parking space in front of the Chocolate Shoppe next to Wigs by Joan. He parallel parked and offered to take Karen back to her dormitory aren climbed off the bike and walked into the wig shop to pick up her hairpiece. The shop owner, Diana Joan Goshe and her wig stylist, Patricia Spaulding, were on hand to show Karen how to wear her hairpiece. As an aside, Karen mentioned she had done two foolish things that day-buying a hairpiece and accepting a motorcycle ride from a stranger.
Hearing this made the hair on the back of the women’s necks stand on end. By this time, everybody in Ypsilanti was on alert, especially women. They young coed standing before them fit the victim profile released by local law enforcement. She was a petite white female with brown hair… Their maternal instincts warned them something was not right about he young man waiting for the girls’ return. Joan Goshe stepped outside her shop and took a good look at the person. When he noticed her, the motorcyclist lowered his head and tilted his face away. Goshe went inside her shop and cautioned Karen not to get back on the motorcycle.
Maybe it’s not really that odd, given how small of a town this is, and how many places here are linked in some way or another to Collins, but I find it incredibly creepy that, as I’m talking with Fournier this evening, we’ll be looking out on that very spot where the so-called Michigan Murderer not only picked up his last victim, but also made the mistake of being seen, leading to his arrest shortly thereafter.
Tune in tonight at 5:00, if you’re interested in hearing more about the events that unfolded outside of Wigs by Joan, and how, thanks to the incredible police work of young EMU patrol officer Larry Mathewson, Collins was finally identified as a suspect. Details on how to listen can be found here.
[Collins, for what it’s worth, refuted the claims of the wig store employees in an 1988 episode of Kelly & Company.]