A Crime to Remember (2013–…): Season 1, Episode 5 - A New Kind of Monster - full transcript

Michigan, 1967. A young co-ed from Eastern Michigan State University goes missing. Her body is found months later, rotting in a field. A year later, another co-ed, disappears and is found stabbed to death. A few months after that, a young law student is found shot and strangled in an Ypsilanti cemetery. The young women of Southeastern Michigan are terrified and the police commence a massive hunt for the monster they call The Co-Ed Killer.

Woman: In 1967,
a monster came into my life.

In the years to come,
we'd meet more like him.

Names you'd recognize --

Gacy, Bundy, Dahmer.

But back then,
in a Michigan college town?

No one could imagine
that such a beast could exist.

For years, he'd stay a phantom.

His only mark --
a trail of dead girls.

[ Engine turns over ]

And this, right here --
just the beginning.

I know most people
get nostalgic

about their college years.

I get it.
It's a time when you're young.

Anything is possible,
and for most people,

nothing really bad
has happened yet.

But I'm different.

I had a friend in college

to whom
something terrible happened --

something hideous.

And after that,
life was never the same.

[ Camera shutter clicking ]

Ramsland: The first body was
found by friends of my brothers.

They had heard a car door slam,

which is what drew them
to the area,

and then saw this --

you know, the car drove away.

They didn't get
a good look at it,

but they smelled something.

They immediately went running

for the Ypsilanti Police
to tell them.

What those boys found
was unrecognizable.

They weren't sure at first
if it was even human

until they saw an ear.

The feet are missing,
a hand is missing,

the head is all mushed up.

Link: They call
the medical examiner.

Wow. This is a mess.

They weren't
absolutely positive,

but it looked like
she had been stabbed.

But not only stabbed --
stabbed multiple times.

Fournier: Major decomposition.

They called the crime lab in,

did not find anything
in the way of clues

other than the body itself.

Ramsland: In 1967,
they really wouldn't have had

a lot of sense
of forensic science.

You know,
obviously fingerprints,

but not much else.

They look all through the area,

and there should have been a lot
of blood, and there wasn't,

so they know the woman
has been killed somewhere else

and moved to this scene.

It was the deliberateness of it
that was alarming.

It meant that somebody
had planned this.

If it was an accident,
they could have handled it,

but it wasn't an accident.

They found an orange dress

with white polka dots.

It's kind of torn
down the middle.

The dress --

that orange-and-white
polka-dot dress.

I remember
when it was brand new.

So, what do you think?

This one
or the orange one?

Now, that's Mary.
She was my friend.

We met at that very beginning
of freshman year.

It's so short, though.

No, it's not, it's fine.

She hadn't wanted
to buy that dress,

but I convinced her to.

I thought it made her
look like twiggy.

Mary Fleszar was 19.

A very studious girl --

she got a four-year scholarship
to E.M.U.

She was from a tight-knit
Polish-German family.

Link: She was not known
to be a partier.

Faye Dunaway?

Fournier: This was her first
experience away from home,

it had only been
less than a month.

They're just
a little too high.

Why would you wear something
with that much heel?

And I certainly don't
think of her

as living any kind
of a high-risk lifestyle.

Decades have passed
since that day.

Look, you can see
my whole knee!

It looks fine!

And I still think about

all the things
that I could have done

that would've changed
what happened.

McNamara: When she's first
reported missing,

her family and friends
know this is

really out of character for her.

But the police, you know --

this is 1967,
this is a college student,

it's the summer.

Kids went missing all the time,

and they always turned up --

they ended up going
to a friend's house,

they hitchhiked
a ride across town,

they stayed late to a party.

So when Mary's roommate
reported her missing,

nobody really
thought a lot about it.

McNamara: So, it stays just
a pure missing-persons case

for almost a month,

until her body's found.

They knew the body in the field
was Mary

because of her teeth.

It was the only thing
left of her

that wasn't destroyed.

Harvey: We needed some clues,
which there was none,

other than we found a body.

Where was she last seen?
Who's seen her?

The amazing thing was
a few people had seen Mary.

Right before she disappeared,
they noticed her.

Maybe it was that dress.

Man: Hey, there!
You need a ride?

Oh, no. It's okay.

Link: She was walking around
her neighborhood,

and people reported
seeing a blue-and-gray car

pull up
to the side of the road,

and she walked to the window
and talked to someone inside.

She shook her head "No",
and went walking on.

Well, he took his car

and went around the block
and came back.

And Mary seems to be saying,
"No, thank you. No, thank you."

I'm sorry!
[ Engine revs ]

He hit the gas and took off.

This was the last that
the witness had seen of her.

Ramsland: The first thing
the police did was

to find out
if she had any boyfriends,

if she had
any problems with anybody.

They asked all of us --
all of her friends.

I kept wondering
what they meant.

She was nice, sweet Mary.

What kind of problem
could she have had

that made someone
want to kill her?

Hi. It's me.

She had been dating somebody
that nobody really knew.

Yes, I'm sure.

So, what do I do?

She had gone to a doctor

and was worried
that she was pregnant.

It's true --

the part about
her being worried.

We all worried about that.

Getting pregnant
was the worst thing

any of us could imagine
happening back then.

They thought whoever
the father of this child was

might have been the perpetrator.

They asked me
about the boyfriend,

and I told them the truth.

She had been seeing a boy,

but none of us
had ever met him.

We didn't even know his name.

So, after she died,
there was no way to find him,

or even know if he'd run.

Link: Police are at a loss.

Ramsland: And, at the autopsy,

they find out
she wasn't pregnant,

and they had all these
kind of vague rumors

and no clear leads.

Then, prior to the funeral,

extremely odd happened.

Excuse me, sir.
Can I help you?

Somebody showed up and asked
if he would open the casket

so he could take a photograph.

Well, of course, they said,

"No, you can't
take a picture of the body."

Link: And the person
who was there was so overwhelmed

that he didn't even get
a description of him.

They wondered if this was
the killer coming back

to take some sort of
gruesome souvenir picture.

Fournier: He turned around,
went out to his car...

...a dark-blue-color car.

The police went out,

and anybody who had a car
that remotely matched that --

they interviewed at least
a half a dozen people.

We were hoping that, you know,
we could come up with something.

And every one of those cars

checked out to be clean.

It wasn't fair.

I didn't understand it.

This awful thing had happened,

and whoever had done it
had gotten away with it.

The police wanted to believe

that a transient
had come through,

had picked up the girl,
accosted her in some way --

that this was
an isolated incident

and he's gone
and our problem is solved.

They could believe
what they wanted,

but the problem wasn't solved.

It was just beginning.

The monster
liked what he'd done,

and he was gonna
come back for more.

[ Car horn honks ]

Woman: It had been almost a year
since Mary was murdered.

Whoever had done it
had gotten away with it,

and it seemed like
everyone had just moved on.

And then, 20 miles away,
another girl was found dead.

Her name was Joan,

and she reminded me
a lot of Mary.

Fournier: Joan Schell was found
at a construction site.

She had a bunch
of puncture wounds

in her upper chest area,

and she had three in the back.

Link: And it looked like
she had been raped.

The police were perplexed.

There were no clues whatsoever.

Joan was Mary's age.

She went to E.M.U., like Mary,

and she had long, brown hair,
like Mary,

but there was
another similarity, too.

This was not
where she had been killed.

She had been moved there.

♪ Girl, tell me no lies ♪

♪ Where did you sleep
last night? ♪

♪ In the pines, in the pines ♪

♪ Where the sun never shines ♪

♪ to shiver
the whole night through ♪

Joan was going from Ypsi

to Ann Arbor
to see her boyfriend.

Link: A friend of hers
walked her to the bus stop.

They stood there
and they waited for the bus.

But the bus never came.

[ Car horn honks ]

Hey, there.

But what does show up is a car
with three men inside.

We're headed that way, too.
You need a ride?


Okay, hold on one second.

Okay, these guys are going
in the same direction.

No, we'll just wait
for the bus.

The bus is not coming.

Yes, it will come.

I'm going.

[ Sighs ]
Please be careful.



Fournier: So she gets in the car
and takes off.

Well, she never got there.


The police have a solid clue.

Joan Schell got into the car
with three young men,

one of them wearing

an Eastern Michigan University

So, the police start
questioning every male

that they feel
is within a certain profile.

I, myself, was even
interviewed by the police.

[ Door hinges squeak ]

[ Door closes ]

How are you today?
All right.

You drive a red car?

I don't even own a car.

Where were you at?

My Uncle's a cop.

He can vouch for me.

Did you pick her up?


How do you know Joan Schell?

I don't know her.

But no one had
any information --

not a single one
of those E.M.U. Boys

said that they knew anything
about Joan Schell.

And so they talked
to her friends,

they talked to her family.

She had this boyfriend

that her family
was not super fond of.

They thought it was
like a little bit

of an obsessive, young romance.

You know why you're here today,
Mr. Schultz?

Because I'm AWOL.

Anything else?

And Joan?

Dale was AWOL from the military.

The police found him three days
after they found Joan's body.

He had been looking for her
himself, he said.

Do you know where the last place
you saw her was?

She was at my house
three weeks ago.

What are you talking about?

He was interrogated and given
several polygraph tests.

What if I told you
we found a body?

McNamara: When they told him
Joan was dead,

he was described as kind of
just dissolving into tears.

Very quickly they realized
that he was not responsible.

This point, it was
a complete and utter mystery

what was going on.

We have two students
around the same age,

but nobody at that point

is doing any kind of
linkage analysis.

And the police officers

are not even aware
of each other's cases.

Joan is found in a completely
different jurisdiction

than Mary.

And the connection isn't made.

It's easy to look back now
and to criticize,

but the police were doing
everything they knew how to do.

They were going by the book.

The problem
was that the monster

was writing a new book
with different rules.

They did not really
have a category

for serial killer at the time.

McNamara: This was a
pre- "Silence of the Lambs" era.

The term "serial killer" had not
captured the public imagination.

Link: In March 1969,
a third murder victim...

A third jurisdiction...

A third set of new detectives.

Four days after that,
another body showed up.

We were up against a wall.

Like there was nothing --
nothing to go on.

We kept telling students,
"Don't hitchhike.

Please don't hitchhike.
Walk in pairs."

We have, like, this supernatural
creature in our midst

who can kill these girls
and not be seen.

Link: What is happening
to our daughters?

What is happening
to our babysitters,

our college students?

What is happening
to these young women?

Harvey: It was terrifying.

And then to add,
you know, fuel to the fire,

we had the public pressure.

We're police officers,
we're not miracle men,

and we can only work with
what we've got,

and when we get out
to a scene

and find nothing
but a dead body,

and then start working
from there,

it's just not that easy.

And we're afraid, you know,
we might be the next one.

You never know.

Now, we've got four young women,

all of whom
were either hitchhiking

or walking
or out alone in some way,

who now are dead.

And now,
they're beginning to say,

"This could be the same person."

Woman: But glimpsing
a pattern is one thing.

Being able to make out
the big picture is another.

And in 1969,
the police had no training,

no experience
that would prepare them

to make sense of what was
in front of them.

DNA testing was 20 years
ahead in the future.

Hair, fiber, blood evidence

was only good to a point.

There just wasn't the ability
to quickly exchange information.

If you wanted to go look
at someone else's evidence,

you had to get in a car,
go to the place,

sort through the box.

Harvey: As far as files went,
there was cards,

and it was put
into a file cabinet.

You know,
we didn't have the deal

where we could go
into a database.

They told themselves
my friend Mary's murder

would be the only one,

but now they knew
she was just the appetizer.

Now four girls were dead.

The monster had come
to Michigan 18 months ago,

and he'd taken up residence

But until the police
could find him,

he would make himself at home
and do what he pleased.

Woman: It was 1969,

but for me, it wouldn't be
the Summer of Love.

It was the Season of Death.

Four young coeds
had been murdered

in my Michigan college town.

And then there were five.

In March 1969,
another body turns up.

This time, it's a teenager.

Dawn Basom's body is found
by a man driving to work.

She's right
at the edge of the road
where anybody could see her.

So, it's pretty clear

that this person's
feeling pretty immune.

"I'm doing this exactly right,

and I can keep doing it
for as much as I want."

[ Siren wailing ]

Fournier: Sheriff Harvey's
the first one on the spot.

Harvey: We found her
beaten about the face.

There was slashes on her breast,
slashes on her stomach.

It's one thing to find a body
that was killed

because of a gunshot wound,

but the mutilation
of these bodies was just --

it was gruesome.

It was devastating
for all of us.

The girl was strangled with
a 37-inch length

of double-insulated
electrical cord.

I want you guys to go
up this road, both sides,

about a mile up.

Fournier: His men come in,

they call in
the State Police Crime Lab,

and they go to work.

And they go further and further
and further afield...

...until they come upon
an abandoned farmhouse.

The barn was 30x40 feet

and it had a basement.

Looks like we got
some blood.

Link: They also find
a piece of an electrical cord,

and it matches
the electrical cord

that was used to strangle Dawn.

So they were very, very sure
that, for the first time,

they had a murder site.

So finally, police have a place
that actually has evidence,

but it turns out
that this break in the case

lasts only two weeks.

[ Siren wailing ]

The house was set on fire --
burned it down.

Their only evidence
literally went up in smoke.

The papers said that the police
had been watching the farmhouse

from the moment
they discovered it,

and they couldn't figure out
who could've gotten past them.

And what they found
in the smoldering mess

was just chilling.

So, what do you make
of this?

Ramsland: Somebody had laid five
lilac blossoms on the driveway,

trying to say,
"I've gotten five now,

and here's some flowers
to designate each one."

The killer was taunting them

to just sort of play
this cat-and-mouse game.

You know that
last-straw feeling?

When you look back and you see

how completely out of control
things have gotten,

and you realize it's time
to grab the reins?

That was this.

I says, "No, we're not
gonna tolerate this."

[ Indistinct conversations ]

All right gentlemen.

Let's bring it down
a little bit, okay?

I know we've all
got stuff on our mind,
but it's not a social event.

We got to take care
of business here.

All right,
so the governor has seen fit

to set us up
with this little clubhouse,

and my intentions are
to make sure it works out.

Fournier: The police rented
a vacant seminary,

and that was
their command center.

We've got a lot of different
bits of information here,

a lot of different resources.

Fournier: And at that point,

went through that center.

So, we've got the four here

Most of them, as you said,

are closer
to the E.M.U. Campus.

We definitely have one now --
South Pioneer.

Now the police
are working in coordination

between the City Police,
the Sheriff's Department,

and the Michigan State Police.

Harvey: Each officer was
following different leads,

but they would come back,

and then they would
talk about it.

"Here's what we got."
"Here's what we found out."

"This looks significant."

But you know how it is
when you're young.

You think you're invincible.

Even as my friends and I
scared each other

with every new detail
we heard on the news,

we kept taking walks,
going on dates, being girls.

Karen Sue Beineman
was no different.

[ Sighs ]

Who knows about this?



Fournier: So, working with

all the different
police departments,

they come up with a theory

that criminals come back
to the scene of the crime.

There has been evidence

in a couple of the murders
that this has happened.

And they decide
this might be an opportunity

to trap the killer.

None of the officers are allowed
to talk about it on the radio.

They'd get
just a few police officers

to respond to the scene.

The man who found the body --

they swear him to silence
and to not tell anyone.

And they decide that they were

going to go to J.C. Penney
at the Arborland Mall...

You got it guys?
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

...and borrow a mannequin.

[ Crickets chirping ]

[ Owl hoots ]

We had our men staked out.

The State Police,
Sheriff Department --

we had them staked out
around the area.

There were seven or eight people
strategically placed.

[ Owl hoots ]

So around midnight or so,

a lone jogger
comes running down the street --

walked over to the body.

I see someone.

[ Garbled ]
Permission to move?

Come again?

Permission to move?

Permission to move?

I see someone.

[ Garbled ]
Permission to move?

Come again?

Permission to move?

There was no communication.

There was no chase car.
There was nothing.

And he disappeared.
He was nowhere.

This killer of six women

was just right
within their grasp,

and he got away.

The press printed the story.

Boy, they blasted us.

"The Keystone cops screw up."

It was terrible.

Woman: The police discovered
that the body in the gully

was Karen Sue Beineman,

an E.M.U. Student who had been
missing for four days.

She was last seen getting onto
a motorcycle with a young man.

So, I understand a young lady
came by your shop the other day.

Short brown hair,
very slim.

Yes, yes!
She's about 5'6".

Yes, she came in.

So, what do you think?

Woman: I think
it's a little dark.

Try this one.


Fournier: It's a lovely day.

Karen is walking
to pick up a wig

at a shop called Wigs by Joan.

I'll take it.

Wrap it up?
No, no, no.

I have somebody
waiting for me outside.

Making small talk
with the shop owner,

she says,
"I've done two things today

that I've never done before."

I'm buying this wig,

and I'm riding
on a motorcycle

with this guy
that I just met.

The two women in the shop --

their hair just went up
on the back of their necks.

You shouldn't get
on that motorcycle.

No, this guy --

he seems really nice,
believe me.

Did you happen to get
a good look at him?

I saw him over there.

And she got on
the motorcycle with him.

Both of the women
have pretty good memories,

and they remember
what he looked like.

Young, good-looking.

Not hippy-type -- well-groomed.

He doesn't at all look like
the fiend or the monster

that had started to live large
in the public's consciousness.

He just looked like
the boy next door.

He was the boy
in my Psych class.

He was the football player
down the hall.

He was the frat brother
who escorted me home at night.

He was everybody and nobody.

I thought, "How in God's name
are they gonna find him?"

[ Dog barking ]

McNamara: They're looking
through everyone in this area

who has a motorcycle,

who's a tall, dark-haired guy
around the same age.

They're going through
all of them.

I was with the Eastern Michigan
University Police Force,

and I had to get
the license plate numbers.

That was the directive --

to get everybody's
license plates.

Mathewson: Hiya.

How are you?
I'm Officer Mathewson.

I'm over
at the University.

Uh, sorry.

Any friends of yours
ride a bike

who happen to know
Karen Sue Beineman

by any chance?

No, uh, I don't know
who Karen Sue is.


Do you recognize this gentleman,
by any chance?

Nah, I don't know him.

Link: And, he says, "No,

I've been here all the time,
working on my bikes."

Mathewson: The one thing there

that really triggered
my thought process was

his plate was creased
underneath those two bolts,

as if you didn't want someone
to be able to read your plate,

you would pull it up
parallel to the ground.

What are you doing?

Oh, I'm just taking down
your license plate number.

And then it got, like,

"I think it's time to leave" --

that I've outstayed my welcome.

Ramsland: He thought
that the composite sketch

looked just like him.

I knew he was a student.

I've played inter-fraternity
sports against him.

I went to the fraternity house,

talked to a couple of guys there
that I knew,

and they told me his name.

Ramsland: So, he visited
a former girlfriend

and asked if she could
give him a picture.

So I had the picture,

and I knew that she was
at a wig shop.

Well, I'm not real sure.

I didn't see him
from the front like this.

Woman: That's him.

That's really him.

Two years and seven dead girls.

All that time, the monster
had been just a shadow.

Now, they had something real.

It wasn't everything,
it wasn't proof,

but it was something.

His name
was John Norman Collins.

what am I looking at?

Well, it's hair.

All right.

It's not her hair.

Link: As it turns out,
they actually have a clue.

And they find a pair
of Karen Sue's panties

inside of her.

There's also
pieces of hair attached.

But it's not just regular hair,

it's hair
as if from a barber shop.

It's hair that's been cut.

It wasn't Karen's hair.

It wasn't artificial hair
like from a wig.

It was someone else's hair.

It had been almost two years
since my friend, Mary,

had died at the hands
of this monster.

He had taken six other girls
and remained in the shadows...

...until now.

[ Telephone rings ]

Michigan Police.

Police start to pick apart
John Norman Collins' life.

They talk to his roommates.
They talk to his family.

They talk to his ex-girlfriends.

What they discover
is a success story.

John Norman Collins is a student
at Eastern Michigan University

and he's studying to be
an elementary-school teacher.

And he's outgoing,
he's personable,

and he has a lot of friends.

Good to see you, Leik.
Hi, detective.

Good to see you.
Thank you.

And he had an uncle

at the Ypsilanti State Police
Post, Sergeant Leik.

Link: A lot of things
happened all at once.

David Leik
comes home from vacation,

at the same time
that that composite

is making the rounds
within the police.

Hi, Connor.

I see they've got a sketch
on this guy already, huh?

McNamara: A fellow policeman
reaches out to David Leik

and tells him
that John Collins is a suspect.

My nephew, John Collins?

Man: Yes.

Ramsland: Leik started thinking,
"That's interesting."

While he was on vacation,
his nephew, John Collins,

has been looking after their dog
and taking care of the house.

Woman: David?

Leik: Yeah?

What's on the floor
down here?

Harvey: When he come home
and went down to the basement,

he says there was
something wrong.

What the heck is that? It looks
like it's paint or something.

McNamara: There's these spots
of black paint

on the floor
and kind of up on the wall.

Seven women are murdered.

He knows the killer is at large,

and it doesn't
sit right with him.

Right here are the spots
I was talking about.

And so the crime lab came down
immediately to the basement.

David's there, I believe
it's two other technicians,

and they go to work
on the black paint.

And they drop it
into this liquid which,

if it's human blood,
will turn blue-green.

Well, it's not blood.

Thanks for coming out.
I'm sorry.

And they're packing up to go...

...and as they go,

one of them happens to look down
and spot something

and freezes,

gets down
on his hands and knees...

What a second, guys.

Wait a second, guys.

What do you got?

By the washing machine,
there was some hair.

David Leik's wife
had cut her two sons' hair

down there under the light
in the basement.

And, right away, this technician
recognizes the hair

that was found on
the torn underwear of Karen Sue.

Link: They did a visual
inspection under a microscope.

The hairs looked exactly alike.

And they also search his car.

And what they find in his car
are drops of blood,

a button, and pieces of fabric.

Fournier: They found hair
and some flesh --

some scalp evidence --
in the trunk of his car.

[ Car horn honking ]

We want to announce that
one John Norman Collins,

age 23,
of 619 Emmet Street, Ypsilanti,

has been arrested and charged

with the murder
of Karen Sue Beineman.

And the trial started,
and we waited the entire summer.

And finally,
people had what they wanted,

and it was guilty.

They gave him a life sentence.

We're all familiar

with convicted people
who like to talk,

and John Norman Collins
is not one of them.

He says very little.

And that silence
continues to taunt.

And that kind of adds
to the eeriness, I think,
of the case.

We have our who,
but not our why.

And believe me when I tell you,

silence is more agonizing
than any scream.

After 40 years,
I still want to know...

Why my friend? Why Mary?

Ramsland: This is a guy who was
hours away from graduating.

It became clear
you didn't have to be living

in this kind of
teeming metropolis

with a lot of crime
for this to happen.

You could be living
in a small town in the Midwest,

and you could still be
the victim of a sociopath.

He's a good-looking,
all-American boy.

Who would've ever suspected him?

Harvey: I ran across
a lot of people who met him.

I ran across a nurse,
just last month, and she says,

"I met John.
I was 16 at that time.

And he wanted me to go
for a ride on his motorcycle."

She says,
"Consequently, I didn't go."

I says,
"Yeah, you're alive today."

In those days,
everybody trusted everybody,


Man: Williams.

You'd like to think
that you can always tell

the monsters from the men,

but I learned early on
that often, you can't.

Some of them
are impossible to spot,

even when they are
right in front of you,

and have been all along.

Where were you at?

My uncle's a cop.

He can vouch for me.

♪ My love, my love ♪

♪ Don't lie to me ♪

♪ Tell me where
did you sleep last night? ♪

♪ In the pines, in the pines ♪

♪ Where the sun never shines ♪

♪ I shivered
the whole night through ♪