'Any life is important ..."
BY WILLIAM B. TREML
Norman Collins tb it's futile to execute the
Gi; - -v Gilmoresofth .
Collins, the 28-year-old convicted murderer of Karen
Sue Beineman, spoke of the capital punishment issue in
1 an interview with The ' -sor News in Southern
Michigan Prison at Jacksi; -- _- fhursday.
The meeting was the first time the former Eastern
Michigan University student had spoken to the press
- since his arrest more than seven years ago. He request-
, ed the personal interview with The News.
Gilmore. admitted killer of two men in armed hold-
. ups in Salt Lake City, is scheduled to die before a fir-
, ing squad in Utah at sunrise on Monday. In the execu-
tion is carried out, it will be the first time in a decade
. that capital punishment has been used in the United
Collins, who at one time himself stood in the shadow
of capital punishment, thinks execution does little to
solve the problems of crime. And he believes to pass a
law setting out the murder of policemen and prison
guards as cause for capital punishment has little merit.
"Why pick out these people, policemen and prison
g\'. in the Jackson interview. "Any life
is ,; ^Jiiu^i i Li-LiK you're going to have to go back to
the reason for crime, rather than concentrate on pun-
ishment. You could kill all those who commit crimes.
But if you allow the conditions which brought about
; those crimes to continue there soon would be others
you'd have to kill."
The same year he was convicted of the Beineman
murder here, California authorities had issued a mur-
der warrant for Collins in the slaying of a 17-year-old
girl. Roxie Ann Phillips, visiting Salinas, Calif., from
her home in Oregon, disappeared from a city street on
a June evening in 1969. Police say she told fri(
;. was going out on a date with a college studcr ni
Michigan named "Collins."
Thirteen days after her disappearance her battered
body was found in a public dump 10 nailes from Salinas.
Michigan State Police made several trips to California
to aid authorities there in the Phillips murder investi-
gation. At the time, California had reinstated the death
penalty in a new law and if Collins had been extradited
from Michigan, tried and found guilty, he would have
^ been subject to the death penalty. But the warrant
Pa are 3
i Sunday, January 16,1977
Collins Speaks About
l Crime And Punishment
against Collins was dismissed by Salinas authorities
after two years of legal maneuvering by the Michigan
attorney general's office and California officials.
At the time of the dismissal, Monterey County Dis-
trict Attorney William Curtis said it would cost $100,000
to extradite Collins from Southern Michigan Prison, try
him in California and then return him to Michigan to
serve his life term for the Beineman killing.
Asked about the California charge, Collins said in the
prison interview that he had never met Roxie Phillips
nor had he even dated during the week he and Andrew
J. Manuel spent on the West Coast.
"Manuel had some relatives out there and we stayed
with them. They lived in a Chinatown section and all we
did was eat Chinese food. It was good but that was
about all that was good about that trip. We didn't do
anything. It was cold, the place was near the ocean, the
weather was bad. No one was friendly. We'd go walking
along the beach and begin talking to a group and they'd
ask where we're from. We'd tell them 'Michigan' and
that was it. It wasn't just where we were from, it's that
they had their little cliques there like everywhere. It
was the most boring trip I ever made," Collins said.
He said Manuel, a 25-year-old California native who
roomed with him at 619 Emmet Street in Ypsilanti for a
i time, was more acquaintance than friend.
"I really didn't know him that well. We worked
together at Motor Wheel in Ypsilanti and he wantedxto
go back to California to visit so we went. As it turned
out he ripped me off ... stole some of my stuff," Col-
Manuel and Coli S the 1968-model gray Oldsmo-
bile owned by Coilins 10 pull a trailer rented from an
Ypsilanti dealer on the California trip. The trailer was
left in California and later M-""- ••' vas convicted of
larceny by conversion for failun in ; > iurn the trailer to
the dealer. He also pleaded guilty to concealing stolen
property involving a diamond ring taken from an apart-
ment in Ypsilanti in a burglary.
Manuel, who became the object of a nationwide police
search after Collins was arrested on July 31, 1969, was
never linked to the Beineman slaying or to any of the
other six unsolved murders. After federal agents ap-
prehended him at the home of a relative in Phoenix,
Ariz., on Aug. 6, 1969, he told officers he did not know
of a date Collins had with Roxie Phillips or any other
girl while they were in California. .
In the prison interview last Thursday, Collins said the
criminal justice system in the United States generally
is the victim of the officials who operate it.
"This means judges, prosecutor, public defenders,
lawyers," Collins asserted. "It means people who
shouldn't be in office, who take oaths and don't intend
to keep them. And don't keep them. You can't say it's
just the system. It's the people who run it."
He said the part of the criminal justice sy.s ich
includes the prisons o1 ation, namely Southern
Michigan Prison, has n oine progress toward re-
"They'd made some breakthroughs here," he notes.
"They've taken away the partitions. Now there is con-
tact with loved ones -f:^:r•-r visiting hours. They've done
some things for cha i there's a long way to go."
Turning to his own case, he is convinced the media
whipped up the drum-fire of public feeling against him
and the two lawyers who defended him in the al
"They printed I had a violent temper, was a mad-
man. The truth is that 'I've always avoided fights. I
didn't get into fights when I was a kid. I was always the
one who was breaking up fights."
He said he was also portrayed as an attacker of wo-
men, a man who couldn't be trusted around women.
"In this institution I've worked in offices and other
uh women ' 'alked with them. I'm not a
:; is they've p!U,i.: me," he says.
He cites what he termed "harsh treatment" by the
Washtenaw County public of his two defense lawyers,
Neil Fink and the late Joseph Louisell, as a reaction to
"They said a lot of things about Mr. Louisell and Neil
because they were defending me. They were given very
harsh treatment. It shouldn't have been," Collins said.
Collins blames a botched police stakeout operation at
the Beineman murder scene for his eventual arrest and
"If they'd have caught that guy I wouldn't be sitting
here today," he said in the prison interview.
On the night of July 26, 1969, only hours after Karen
Beineman's body had been found, State Police from the
Ypsilanti post and sheriff's detectives set up a stakeout.
The surveillance area was the ravine where the body
had been discovered along the Huron River Drive at
Riverside Drive in Ann Arbor Township. Prosecutor
William Delhey personally placed a store mannequin
which he had obtained from Penney's in the Arborland
Stripping Center on the spot where the body was found.
The elaborate stakeout was decided on because in at
News photos by Jack Stubbs
"Via not a maniac . . .*
least two of the other six murders there was evidence
the killer had returned to the spot where the body had
been left. To insure secrecy, the media were not in-
formed of the finding of the Beineman body. But the
trap failed when a man who ran down Riverside Drive
n- imy, crossed Huron River Drive and
di .. i i-avy brush and swampland east of-the
At the time rain was falling and visibility was poor.
All police radios on the scene went "out" at the precise
moment the man was spotted and officers were unable
to alert each other on the path of the suspect's flight.
The reason for the radio failures was never discovered.
Collins maintains that if an apprehension had been
made then, he never would have been charged.
He noted his trial seven years a?" hpcame sn im;
and bogged down with scientific t '
have been useless for him to take me aidiiu ui ins uvri'.
"The hair analysis thing just dragged on. Why those
,.,. ..•:•> were going to sleep in the courtroom. Mr. Loui-
sell and Nc' me about taking the stand and I told
them I woli ey thought it best. I wasn't afraid to
answer questions, to take the cross examination. They
asked me what I thought. I said while I was willing to
testify it seemed to me the jury was so tired of it all, so
exhausted that they wouldn't listen to me no matter
what I said. So we decided I wouldn't take the stand,"
Collins was warm in praise of his two defense attor-
neys, Louisell who died several years ago, and Neil
Fink, who is still pui^uing appeals. Louisell was "... a
very kind man, police, very courtly. . . .", Collins said.
Fink was pharacterized as competent and capable ".
a sines 'onfidence in him . . ,"
ColliiL-i a^nc ui ut^uiiim^ devoted to motorcycle trav-
el when at Eastern. It became his avocation.
"I liked to ride bikes. It was a freedom, a chance to
get away. Everyone has a time when he wants to go off
by himself, to enjoy some solitude. That's how I did it,
by getting on the bike and just riding. I'd ride any-
where. Sometimes I'd just get on an expressway with a
full tank of gas and ride till it ran dry, then fill up
again and keep on going. Sometimes you'd meet some-
body else on a bike and ride along with them. Or some-
times you'd just ride for miles alone. It was freedom, it
was what I liked to do," he said.
Continued on Page 4
^You Just Have
To Hope9 — Collins
Continued from Page 3
(Ironically, it was Collins' motorcy-
cle which played a key role in the
prosecution's case in the murder tri-
al. Joan Goshe, who made a court-
room identification of Collins as the
man she saw with Beineman on the'
day of the murder, described the
motorcycle the man was riding at the
time. At one point in the trial, two
motorcycles which police said Collins
owned were brought into the court-
room as state exhibits.)
Collins said his mother, Mrs. Loret-
ta Collins, and his brother and sister
have been supportive of him in the se-
ven years since his arrest. He re-
ceives three visits a month from his
friends and relatives.
He said two nuns who taught him at
St. Clement' ' '••i^lic High School in
Center Lin< ivarren in Macomb
County still correspond with him.
Some high school classmates and
friends from Eastern Michigan also
write him, he says.
Collins recalls busy high school
-!ays when he played fullback on the
Clement's football team. But when*
he broke a leg — playing baseball —
in his junior year he was moved to an
end position on the grid team. He
played football his freshman year at
Central Michigan University at Mt.
Pleasant where he played defensive
back. He transferred to Eastern Mich-
igan 'after his freshman year but did
not go out for football.
He has maintained his interest in
sports in prison and with his assign-
ment to the institution's gymnasium
is able to participate regularly in bas-
ketball. He also plays football on a
While Collins admits adjustment to .
prison life was "shock treatment" for
him, he eyes the future with quiet
"I'm a semester short of getting a
degree in education. I'd planned to
teach. I like kids. But I guess that's
out. I know I've probably got 13 years
anyway to do before there's a possibil-
ity of getting out.
His former fiancee has married
.since he entered prison.
"I don't blame her. She stuck it out
as long as possible. This is pretty
grim," he says.
He says he still ..„,-.-, to complete
his college education and be granted a
degree. He was a semester short of
graduation when he was arrested in
"I'd like to teach. That's what I
planned to do. I like kids. But aftr-
this I suppose teaching is out. I knov.
I've got 13 more years to do anyway
before there's a possibility of getting
out. You just have to keep up hope.
After all, if you don't have hope, what
have you got?"
William B. Treml
Crime & Criminals
Ann Arbor News
William B. Treml
Roxie Ann Phillips
Neil H. Fink
Karen Sue Beineman
Joseph W. Louisell
John Norman Collins
Andrew Julian Manuel Jr.
619 Emmet Ypsilanti