Another serial rapist struck Ann Arbor in 1976, attacking at least 16 women, raping two of them. These attacks were often at knifepoint and occurred all over the city with no real pattern associated with them. Occurring so soon after the co-ed killings, the assaults caused a great deal of fear within the community.
On campus the university instituted an “emergency transportation plan”, after the second university student was raped by the suspect. Both of these victims lived in Oxford Housing, so one can imagine the fear of those living there. The assaults also occurred near the campus with the suspect either stabbing the women or attempting to rape them.
The suspect struck three times during the week of November 13, and one of the victims was a 74-year old. She was walking near Main and Packard when the suspect knocked her to the ground, attempted to rape her and then stole her purse.
During one of the suspect's first attacks, his victim fought with him and she knocked his knife from his hand. The suspect then fled, leaving behind his knife. He acquired a new weapon and attacked four more women within a week's time. In nearly all of the incidents he approached the women from behind, placed the knife at their backs and told them not to scream.
In January of 1977, Ann Arbor Detectives traveled to Pascagoula, Mississippi and arrested Robert Finklea in connection with one of the armed robberies. Finklea had returned to his native Mississippi in January and it was felt he was fleeing Ann Arbor because of the crimes. He was charged with a mugging which occurred the previous October. In that incident he allegedly grabbed a woman from behind as she was carrying groceries. He began choking her and dragging her into some shubbery. Two men approached as they heard the commotion and the suspect fled, but not before dropping a pack of cigarettes. Finklea's fingerprints where found on this package and both witnesses positively identified him as the suspect in the attack.
Finklea was also charged with the rape of a woman that he had lived with for a short time before he left Ann Arbor.
Shot Fired at Detective in Police Garage
After completing his afternoon shift on November 22, 1976, Detective Bernie Price was walking into the police department, through the police garage. As he did a gunman fired one round from a .25 caliber handgun at him, narrowly missing the detective.
After the shot rang out, Detective Price dropped to the ground, unholstered his gun while looking for the origin of the shooter. Detective Price saw Richard Barnard nearby and placed him under arrest. Barnard did not resist and did not shoot again at the detective. In police security he refused to make any statement about the incident.
Barnard had never been arrested by Detective Price and had no contact with the police department whatsoever. An investigation revealed no motive at all for the incident, in which Barnard was charged with attempted murder.
The bullet that missed Detective Price struck the wall near the rear entrance to the police department. To this day the bullet hole is circled in chalk, as a reminder to the officers of the incident.
Stolen Hearse at Muehlig's Funeral Home
On a very warm July night in 1977, an 18 year old Ann Arbor youth decided to go for a joy ride in a hearse stolen from Muehlig's Funeral Home, located on Fourth Ave. The suspect entered the funeral home undetected and drove a hearse through the garage doors.
Officers observed the stolen hearse on Broadway and a chased ensued. The suspect hit one car but continued on until he ran into an embankment at Swift and Wright Streets. The suspect was then placed under arrest and charged for the crimes.