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Who Killed Jane Mixer?


In 1969, a 23-year-old law student at the University of Michigan was found murdered in a cemetery outside of Ann Arbor. Jane Mixer’s death was considered part of a string of violent killings known as the Michigan murders, thought to be the work of a serial killer. That changed when new evidence came to light. But more than 50 years later, doubt remains. Was the right person sent to prison?

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
I have to tell you, due to the nature of this case. Listener discretion is advised. This episode, inclusion discussions of murder and sexual assault? Consider this when deciding how and when you listen on the morning of march, twenty first police are called: do a cemetery laid out on one of the graves is a young woman's body, she's pension twice in the head walking is wrapped around her neck. Her dress is pulled and her nylons are yanked down, covered with a raincoat, a wolf jacket and some clothes Few items arranged between her legs, a bloody towel her shoes and purse and beside her a suitcase and a book catch me too, it's in mixer
I'm vanessa richardson, and this is serial killers spotify podcast besides release every monday stay with us hey there. This is jonathan goldstein host of heavy weight with some exciting whose heavyweight is now available for free wherever you get your podcast. What this means is that you can listen to any episode from any season on any podcast platform. This goes for the new season as well, which starts in september and be available everywhere, start polishing you're here, but it is going to be a duty, march nineteen, sixty nine june makes her as a grad student at the university of michigan law school in ann arbor, one of just thirty, seven women in a class of four hundred twenty she's about
the head home to miss gig in michigan for spring break, and she s big news for her parents, she's engaged to fellow grad student, phil lights, men feel plan. To join, jane and mistaken soon, but he wants to give her parents time to adjust to the idea. First, they ve never met all jane needs to do to get home is find a ride. She leaves are requested, campus ride board, which help students coordinate carpool, Maybe someone will give her a left sure enough change gets a response. A student named David Johnson is headed de michigan and agrees to drop her and muskie again on march twentieth. Room were that name d johnson before she leaves jane, calls her sister Barbara and tells you the plan. Barbara tries, talk her out of carpooling. She thinks jane, should just drive home with fill and introduce him to their parents right away, but jane insists. She knows what she's doing,
her last words to Barbara are trust. Me marge twentieth arrives Jane and her ride leave by six p m I've is around three hours, so she should be home around nine thirty she's when he let her dad no she's hitching a ride back in skin, the mixers wait for their daughters arrival. Nine thirty comes and goes so does ten. an eleven. Eventually they call the police drains dad dad gets in his car and drives around four hours. Thinking maybe Jane got in an accident but jane isn't in muskie again in a man of ours, her body is found in the cemetery outside ann arbor, J his parents confirm its her and as the mixer go home to process their shock and grief in two gaiters get to work. It stood
and Jane was shot to death. The way her kid, stage for body is misleading the stocking wrapped around her neck, was only put their after. She died and, despite this just have saved. They left her and with her dress, pulled up and nylons yank down. There are no signs of a sexual assault during us, to the campus authorities find a few things of interest. one is in change, dorm room a phone book with a mark. To a student's name David, johnson. The name of the person Jane said, was giving her a ride home. She can endure parents and her fiance phil detective pay David Johnson, a visit, but it turns out he has alibi? She was performing in a play. It time of genes murder, not only that he claims He doesn't know who Jane is authority interview other locals with the same name, but it doesn't lead them anywhere.
shortly after investigators find another phone book in the law. School library, strange, it has the words mixer and muskie again sketched on the cover. It feels significant, but for authorities can run down that clue. They get distracted because four days later, the body of another young woman, Marilyn Skelton, is found in Ann arbor. Ok, jane and Marilyn's deaths are alarming on their own, but really worrying authorities is they may be part of a larger pattern too? young women were stabbed deaf near local college campuses. In the recent past, one in ten sixty seven, the other in nineteen sixty eight all for victims were young they were each murdered within the same fifteen mile radius, two detectives, it looks like there could be a serial killer on the loose and soon more murders, fan the flames of that theory that sir
My three more victims are found in quick succession die basin, who was strangled and stabbed Alice, colombia who was stabbed and shot. Karen soon vitamin beaten and strangled collectively there this has become known as the michigan murders. Karen's death its authorities to their first promising, led since David Johnson care was spotted with a man the night she went missing. An eastern michigan university student named John norman collins. If that name sounds familiar, it's because we covered John collins on this show in may of two thousand and nineteen when ass, gaiters dig into collins passed. They find karen's odd and hair in the basement of his uncles home alone. With one of collins, fingerprints. It's an to make an arrest. The news comes as a huge relief after so much terror. It feels like the police force
finally have their guy and the public can breathe again authorities are unable to link collins to the other six victims, but that doesn't mean he's not considered the prime suspect in case like these, the priority, is getting a conviction and getting collins off the street as soon as possible. So prosecutors will often prioritize whatever cases the strongest and pursue other charges later. If they can. After collins, sent to jail the murders, stop, which is proof enough for most people including the mixers that Collins was responsible for all the murders, including chains, but officials, don't find more evidence. So jaynes case goes in active. The mixers step back from the spotlight to grieve in silence, it's easier for to stop talking about train to not have to continually real live the grizzly circumstances of their daughters, death, it's not perfect, but
except the ending they ve been given until it all falls apart. It's now two thousand one jane mix has been dead for over thirty years, and are cases been in they're from most of their time. While it was now a proven most everyone assumes. The culprit is behind bars for another murder, every one that is, except for detective Eric Schroeder, detective schroeder is a michigan investigator. He didn't work the michigan murders when they were active, but he them well, and he thinks about the cases a lot. Genes death in particular, has always haunted him. He doesn't think chief soon with the others? Mainly because she wasn't sexually assaulted and the others were. She was also shot, not stabbed, beaten or strangled, and the way the key
were laid over Jane, suggested some sort of compassion or care from her killer No one else received that treatment when she There's bosses assign them to re catalogue, old, cold case files. He gets a chance to examine genes, and he sends a few of evidence from her crime scene back in nineteen. Sixty nine to a lab is hope, is new dna Technology will either confirm Collins was the killer or play the case in a new direction. The evidence takes a year to process, but the results turn genes case on its head, the michigan, I was able to collect a number of dna samples from drains crime scene, the pantyhose the book. The blood on her left hand that wasn't hers and to every One shock the profiles don't belong to one person, they belong the three different men, none of whom
were John norman collins. So who were they the dna I'm a book and sweater belong to fill James fiance, which is easy enough to explain. The book his, and he was with Jane right before she left for home, but the other two profile from the blood and the nylons are unknown so detective. Odor turns to dna databases that can cross reference, local state and national records. It six months, but the eventually get a hit. The blood thanks to a man named John rulers ruling. Has a history of violence? Schroeder learns he's currently in prison, serving a sentence for killing his mother, who he'd abused for years leading up to the murder, but there's one problem rulest- is only thirty seven years old.
which means he was only four years old in nineteen. Sixty nine MR gaiters are baffled. How did his blood get on jane Be rules was with the killer at the time or at the graveyard after, but its impact able to say his parents, who were theoretically his caretakers at the time are dead and when investigators interview rootless, it doesn't amount to much say much and it's not like police can trust his memory anyway. What do you remember for when you were for sure, crosses rulest off his list of suspects and he's right back to square one. being another led will turn up soon. Eight months later. One does there's another dna head this time. The dna from the nylons. It's a man for a man named Gary lighterman, a retired nurse and father of two official
submitted is dna to the state after he illegally road himself, a prescription for pain killers and two thousand one, but its gary's more distant past that interest shrewder. He was twenties x in nineteen sixty nine and lived Twenty miles from ann arbor, shrewd and his team spend the next three months, poring over gary's background trying to learn everything they can. But there not the only ones wrapped up, in that case halfway ass the country in new york city. One year old, maggie nelson is also researching. Janes murder, but she's less focused on solving the case and more interested in learning who Jane was. So maggie- is James niece when she was Thirteen years old. She found out what happened to her aunt from a book about the michigan murders and she's been true. To learn more about her for years. Her mom,
Jane sister. Barbara still won't talk about Jane. Neither will her grandfather, Janes father, it's too painful easy. To avoid the subject completely over the It was maggie's had to rely on her own research, whatever find in libraries, archives and old newspaper articles. But then she stopped gone, her aunts, old diaries and letters. They contain her aunts, dreams in securities and fears, scrawled out an elegant, handwriting and intimate detail through them. Man he meets a version of her and that the world seem to have forgotten in more articles about her murder. Jane was described as shy. A bookish veil Victoria, but the dire he's reveal a much more complicated picture, a jane who loved her sister deeply, but sometimes hated her does much a jane that felt like an outsider, who desperately wanted to be here be and in love maggie
torch writing a book to capture this version of her at a mix of poems and diary entries a portrait of a war who was so much more than a victim. She finishes in two thousand for and sends her mom and early copy, Barbara reads it and calls maggie in tears. Barbara Jane and it felt like her daughter, managed to bring her back to life, would I don't know is maggie's block is just the beginning of trains, reintroduction of the world A month later, barbarous cell phone rings, the man, the other end introduces himself as detective Eric Schroeder. He says, in mixers case. Isn't over there were about to ass, the man they think really killed her.
the day before thanksgiving two thousand for investigators arrive at Gary lighterman house. They interview for three hours before telling him his dna was found at jane mixers crime, scene, Gary's shocked, he's meant that he doesn't know what they're talking about. He never knew jane mixer, but his words fall deaf ears, invest if the gators don't need a confession. At this point, dna, is enough to arrest him on the spot, some in the next two weeks, detective search, Gary's house? find evidence exactly, but they do find cause for concern. Polar lloyd photos of a sixteen year old, south korean exchange student who lives with the lighter men's line unconscious on gary's bed. And notably her clothing is pulled up. Exposing her hips, similar to how genes body was arranged
In addition, authorities find drugs hidden and gary shaving kit. Jane wasn't drugged, but it's possible. The exchange student was when she interviewed she says she doesn't remember the photos being taken it. Alarming, but unfortunately it's nothing that concretely connects Gary any further to case an investigator hoping to find something else, because the dna evidence connecting gary to James crime scene is complicated by june. Rulers? How can they confidence, place Gary there when they can't properly explained the four year olds blood official. Move forward anyway, luminary hearing begins in january, two thousand and five maggie nelson? Is there with her family? It's the first I'm. She lays eyes on Gary lighterman a man she's heard so much about and she surprised by on assuming he looks, he's a boy.
Old man and his sixties, wearing some prescription glasses like anyone's grandpa dad. It's also First time she meets detective schroeder in person up until this point table spoken on the phone. The hearing is a lot to process for maggie's family. They ve been avoiding this tragedy for decades, so there a little wary especially its genes, father Dan Maggie's grandfather is the first witness he's in his nineties and maggie's acutely aware of how old he looks on the stand as he were counts the day he identified his daughters body in front of her possible killer and things don't get an easier, their vivid district, of genes autopsy photos, her router is rehashed maggie. Can heal, the emotional weighed on her family when the hearing ends a trial data set for that summer, maggie family has to go back to their lives and spending
a few months waiting. Maggie at least has a distraction. A few more after the hearing. The book of poems about her aunt comes out. She make sure descend schroeder a copy accordingly oghee he goes over it with a high, lighter he's on the prowl for deep hails that are new to him. Anything that could help case he gets in touch maggie here and there asking her about certain parts, but after all the way detective schroeder's put into jaynes investigation, he's not will to see it through for the trial starts. He has a cancer scare and gets removed from the case entirely, which yet and the day may not be such a bad thing. Shrewder can finds in maggie that during the investigation he drank too much and his marriage fell apart. The case was all encompassing- and I got to the point he says were
would see jaynes ghost at night. I think the directive there was ready for a break maggie inner I only wish Schroeder well as they prepare to navigate the proceedings on their own. They are hoping to find will get some sort of closure I'll begins in July. Two thousand five what's working against Gary is, of course, that is. Dna was founded chains, crime scene and he lived close to Ann arbor at the time the trial gets under way. More evidence comes to light gear. His college roommate testifies that Gary owned a twenty two caliber gun back in the day. The sea how kind that killed Jane Gary parent leave and set up a firing range in their basement. Through me, also says that gary used to save newspaper articles about the michigan murder cases and remember that second phone book one police found in the school library, with the words mixer and muskie again, sketched on the cover
handwriting expert compares the words to a sample of gary's writing and determines its highly probable match, all this. On top of all the damning evidence against gary's character, the photos of exchange student, the drugs found in his home, the illegal prescriptions make for a premium. In case, but the defence works hard to poke hole, In the prosecutions case, Gary's too, two caliber gone. For example. no way to prove it was the weapon that killed Jane as far as fire arms go it's a relatively common caliber and even Oh gary's dna was found at the crime scene, his finger prints, weren't of all the prints lifted by police back in nineteen. Sixty nine none belong to gary so How did dna evidence place him at the scene? How is that possible? While the defence suggested huge mistake caused by crime
contamination at the lab, turns out the lab that process jane mixers evidence in two thousand one was also processing materials for other cases. Around the same time, including murder of John rulers. His mother, The contamination could explain what the police haven't been able to. How John, the blood somehow appeared at a murder scene miles away from his home the time when he was only four years old, as for gary after he was charged for forging prescriptions and two thousand one. He had to prove dna swab to police and his son I was being processed in the same lab at this time, so the defence argues that All the dna evidence should basically be tossed out, but it trial representatives from the michigan lab assure the court that they followed all federal standards and practices, multiple
technicians testified that there was no contamination and, at the end of the day, jury sides with the prosecution. gary, lighter mammas, convicted of murder and the first degree and sentence to life in prison. Is appeals are rejected and about a decade later, Gary passes away, but once it and there's a lingering question: did the court get it right in two thousand eighteen, a study and psycho dynamic bulletin and review singles out gary's case with a better you're standing of dna technology. They re examined the evidence that put him behind bars and conclude its height. The likely cross contamination impact. The case Make all the same points we ve mentioned and discuss another strange anomaly: do you mean
of gary's dna on trains nylons? It was a lot. In fact, there was more of gary's than genes witches considering she was wearing them, it's possible. areas. Dna was so prevalent because it was more recent and hadn't degraded as much as james as in it might have been ransford onto the nylons in the lab in two thousand to, but there is no proof the lad maintains their tests were accurate and reliable, but doubt his over the years the mixture find themselves in the same spot. They were years ago fairly. Com and chains murderer was cod but wondering, if ever know for certain. If nothing else, maggie says that, through revisiting her aunts case. They ve been able to remember how much they loved her so who killed, jane mixer,
was it gary lighterman or was it Karen? Vitamins murderer John norman collins. This is acted serial killer, who everyone originally thought. What, if I told you that According to lieutenant Earl James who investigated jaynes murder back in nineteen, sixty nine collins used to live in a college, frat house with a bunch of young men and one was named David johnson Thanks again importuning into serial killers, spotify podcast we'll be back monday with another episode. As you might have noticed, we ve made some changes to bring a fresh perspective to the show and more will becoming I wanted the moment to acknowledge my long time, co, host, Gregg paulsen, who will no longer be joining me. I'm too we grateful for his invaluable contributions over the years together we build
extensive library of episodes for you to enjoy anytime anywhere final You may not know this, but serial killers is a collaborative effort with a dedicated team of researchers and writers who tirelessly craft compelling stories for you every week. Moving forward, you can like to hear from our talented staff as they move from behind the scenes and joined the show. I hope is excited as we are for this thrilling new chapter stay tuned from or updates- and thank you for your continued support for Information on jane mixer, amongst many sources we used, we found the red parts by maggie nelson and Cbs news forty eight hours special, the deadly ride extremely helpful to our research state safe out there serial killers, spotify podcast. This episode was written by Kate Murdoch edited by sarah bachelor and andrew keller. Her researched by
He taylor and chelsea would fact checked by hayley, milkin and sound designed by alex button. Our head of programming is julian, borrow are headed Induction is nick johnson and spencer where is our postproduction supervisor, I'm your home Vanessa, Richardson.
Transcript generated on 2023-08-22.