By: Duannah Siryon
|Pierre CollinsPierre Collins allegedly murdered his son (Barway Collins)|
Minnesota, U.S.A.: On March 18, 2015, Barway Edwin Collins, a 10-years-old Liberian boy, went missing after his school bus dropped him off at his Cederwood Crystal apartment complex in Minnesota. Moment before he was dropped off, little Barway was seen happily on his school bus video camera saying "there goes my dad and my uncle."
Immediately after Barway’s reported missing, a state-wide search and rescue operation was initiated by the Crystal Police Department, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA), The Organization of Liberians in Minnesota (OLM), The Liberian Minister's Association (LMA) and many other organizations and individuals.
On April 11th (24 days later), the search and rescue team uncovered remain of a young person in the Mississippi river, where, investigators suspected Barway may have been deposited by his murderer.
On April 12, the Hennepin County Coroner office confirmed that the body found in the Mississippi river was that of 10-years-old Barway Collins. A day later, Hennepin County attorney Mike Freeman, based on "circumstantial evidence", charged Pierre Collins, Barway's father, with a 2nd degree murder of his son.
According to the criminal complaint filed on April 14th, two days before 10-year-old Barway Collins disappeared, his father (Pierre Collins), who is also a Liberian, had inquired about increasing little Barway’s life insurance policy.
At a news conference announcing the charges against Pierre Collins and identifying him as the sole suspect in his son’s death, authorities said they are convinced that based on available evidence, they may asked the court for a possible first-degree murder indictment. Barway’s body was bound with duct tape at the hands and torso.
Collins, 33, who is currently being held in the Hennepin County jail on $2 million bail, had his first court appearance on Wednesday, April, 15th. The charges against Pierre Collins focus heavily on cellphone signals that provide a detailed account of his whereabouts on March 18, the day Barway disappeared.
“This is a tragedy,” Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said at a news conference in Minneapolis. “From every report, Barway was a fine, precocious, exciting young man whose life was snuffed out. There’s no reason for it.
“We believe the father took him to the river and dumped him in waste water, storm water cistern, and he remained underwater for 24 days” before entering the river, Freeman said.
The body’s condition indicated that it had been in the water for some time, but authorities have not been able to establish an exact cause of death, the charges say.
Crystal police had identified Collins as a suspect early in the investigation into the disappearance of Barway, who was last seen hopping out of his school van in front of the Crystal apartment building where he lived with his father, stepmother and two younger siblings.
According to the Charge Sheet, Pierre Collins, who was deeply in debt and had no income, had two life insurance policies on his son, authorities say. One covered Collins himself for $100,000 and each of his children for $20,000. The other, for $30,000 on Barway, was purchased through a different company. On March 16, Collins made a payment on the second policy and asked about raising the coverage to $50,000.
The morning Barway was reported missing, Collins had attended a hearing at Hennepin County Family Court regarding his child support for children from a previous relationship, mentioned the Charge Sheet.
Phone records show that after the hearing, from 9:22 to 9:29 a.m., Collins was near 53rd-56th and Lyndale Avenues N., where Barway’s body was later found, the charges say. He had no reason to be there, nor had he visited that area for 30 days before his son disappeared, authorities say.
After Barway got home from school, he was seen walking from his father’s car to the apartment, where he peered inside a window but did not enter, the charges say. At the time, cellphone signals show that Collins was either in or near the apartment building.
At 4:42 p.m., Collins was again in the area of Lyndale and 55th avenues N., the phone signals indicate.
From 4:42 to almost 5:41 p.m., his phone registers no activity, meaning it was either turned off or in airplane mode, the charges say.
During that time, Collins was seen electronically checking his bank account balance at a TCF Bank inside Cub Foods in Brooklyn Center.
When the phone was turned back on, he called Yamah, his wife and Barway’s stepmother, who told him that the boy had not arrived home from school.
At 5:51 p.m., Pierre arrived home, Yamah later told police. She said he was in tears, which she thought was odd because he was not generally emotional and his son had not been gone that long.
At 6:03, Pierre left the apartment building again in his car after having changed his shirt and put on a cap, the charges say. He returned to the building in his car at 6:24 p.m.
At 6:27 p.m., he called 911 from his cellphone to report Barway missing, the phone signals indicate.
Earlier Tuesday, Rev. Harding Smith, the family’s spokesman, said Pierre is “segregated” in jail to protect him, and that he continues to deny any involvement in his son’s disappearance and death.
Smith appeared at a news conference with Yamah Collins, her two children with Pierre, other relatives of Yamah, and Pierre’s brother and two sisters. They declined to comment.
As Barway's memorial service arrangement currently being workout in Minnesota, efforts are underway to help Barway’s biological mother Louise Karluah, who lives in Liberia, come to Minnesota to have a befitting goodbye to her son.
Minnesota is one of many states with no death punishment; however, if Pierre Collins is convicted, the maximum sentence for a 2nd degree murder charge is 40-years in prison with no possibility of parole.
A 10 Year Old Liberian Boy Missing: Law Enforcement Pledges USD$12,000 Reward
The Author: Duannah Siryon (email@example.com) with excerpt from Karen Zamora of Star Tribune Newspaper