Pierre Collins charged in murder of his son


Pierre Barlee Collins was charged with a single count of second-degree murder in the death of his 10-year-old son, Barway, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced at a news conference Tuesday.

Collins, 33, of Crystal, was arrested Monday and will make his first court appearance at 1:30 p.m.  Wednesday. Prosecutors will be seeking bail of $2 million.

Police used video and cell phone evidence to track Collins to an area of the Mississippi River on the day Barway went missing. Barway's body was found in that area Saturday.

“Earlier that day, he went to this spot by the Mississippi River and, frankly, no one has a reason to be there unless they are fishing and there is no fishing equipment that Mr. Collins had,” Freeman said.

According to the criminal complaint, Pierre Collins left his Crystal apartment on the morning of March 18. His wife assumed he was going to work, but in fact, he had not been employed for some time. Instead, he was in Hennepin County Family Court for a child support hearing regarding children from a previous marriage.

Records from his cell phone indicated that at 9:06 a.m., Pierre Collins left downtown Minneapolis and headed north on Interstate 94. By 9:22 a.m., he was in the area of 53rd and Lyndale Avenues along the river and remained thee for seven minutes, the complaint states.

At 4:17 p.m., Barway Collins’ school bus dropped him off at his apartment and the bus video recorded him saying, “there’s my dad.” What probably prompted the comment was the sight of his father’s silver Volkswagen Jetta near the entrance to the parking lot, a different spot from where the car usually was left, according to the complaint.

Surveillance video and cell phone records show that Barway kept wandering between the Jetta and the apartment building for a little more than five minutes when Pierre Collins finally left his apartment and then was seen leaving the parking lot in the Jetta at 4:26 p.m.

“We are, of course, are very pleased that Pierre Collins is being charged in this matter,” Crystal Police Chief Stephanie Revering said at the news conference. “But this is a sad time for the citizens of Crystal and we can’t forget the tragic manner of how Barway spent his last few hours.”

At 4:42 p.m., Pierre Collins was in the same area he had visited in the morning. He then apparently turned off his phone for an hour, the complaint states.

“For 25 plus days, officers from multiple agencies, including deputies and volunteers, concerned moms and complete strangers all worked in partnership for the same goal, to bring Barway back,” Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek said. “Deputies searched for clues which were then analyzed by our crime lab technicians”.

Freeman said that only Collins could give a motive and he is not speaking to police. However, neither Collins or his wife were working and they were in debt. Pierre Collins had two life insurance policies on Barway that totaled $50,000, Freeman said.

“This is a tragedy,” Freeman said. “From every report, this was a fine, precocious, exciting young man whose life was snuffed out. There was no reason for it. The people standing with me today are hardened, tough law enforcement veterans and every one of us is shocked. What we can do and must do is complete our investigation, charge this case and bring this man to justice.”

Criminal Complaint (PDF)

Watch the News Conference (link to YouTube)