Murder charges were filed Tuesday afternoon against Pierre Collins in the death of his 10-year-old son, Barway Collins. Collins, 33, was arrested Monday afternoon at his apartment in Crystal, Minn., two days after Barway's body was recovered from the Mississippi River. According to the charges, he told police "if they had enough, they should come and get him."
"This is a tragedy," Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said. "From every report, this was a fine, precocious young man whose life was snuffed out."
The day Barway went missing
Barway Collins was last seen alive on the afternoon of March 18, when he exited a school transportation van in front of the Cedarwood Apartments in Crystal. In video footage, Barway looks out the window and is heard referring to his father and a man he calls "uncle."
According to the charges, Pierre Collins had his car parked in front of the apartment building, which was unusual. Investigators believe Barway was taken to the river and dumped in a storm water drain.
When Barway's body was recovered from the river on April 11, his feet were bound together with duct tape and a piece of tape was wrapped around his torso. Barway's body was found about 10 feet from shore, at North Mississippi Regional Park, near 53rd Avenue N. and Lyndale Avenue N. in Minneapolis.
A member of the volunteer search party told Fox 9 the body was first spotted by a group of Boy Scouts who had been canvassing the river's edge.
"While they weren't able to bring Barway home alive, they were able to bring Barway home," Crystal Police Chief Stephanie Revering said, offering her thanks to the volunteer searchers.
Evidence puts Pierre Collins at river
"We have electronic evidence that Barway's father, Pierre, was in the vicinity of where his body was found at the time of his disappearance," Chief Revering said at a Sunday afternoon press conference.
That evidence, according to the charges, was location data pulled from his phone. The data shows that at 9:06 a.m. on March 18, Collins left the downtown Minneapolis courthouse and drove north on Interstate 94. From 9:22 a.m. to 9:29 a.m., he was in the area of 53rd Avenue N. and Lyndale Avenue N., where Barway's body was recovered.
Records for the previous 30 days show Pierre's phone never registered to that area, and he's not known to have any particular reason for being in the area.
"No one really has a reason to be there unless they're fishing, and there's no fishing equipment that Mr. Collins had," Freeman said.
Life insurance policy
Prosecutors confirmed Pierre Collins took out a $30,000 life insurance on Barway, and paid the premium on that policy two days before Barway's death. In fact, he asked about raising the policy on Barway to $50,000. Collins also held a $100,000 life insurance policy that covered himself and his dependents, at $20,000 each.
On March 18, the day Barway Collins went missing, Pierre Collins was at a family court hearing that his ex-wife, Jennifer Beaver, joined via teleconference.
"Pierre was ordered that day to pay child support," she said. "The judge was not lenient on him that day at all. The day was very hard on him and he was angry." PLAY INTERVIEW
When Collins went to Hennepin County Family Court that morning, he lied to his wife, Yamah, and told her he was going to work. Yamah was under the impression Pierre worked as a home health aide, when in fact he had been unemployed "for some time" and has no apparent income. Pierre and Yamah Collins have "considerable" debt and no current income, but Pierre turned down a temporary job offer on March 17, saying he was unable to report to work on March 18.
Pierre Collins: 'I did not do this'
Family spokesman Pastor Harding Smith spoke Tuesday morning outside of the Cedarwood Apartments in Crystal, telling the assembled media that Pierre Collins continues to maintain his innocence in jail.
"Pierre told me, ‘Pastor, I did not do this.' I do believe him, but as a pastor, I do not judge," Smith said.