On Tuesday, the father of Barway Collins was charged with second-degree murder after a body found floating Saturday in the Mississippi River was identified as the missing 10-year-old fourth grader.
According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, police said Pierre Collins had two insurance policies out on his son. He and his wife Yamah, who is the boy’s stepmother, were facing crushing debt, said the paper.
Authorities believe the man acted alone. He is being held in Hennepin County jail on $2 million bail. He maintains his innocence.
Pierre Collins was named as the only suspect in the boy’s disappearance after video of Barway just before he exited his school bus showed the boy saying that he saw his father and his uncle.
Barway was last seen on March 18 outside his home in Crystal, Minn. at Cedarwood Apartments. The 4th grader had just exited his school bus and was seen at about 4:30 p.m. walking away from the parking lot at his apartment building.
This weekend, the mystery behind his disappearance was solved. “It is with great sadness that we are reporting that the body, which was recovered from the Mississippi River yesterday, is that of our missing child Barway Collins,” Crystal Police Chief Stephanie Revering said in a statement Sunday.
A volunteer searcher first noticed the body in the river. The location where Barway was recovered, about 10 feet from the river’s edge at 53rd and Lyndale in the North Mississippi Regional Park, is “consistent with our knowledge of Pierre Collins’ activities on March 18,” according to police.
“We have electronic evidence that Pierre Collins was in the immediate vicinity of where Barway’s body was found at the time of his disappearance,” Revering said.
An autopsy will determine how Barway died.
The news was difficult for members of the community to accept. After Barway’s body was found, police protection was put in place at Collins’ apartment complex to protect his family from the possibility of retribution.
“I feel really sad right now,” Pastor Harding Smith, a spokesperson for the Collins family, told NewsOne in an interview. “Really sad.”
Collins has maintained his innocence in media interviews.
“I’m doing everything to bring my son home,” Collins said recently.
Collins said he left the apartment to go to the store around the time Barway’s bus arrived and that his son may have spotted his car.
Last week, Smith and other leaders of the area’s Liberian community said that too much attention on Collins was taking away from the search for Barway. Smith said he understood why police had named Collins as a suspect, but wanted to make sure that all possibilities were being considered in the case.
Police first grew suspicious of Collins after he declined to say who the uncle was that Barway might have been referring to on the bus. Many close family friends who are not related by blood are often referred to as uncle, so Collins said he did not know to whom his son was referring.
Crystal Police also said they felt that Collins was not being “truthful” with them following his performance on a lie detector test.
“Our deepest sympathies are extended to those who loved and cared for Barway,” said Revering.
PHOTO CREDIT: Family Handout