A Hennepin County grand jury has indicted Pierre Collins on first-degree murder charges in the death of his 10-year-old son, Barway, authorities said Monday.
In April, County Attorney Mike Freeman charged Collins, 33, of Crystal, with second-degree murder and said that he would seek a first-degree indictment, which carries the maximum sentence possible under Minnesota law — life in prison without the possibility of parole.
According to the indictment, the killing was premeditated.
Barway went missing on the afternoon of March 18 after getting out of a school van in front of his Crystal apartment. His stepmother, Yamah Collins, reported him missing that evening. Community members organized searches for the boy as law enforcement focused on his father.
Barway Collins’ body, bound with duct tape, was found in the Mississippi River in Brooklyn Center in April. Police found a knife near the body, according to a search warrant.
Prosecutors have alleged that Pierre Collins, an unemployed father of seven, was deeply in debt and killed his son to collect on a life insurance policy. Collins had inquired about upgrading the boy’s life insurance policy two days before Barway disappeared, according to court documents.
The morning Barway was reported missing, Collins had attended a hearing at Hennepin County Family Court about his child support obligations for four children from a previous marriage, charges say.
Cellphone records and surveillance video link Collins to the crime scene, according to court documents.
Father and son immigrated to Minnesota from Liberia a few years ago. The boy’s birth mother, Louise Karluah, traveled from Monrovia, Liberia, to attend the funeral.
The case has caused great distress for many in the Twin Cities’ close-knit Liberian immigrant community.
Collins, who is being held in the Hennepin County jail on $2 million bail, will next appear in court on July 7. He is being represented by the Hennepin County public defenders’ office.