Second-degree murder charges are expected Tuesday against the father of 10-year-old Barway Collins, whose body was found over the weekend in the Mississippi River in Brooklyn Center, authorities said.
Pierre Collins, 33, was handcuffed and arrested at his Crystal apartment around noon Monday and was being held in the Hennepin County jail without bail.
Crystal police had identified Collins as a suspect early in the investigation into the disappearance of Barway, who was last seen March 18 hopping out of his school van in front of the apartment building where he lived with his father, stepmother and younger siblings on Douglas Avenue N.
Pierre Collins has denied any role in his son’s disappearance, but police have said they have electronic evidence showing he was in the area where Barway’s body was found in North Mississippi Regional Park in the hours after the boy disappeared.
Crystal Police Chief Stephanie Revering said the case against Collins was handed over to the Hennepin County attorney’s office, which said it expects to file charges as soon as Tuesday afternoon.
Neighbor Arving Smith, who knows the Collins family, said he was walking toward their apartment around noon Monday when officers who had been guarding the apartment told him that no visitors were allowed. Smith then saw officers put handcuffs on Pierre Collins as family members stood nearby crying.
Collins’ wife, Yamah Collins, who is Barway’s stepmother, then was escorted to an unmarked police vehicle with two officers inside. She appeared to be talking on a cellphone while in the police car. She was not arrested.
Shortly afterward, officers drove away from the complex with Pierre Collins, leaving via an underground parking garage.
Earlier, several officers had been guarding the complex because of threats directed at Barway’s family, which had intensified after the boy’s body was found near the river’s edge Saturday by Boy Scouts who were among volunteer searchers.
Although the Hennepin County medical examiner has not yet released the precise cause and manner of Barway’s death, Crystal police consider the case a homicide “based on the autopsy and what the medical examiner is telling us,” Revering said Sunday.
Asked then whether Pierre Collins was cooperating with the investigation, Revering said, “I wouldn’t call it true cooperation.”
She also said police took Pierre Collins’ passport to ensure that he couldn’t leave the United States. The boy’s biological mother remains in Liberia, where Barway was born. He joined his father in Minnesota in 2011.
‘We want justice’
Meanwhile, Evergreen Park World Cultures Community School in Brooklyn Center, where Barway was a fourth-grader, sent out a message informing students, parents and guardians about his death.
The message from Principal Sheryl Ray said that additional support staff from the Anoka-Hennepin School District were brought in Monday, and that social workers were on hand to speak with students.
Shortly after Barway disappeared, Ray described him as a well-known student who was polite and thoughtful toward others.
“We are all going to remember him as a student who had a wide smile, who had an infectious personality and that knew a lot of people in our school community,” she said. “We’ll recall whatever our last connection was. For me, it’ll be him holding the door open for a group of students as we were leaving the school on that particular day.”
Abdullah Kiatamba, executive director of African Immigrant Services, said Monday that the Liberian immigrant community is grieving and angry at the news of Barway’s death, and that there’s a “hunger for justice and demand for justice like never before.”
“His death cannot be in vain,” Kiatamba said after visiting with Barway Collins’ stepmother, Yamah, upon her return to her Crystal apartment. “We have to find out everything, even if it means [questioning anybody who is suspected]. We don’t care who that is. We want justice.”