Authorities on Saturday recovered a child’s body, spotted in midafternoon by a Boy Scout troop searching for a missing Crystal boy, from waters along the riverbank of North Mississippi Regional Park in Brooklyn Center.
The site is the epicenter of a weekslong search for 10-year-old Barway Edwin Collins of Crystal. Police did not identify the body Saturday.
Hours after the discovery, police squad cars were stationed at every entrance of the Collins family’s apartment complex in the northern suburb as throngs of onlookers stood in scattered groups.
A community activist who was with the Collins family Saturday night said police were at the home to protect the family, who had received several threats after the body was found. Pierre Collins, the missing boy’s father, was previously identified by police as the lead suspect in the case.
“At least there’s hope that he’s been found,” said Alhaji Mohamed Alpha Bah, president of the Guinea Community of Minnesota.
Police responded to a 911 call about 2:30 p.m. reporting that a body was floating in the river.
Pastor Harding Smith, who has been a spokesman for the Collins family, was reached on his way to the search scene. “I think it’s Barway,” he said.
“My heart is very troubled right now,” he said.
Sluward Barway, an uncle of the boy, said Saturday night that the boy’s stepmother, Yamah Collins, identified his body. Police said an identification would be made by the Hennepin County medical examiner.
Of the family, the uncle said: “They’re all devastated, crying.”
The Crystal fourth-grader has been missing since March 18. The boy’s father, 33, has not been arrested or charged, and he has repeatedly said he’s innocent.
Search efforts have been under way for several weeks in the area at 53rd Avenue N. and Lyndale Avenue N.
Smith confirmed that search efforts were focused on a new area of riverfront Saturday. He said two groups of up to 50 people had searched the area earlier. But it was a handful of Boy Scouts — all under age 13, according to missing persons advocate Sheila Bradley-Smith — who saw the body floating face-up near the shore. Authorities immediately were summoned.
Gayle Nelson, who was part of one of the earlier searches Saturday, said the Scouts were doing their own search.
Barway was last seen jumping out of his school van outside his apartment building on Douglas Avenue N.
Police question father
Crystal Police Chief Stephanie Revering has said that investigators have evidence that the father was near the river park in north Minneapolis in the hours after Barway went missing.
Police questioned Pierre Collins shortly after the disappearance. They said he flunked a lie-detector test and that they don’t believe he has been telling them everything he knows about the case.
Other than an initial appeal for help, Pierre Collins has rarely spoken with local journalists. He appeared on TV host Nancy Grace’s show after the boy disappeared, saying he had no knowledge of where Barway might be and pleading for help in finding him.
The search has involved investigators from the Crystal police, the Sheriff’s Office, the FBI and the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.
Barway, who emigrated to the United States from Liberia in 2011 to be with his father, is a fourth-grader at Evergreen Park World Cultures Community School.