The search for a missing Crystal boy will continue Saturday, marking the 10th day of his disappearance as authorities scan the Mississippi River for any signs of the boy and volunteers continue to spread his story.
Crystal Police Chief Stephanie Revering said Friday that with the help of the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office, the FBI and the state’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, investigators are continuing to search for Barway Collins, 10. On Friday afternoon, technicians from the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Crime Lab were working at North Mississippi Regional Park.
Authorities are focusing by the river, east of Crystal from Interstate 694 south to Minneapolis’ Webber-Camden area, saying there is “strong evidence” that the boy’s father, Pierre Collins, was in that area just after Barway was last seen about 4:15 p.m. on March 18.
Meanwhile, volunteers on a “Find Barway Collins” Facebook page plan to conduct their own search starting at 9 a.m. Saturday. Barway’s family isn’t part of that effort, said Pastor Harding Smith of Brooklyn Center’s Spiritual Church of God, but they will hold a prayer service at noon Saturday at Cedarwood Apartments, 5450 Douglas Dr. N., Crystal, to mark the 10th day of his disappearance.
“The community has been devastated, so we will be coming together,” Smith said. “We will pray … to bring this young man home.”
Smith said Friday that the family’s “spirits are very low” as Pierre Collins, 33, remains the primary suspect. The boy was last seen getting off his school bus, with a school van camera recording him hopping out after casually telling a friend that he saw his “dad,” then his “uncle,” someone police are still searching to identify. The father has not been arrested or charged, but police have said that he “continues to not be truthful” with investigators.
Smith said that Pierre Collins maintains his innocence and that he is doing everything he can to comply with police.
“This is not about the father, this is not about the family, this is about Barway,” Smith said. “This is about [bringing] a peaceful resolution.”
After the prayer service, family, friends and community members will canvass the neighborhoods with fliers about Barway. The Jacob Wetterling Resource Center is also helping spread the word.
“We just want to make sure people know Barway’s face and story,” said Alison Feigh, the center’s program manager. “I think it’s frustrating for the general public wanting to do more and get involved. But sometimes the best thing is just sharing his picture and story. … We don’t want to get in the way of the investigation.”
Crystal police are offering a $12,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and prosecution.
Pierre Collins has said repeatedly that he had nothing to do with his son’s disappearance. Police are also looking for a second person who may have been involved in Barway’s disappearance, but have declined to give any details. On Wednesday, Collins’ wife, Yamah Collins, said she noticed Barway was missing at 5 p.m. and called her husband, who was not home. She said Pierre then called the school van service, which told him Barway was dropped off. The family began searching nearby parks and called family members. Collins’ birth mother lives in Liberia.
In early 2013, Jennifer Beaver, an ex-wife of Pierre Collins who now lives in Wisconsin, filed an order-for-protection petition against him, public records show. She alleges that Pierre abused her and their children. Under the order of protection, which expired March 14, he was not to visit his children’s schools. Barway, who emigrated to the United States from Liberia in 2011 with his father, is a fourth-grader at Evergreen Park World Cultures Community School.
“We’re still hopeful this young man is alive — that’s the prayer of the community,” Smith said. “I don’t even want to think of the river and what it may hold.”