Father of Minn. boy charged with 2nd-degree murder

Published 9:59 am Wednesday, April 15, 2015

MINNEAPOLIS — Citing cellphone location data and an inquiry about increasing life insurance coverage, prosecutors charged a Minnesota man on Tuesday with killing his 10-year-old son who had vanished nearly a month before his body was found in the Mississippi River.

Pierre Barlee Collins, 33, is charged with second-degree murder in the death of his son, Barway. A criminal complaint cited cellphone location data that police said places him, on the day the boy disappeared, near the spot in the river where the fourth-grader’s body was found last weekend.

The complaint also said Collins, who is unemployed, holds two life insurance policies on his son. Collins called the insurer on one of the policies two days before Barway’s disappearance to ask about raising the coverage from $30,000 to $50,000, according to the complaint.

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Collins, who does not have an attorney, has said he is innocent. A family spokesman, Pastor Harding Smith, said earlier Tuesday that Collins maintains he had nothing to do with Barway’s death and hoped the community would withhold judgment.

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman acknowledged at a news conference that authorities didn’t have a possible motive beyond the insurance. But he added: “We think it’s a strong circumstantial case.”