MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Nearly four weeks after Barway Collins was last seen alive, his father has been charged with second-degree intentional murder in connection to his death Tuesday afternoon.
Searchers found Barway Collins' body in the Mississippi River in north Minneapolis Saturday. He was last seen alive March 18 after getting out of his school van.
Pierre Collins reported him missing shortly after and has repeatedly denied having anything to do with his disappearance. He remained in the public's eye during the search, even releasing a balloon hours before Barway's body was found.
"I had nothing to do with Barway's disappearance," he said on March 25. "I would do no harm to Barway. I'm not that type of person."
Investigators, however, say Pierre Collins is not being truthful.
"Mr. Collins has given several statements to the police are contradictory in nature in terms of almost every factual aspect of the case," Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said at the press conference Tuesday afternoon.
According to the criminal complaint, Pierre Collins' cell phone was pinged at the park along the river both at the time of Barway's disappearance and earlier that morning at 9:22 a.m.
A witness at the apartment complex also reported to police seeing Barway get into his father's vehicle before going missing.
Pierre Collins was unemployed, but his wife didn't know. He recently increased Barway's life insurance policy from $30,000 to $50,000, the complaint said.
"Both of them were unemployed and we knew they had debts," Freeman said.
The complaint continues that Barway's feet were bound with duct tape and there was also duct tape on his torso. His body was in the water for several weeks. His cause and manner of death have still not been released.
"We believe the father took him to the river, dumped him in a waste water storm water cistern and he remained underwater for 24 days," Freeman said.
Twin Cities defense attorney Joe Friedberg said the circumstantial evidence against Collins is strong, and he wouldn't be surprised if the charges change from second- to first-degree murder.
"There's nothing wrong with circumstantial evidence; it can be a lot stronger than direct evidence," he said. "When you have somebody who doesn't have any money trying to raise insurance money on his child just before the child is murdered, that's circumstantial evidence as well, but it kind of grabs you."
The memorial service, "Peace for Barway," will be held on Sunday at 2 p.m. at the North Mississippi Regional Park.
Barway's biological mother, Louise Karluah, lives in Liberia. Community members, family and friends are trying to help her be a part of the funeral or memorial service by setting up a community account at TCF Bank. They say any amount of contribution would be appreciated; donations can be made to the Barway Collins Fund.
Pierre Collins' bail has been set at $2 million. His first appearance in court is set for Wednesday at 1 p.m.
Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield spoke with a psychologist from Allina Health Tuesday about how parents can talk to their children about tragedies of this nature.
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