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Questions Arise Over Funds Donated To Barway's Funeral Fund

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Barway Collins' family pastor says he wants to set the record straight about the community fundraising efforts to give the boy a proper burial.

The 10-year-old's body was found just over one week ago in North Mississippi Regional Park.

Barway had been missing since March 18, when a school van dropped him off at his apartment.

Prosecutors believe Barway's father, Pierre Collins, killed his son for insurance money, and they say they have the circumstantial evidence to prove it. He is currently behind bars.

Pastor Harding Smith -- who has been speaking on behalf of the family -- says Barway's funeral will be this Saturday.

He says although some in the community wanted to wait until Barway's mother arrives from Liberia for the funeral, Estes Funeral Chapel in north Minneapolis recommends that the ceremony and burial happen soon because of the condition of the body.

Pastor Smith says Barway deserves a proper burial.

"The funeral is this Saturday at 11 a.m. at Shiloh Temple," Smith said. "The funeral could cost a little over $9,000."

Several funds have been set up to help with the costs, but Pastor Smith says suspicion from community members surrounding which funds are legitimate and where the money is going has distracted from paying respects to Barway.

WCCO asked Pastor Smith to clarify if enough money for the funeral has been raised, and if so, where the rest of the money will go. He says he's not in charge of the money.

"I can never tell people to stop giving," Smith said. "The money is not coming to me."

When asked who the money would go to after funeral cost, Smith says, "That's a decision that would have to be made."

WCCO talked with the owners of Estes Funeral Chapel who say they have not yet been paid anything.

"We have a body that needs to be buried," Smith said.

He says the focus now should be on saying goodbye to Barway and healing a community for which tragedy led to suspicion and division.

"Money is the root of all evil and that's how people can lose their respect," Smith said.

OLM, a Liberian organization in charge of two funds, says they will have an answer Wednesday about how much money has been raised and where the rest will go – and if they will try to pay to get Barway's mother here for the funeral.

Pastor Smith says he thinks any extra money should go to Barway's siblings.

There have been some questions about whether donations are actually going to the funeral expenses, and concerns about strangers setting up accounts under Barway's name with the intention to keep the money for themselves.

Crystal police say they don't want to comment on any of the funds at this time.

The Hennepin County Sheriff's office has not responded to our request for a comment.


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