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Pierre Collins: Trail of trouble before arrest in son's death

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Pierre Collins, the Crystal man suspected of killing his 10-year-old son, was dealing with a variety of financial and family problems before he was charged earlier this week in Barway Collins' death, according to published reports.

The Star Tribune says Collins was facing financial problems because he was unemployed and was recently ordered to resume paying child support for four of his children after a messy divorce from his ex-wife.

Collins was relying on insurance company settlements after several car accidents to help make ends meet, and one of those insurance companies sued him, accusing him of fraud, the newspaper reports.

In addition, he is also being investigated in connection with a fire at a Brooklyn Center apartment complex late last year, for which he filed another insurance claim, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Collins, 33, was charged with second-degree murder after the body of Barway Collins was found last weekend in the Mississippi River in north Minneapolis. The boy had been missing for nearly four weeks.

Police have indicated that money may have been a motive for the killing, because Collins had two insurance policies taken out on Barway, one of which was worth $30,000. On March 16, two days before Barway went missing, Collins made a payment on the policy and inquired about raising the coverage to $50,000.

The second insurance policy covers Collins for $100,000 and his dependents, including Barway, for $20,000 each.

Questions about insurance claims

According to the Pioneer Press, Collins and his family were living at the River Glen apartment complex in Brooklyn Center last November when a fire broke out there in a unit on the first floor. Collins filed a claim on his renter's insurance shortly after the blaze, the paper said.

The cause of the fire was originally thought to be accidental, but the Brooklyn Center fire chief told the Pioneer Press the investigation is still open.

In the case of the car accident, Collins filed a claim last year for $27,000 in medical expenses and lost wages, saying he couldn't work because of injuries he suffered.

But the insurance company sued him for fraud, saying he had made similar claims in at least two other car accidents he had reported in recent years, according to the Star Tribune.

The case was moved to arbitration, where Collins received a $9,000 judgment, the Pioneer Press reports.

Pierre Collins has denied any involvement in Barway's disappearance or death, according to police.

Police say they have video and cellphone tracking evidence that shows on March 18, the day Barway disappeared, Pierre Collins twice went to the same area of the Mississippi River where the boy's body was later found.

Collins' next court appearance is May 14. He remains in jail on $2 million bond, and faces at least 40 years in prison if convicted of second-degree murder.

Hennepin County prosecutors say they are likely to take the case to a grand jury in hopes of upping the charge to first-degree murder.

About 200 people attended a vigil for Barway Saturday afternoon near the apartment complex where he lived in Crystal, according to KSTP. Another vigil is scheduled for Sunday at 2 p.m. at the park where his body was found.

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