Memorial service commemorated the 10-year-old’s life
By Laci Gagliano
Sun Post Newspapers
Saturday, March 18 marked two years since Barway Collins, a 10-year-old Crystal boy, went missing. After a two-week search, his body was found in the Mississippi River, and his father, Pierre Collins, rapidly became a suspect in Barway’s death. Collins, 33, later pleaded guilty to killing his son and was sentenced to 40 years in prison.
Around a dozen people gathered at Barway’s grave on the sunny afternoon of the two-year anniversary, including his biological mother, Louise Karluah, and his stepmother, Yamah Collins. Members of the Minnesota Community Policing Services, the memorial’s organizers, were also present, including officer David A. Singleton, who officiated the service.
A chilly breeze laced the somber setting and carried the graveside worship music coming from a small speaker placed near the headstone. People wiped away tears as community policing officer Gayle Nelson read a card from Barway’s former classmates aloud. Missing persons advocate Shelia Bradley-Smith delivered words of hope that Barway’s case can serve as a wake-up call for people to band together to find people who are missing and, moreover, to pay attention to potential domestic violence cases. Bradley-Smith runs a local chapter of the organization Minnesota United for Missing Persons and spearheaded the search that discovered Barway’s body in the river.
“If you see something, say something,” Bradley-Smith said. “It takes the community. Often times, people say, ‘well, maybe I shouldn’t get involved,’ or ‘that’s what the police are for.’ But the police cannot solve a case without the proper information from the community leading to an arrest.”
Victoria Peabody of the Organization for Liberians in Minnesota also said some tearful words before Nelson presented Karluah and Yamah Collins with memorial gifts, packaged in blue to commemorate Barway’s favorite color. At the end of the service, people placed bright flowers in the vase atop the headstone.