Slideshow: Remembering Barway Collins two years later

People gather around Barway Collins grave March 18 to remember the 10-year-old on the two-year anniversary of his disappearance, as officer David A. Singleton delivers the service. (Sun Post photos by Laci Gagliano)
Community officer Gayle Nelson hugs Yamah Collins after presenting her and Louise Karluah, left,  with a memorial gift. Missing persons advocate Shelia Bradley-Smith speaks about communities uniting to find missing persons. Bradley-Smith got involved with coordinating searches after her two nieces disappeared 15 years ago in Chicago. A tearful Victoria Peabody speaks at the memorial service. David A. Singleton reads a commemoration at Barway Collins’ graveside March 18. Yamah Collins places flowers in a vase at Barway Collins’ grave at the end of the service.
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People gather around Barway Collins grave March 18 to remember the 10-year-old on the two-year anniversary of his disappearance, as officer David A. Singleton delivers the service. (Sun Post photos by Laci Gagliano)

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.