Thursday, July 26, 2012

Suspect's tale confusing, but lawmen charge murder

Dallas bail bonding company goes defendant's half-million dollar bail at 5 p.m. Friday afternoon

(click image for a larger view)
A shot in the dark - the target - a scream

Whitney – Edwin Odell Collins must have looked like the last nine yards of hell when he walked in the front door of the Hill County Sheriff's Office in downtown Hillsboro.

An arrest warrant says he had “numerous scratches on his arms, face and shoulder,” and the right shoulder of Mr. Collins' shirt was “torn off.”

He told deputies he had a need to speak with someone - “to make a report.”

As he talked, he told a horrific tale of terror and an entire night he and his children spent hiding in the trees along a fence line on the family's home place; the lawmen realized that “the Accused was about to escape so that there was no time to procure a warrant.”

The terrible truth came in bits and snatches, according to the deputies' affidavit, as they “attempted to obtain more information as to the location of the shooting and the body of the victim.”

The victim is Judith Collins, Mr. Collins' 15-year-old daughter.

She lay face down and dead, more than 12 miles away along the heavily wooded fenceline where Mr. Collins and his children took refuge during their long night of terror, fatally shot in the back, cut down by a blast from her father's semi-automatic shotgun.

In the laconic words of the affidavit, “E. Collins advised that he knew that he had killed his (daughter) Judith Collins and he then remained hiding in the woods with his two surviving children until daylight.”

At some point, he attempted to contact authorities through the emergency 911 system, but the cell phone dropped the call just as he began to speak to the operator.

At the time the sun arose, he and his 17-year-old son Alex and 11-year-old Logan went to the back door of the family business, a 24-hour convenience store named Collins Hitchin' Post, and asked his father if deputies had responded to a 911 call he made during the night.

When his father said no, he and his sons left the property in his vehicle and headed for the Sheriff's Office in Hillsboro.

“E. Collins advised that he did not tell his father about shooting Judith Collins nor did he call for any emergency services from the store's landline phone.”

When the lawmen were unable to get Mr. Collins to tell them exactly where the shooting took place and where to find the child's body, they took the girl's 17-year-old brother Alex with them so he could help them locate the crime scene quickly.

It was at that point that they detained E. Collins in connection with a murder investigation, in spite of his confusing story about how during the early morning hours of the night, “he thought that someone was trying to get him at his residence...”

He told them how he armed himself with the shotgun, and loaded the three kids in the family's minivan to drive toward the front of the property and the store, which is located at the corner of FM 933 and FM 1713, just north of Whitney.

They could see the lights from two flashlights, Mr. Collins said, shining on the ground while people walked through the semi-rural property in the darkness of night.

Panicked, they alighted from the vehicle and ended up “running through the fields and the woods to get away from the people and he ended up shooting his daughter and killing her,” according to an Investigator Collins, who served as the affiant I the statement Mr. Collins gave officers.

As he and his kids stood at the rear of the business, said Mr. Collins, he heard a bang he thought might be a gunshot, so they ran for the wooded area along the fence line southeast of the store in order to hide in the woods.

He ordered his children to move back about a hundred yards while he waited with his gun to kill the people with the flashlights.

When he heard “one of his daughters scream,” he “turned and shot his shotgun in the direction of the scream.”

Again, in the stony language of the investigator, the story takes its fatal turn.

“E. Collins advised that he was approximately ten feet from his daughter Judith Collins and that he shot her in the back with his semi-automatic 12 gauge shotgun.”

A magistrate set his bond at $500,000. Prosecutors will seek to prove that he “intentionally or knowingly caused the death of an individual;” or “intended to cause serious bodily injury and commited an act clearly dangerous to human life” that caused the death of an individual if a Grand Jury returns an indictment on the charge of murder.


  1. How could the grand jury not indict? Who was chasing him? Why? There are mant, many questions need and must be answered. A young girl has been killed...she deserves justice.

  2. I used the word if because, you see, the case has not yet been presented to a Grand Jury; thus, no true bill of indictment has as yet been obtained by the prosecutor. If the prosecution seeks an indictment for murder, the goal will be to convince a jury of 12 persons to return a unanimous verdict of guilt and a finding that the elements that make up that offense were perpetrated by no other person than he who was so indicted.

  3. Was killer dad on meth? Where was the mother during this insanity?

  4. Chief Deputy Girsh reportedly told newsmen at the time of the arrest that Mr. Collins did not appear to be intoxicated, under the influence of drugs, or suffering a psychiatric emergency.

    All the rest of the details are the subject of an ongoing investigation, access to which is denied the public by the Texas Open Records Act, Sect. 552 of the Texas Local Govt. Code. - The Legendary

  5. I am distressed by this story. Something is terribly makes no sense at all. I hope you will update this story as you can.

  6. But of course. I shall. If possible I will give gavel to gavel coverage on the matter the disposition of the case. As I said, the reason I have not delved further is that the rest of the information is not available due to its being part of an ongoing investigation. Now, when pre-trial hearings occur, and when the defense and prosecution begin to enter pleadings into the official Court record, there will be plenty of news. Thank you for your interest. I, too, am disturbed by this story, its tragic circumstances, and the air of mystery surrounding the shooting of this child.

  7. His dad said the police did not come, yet the Sheriff Dept. says they made contact with Collins Sr. It seemed unclear they knew where the call originated from when first reported. The Sheriff dept would to have driven by the very fence line where the family was fleeing. Is this a cover up on the part of the SDO for failing to respond to the familys plead for help?

  8. You might like to read the lead on the article again: "Whitney – Edwin Odell Collins must have looked like the last nine yards of hell when he walked in the front door of the Hill County Sheriff's Office in downtown Hillsboro..." I think the truth is, the first they heard from Mr. Collins was when he walked in the door of their offices in Hillsboro. According to the arrest affidavit, they were unable to figure out where he had shot the child and left her body. They placed him in custodial detention and took his son along to show them where the shooting took place and where the body of his child could be found. I am sorry the article is unclear on this. - The Legendary

    1. But, here in Hill county they are reporting a 911 call was received, and the SDO claims they sent an officer to the Hitchin Post and made contact with Collins Sr who said he hadnt called. Keep in mind, the store has a landline, and the call was received as a cell phone. They (SDO) report that was all they did was make contact with Sr. Your article was clear to me, and im wondering why the SDO gave two accounts of the 911 call??

    2. I will try to find out today - The Legendary

    3. Also, I wanted to add that the 911 calls starts off by saying they are down at the Hitchin Post yet when the call dropped, there was seeminly no urgency on the sheriffs dept to respond and investigate further just what the problem was. There was mention of cars on the property...why was not the entire vicinity of that area not investigated? She was alive when he called... What was their reported response time and amt of time they spent investigating the situation?

  9. You don't know if she was alive at the time of the call or not. The time of death has not be released yet. We should be looking for horses here, not zebras. The Sheriffs dept did not shoot this child....her father did. Maybe it was an accident, maybe it wasn't. Even if it was am accident there still is a reason why they were running thru s pasture at 4:30 in the morning. Mysterious people with flashlights just isn't cutting it here.

  10. I think the children of Mr. Collins are probably regarded as credible and reliable witnesses. A medical examiner or C.S.I. will only be able to give an approximate time of death, based on certain variables which are hard to measure with any exactitude.

    I must agree with you that there are many questions left unanswered, as is always true in the middle of an investigation into a homicide. It could be that the investigation will uncover enough exculpating evidence that the charge will be altered, or dropped entirely. I know it's doubtful, but until the prosecutor has obtained an indictment, it's very difficult to obtain the kind of information for public release that you are demanding.

    A newsman's best bet is to wait, and follow the story as it unfolds in testimony. It will still be news; the topic will not lose its appeal. As a newsman, I have not obligation as a finder of fact, no probative burden or responsibility to the public other than to verify the facts I do obtain before publishing them.

    I wish to thank you for your interest in these matters. I will work doubly hard to make sure I get them as they become available and publish them in these columns. - The Legendary

  11. There is no dusputing who shoot the girl as he confessed. Wheather she was alive or not at the time of the call, they failed in this situation. I want to know if I call 911, and if I cant tell them what the emergency is for whatever reason on my behalf, they will come out and find out what the issue is and serve and protect. Regardless of if you believe his story or not, he believed there was an issue and you cant tell me if that the SDO fully checked out what was going could they have prevented or ar the very least she didnt have to lay out there til Collins son led them to her.

  12. she was a very close friend to me i cry every night because she did not deserve it at all an true i think he need to serve his time in jail

  13. I would like to know why the Sheriff's Office did not go to the location of the ping they got on the cell tower. That address is not anywhere near the store, but is closer to where the young lady was shot.

  14. Whatever became of this story?

  15. I'm glad you asked that question. It seems I'm not all that welcome at the Waco Courthouse. Let's see how old Hill holds herself when I show up there. - The Legendary

  16. Chief Deputy Gersh is one of the most professional "laws" in this area. He gave it to me short and sweet. Mr. Collins' case is waiting on some forensics testing results to return from the DPS lab in Austin. When he gets that information, he intends to refer the case to the DA's office for evaluation in a possible presentation to the Grand Jury. Since the case is still under investigation, the scope and purpose of the tests are confidential for the time being. - The Legendary

  17. Thanks for the update. This case has been on mind ever since i first heard it.

  18. With pleasure. It is a very important case because of its close resemblance to a very similar happening that occurred in the valley at about the same time. - The Legendary'


  20. That is magnificent how you contrived to completely unfold the theme which you have selected for this precise blog entry of yours. BTW did you turn to any similar blog articles as a source of information to complete the entire picture which you posted in this blog post?

  21. I developed the story from the affidavit of probable cause the detectives filed in the Justice Court to obtain a warrant of arrest. I asked a minimal amount of questions of Chief Deputy Gersh of the Hill County Sheriff's Department. Almost all of the information you see here is from the public record of an offense report, an arrest report, and an affidavit of probable cause.

    None of what I have done could be described as contrived. I based my writing on the facts I obtained, and have deferred to investigators pending their presentation to the Grand Jury to obtain an indictment. The information they have witheld is not open to the public, including witness statements, chemical analyses, polygraph examinations, fingerprint analysis, ballistics reports, autopsy reports, crime scene photos, or videotapes.

    The next phase of this case will tell the story of how it will turn out. In the pleadings filed in the District Clerk's office, one may clearly see the strategy the defense attorneys will follow to try to obtain an acquittal, or a conviction of a less culpable offense, such as manslaughter or negligent homicide.

    We will learn if the defense has elected to have the case heard by a jury, and if that jury panel will be asked to assess the punishment if the accused is found guilty of the offense.

    Naturally, I'm looking forward to that because I find it fascinating. - The Legendary

  22. So....what's your you think this will ever be definitively resolved? Rarely a day as passed in the past 9 months that I have not thought about this case.

  23. Lots of folks in and around Whitney are very interested in finding out the particulars of whether or not this will be prosecuted.

  24. According to a source at the District Attorney's office who requested anonymity, there has been no indictment returned against Mr. Collins at this time. District Attorney Dan Dent was unavailable for comment. - The Legendary

  25. The Hill County Sheriff charged this man with murder, ignoring the testimony of his two other children. Who both said they were being chased. Why did they not investigate the story of the chase. Have there not been stories of home invasion attempts in this area since this incident? Have there not been arrests made of people driving in pastures near the place where the shooting occurred?

  26. Hope the investigators are looking into past complaints filed with child protective services...and please...batteries being removed from both cell phones on scene...obvious attempts at creating a cover up..the story about mysterious people chasing them...bunch of malarky...drugs will do that to a brain and kids that are afraid of their father are gonna say whatever they need to keep the peace with him..must think he is smarter than the law- bet investigators can find all kinds of skeletons in this creeps closet...thank goodness the other two kids weren't shot!


  28. Anxiously awaiting final outcome. Father was not on drugs and the sheriff department said he didn't appear to be suffering from mental defect. Calls go unanswered when family called 911. Sheriff deputy made contact with someone other that who called 911. No obvious investigation into children's story. And why did dad have full custody of kids if he was such the monster the DA and sheriff portray him as? This whole county's law system reeks and this case is proof of it.

  29. Any update as to when this is going to trial? I find it very curious that in the affidavit it states that E. Collins had numerous scratches on his arms, face, shoulder and the right shoulder of his shirt was torn off.

    Hill County authorities released a recording of a brief, but curious 911 call that was placed early on the morning of July 24 from Collins' cell phone.

    In the 911 call received at around 4:30 a.m. July 24 at the emergency call center in neighboring Bosque County, a man says, 'Hey we're down here at the Hitchin' Post and we have a bunch of cars…driving all over the property…(and) we don't know what's going on."
    (Listen To 911 Call Received By Bosque County Sheriff’s Office)

    The call was dropped as a Bosque County dispatcher was transferring it to Hill County and in a second recording released Friday, the two dispatchers can be heard discussing it.
    (Listen To Conversation Between Bosque And Hill County Dispatchers)

    An automatic system identified the number of the cell phone from which the call was placed as Collins' and a second system identified the towers through which the call was routed, Hill County Sheriff Jeffrey Lyon said.

    A Hill County deputy was dispatched to the Hitchin' Post, which is open 24 hours a day, but when he arrived, the store's owner, Ed Collins, told him there was no need for police, Lyon said.

    Lyon said Edwin Collins' cell phone was later recovered near where deputies found Judith Collins' body.

    There wasn't a battery in the phone however, and a cell phone found with the girl also was missing its battery, Lyon said.

    Neither of the batteries was found in a search of the area, he said.

  30. When they called the docket this morning in the 66th Judicial District, the only case ready for trial was a burglary of a habitation charge. The Collins case is still hanging fire with the special prosecutor. DA Mark Pratt recused himself because he assisted Collins at his arraignment… - The Legendary

  31. Whitney Man Re-Indicted On Murder Charge.
    Trial date: October 06, 2014

  32. Has the trial started?

  33. In a curious turn of events, the start of Collins' trial, previously scheduled for Monday, Oct. 6, has been delayed, yet again, in favor of a pre-trial hearing in mid-November. There is a tentative trial date of December 1 at this point. - The Legendary