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Now the search is for Barway Collins' killer

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A police officer looked out the window Sunday.
A police officer looked out of the window in the apartment building where the family of Barway Collins lives in Crystal on Sunday.
Peter Cox | MPR News

Updated: 9 p.m. | Posted: 3:15 p.m.

The search for Barway Collins has now become a homicide investigation,  Crystal police chief Stephanie Revering said at a press conference Sunday afternoon. She would not comment on the evidence that led the police and medical examiner to rule it a homicide.

The Hennepin County Medical Examiner confirmed earlier Sunday afternoon that a body found in the Mississippi River Saturday is that of the 10-year-old Barway. 

Revering said that Barway's father, Pierre Collins, remains a focus of the investigation. 

Barway Collins
The Crystal Police Department sought the public's help locating Barway Edwin Collins of Crystal.
Courtesy of Bureau of Criminal Apprehension

She added that authorities have electronic evidence that shows Pierre Collins was in the area at the time the boy disappeared. She did not elaborate on the nature of that evidence.

"This location is consistent with our knowledge of Pierre Collins' activities on March 18 and he remains a primary suspect," Revering said Sunday.

Police have not arrested or charged Collins, and he remains in his home. Revering said authorities have his passport to ensure he stays in the country.

Revering said that Crystal police continue to believe Collins has been "less than truthful" with investigators. 

A vigil for Barway Collins
Pierre Collins, Barway's father, and Yamah Collins, his stepmother, stood with supporters at a vigil Monday, March 23 in Crystal.
Jeff Wheeler | Star Tribune via AP

Revering said that police are watching the apartment building where the Collins family lives, and that the other children in the family are in the care of their mother in the family apartment.

Outside the apartment complex, several church and West African community leaders spoke to the media and to community members who gathered. "The family is grief stricken," said the Rev. Harding Smith, the Collins family's pastor. "The family has a sense of loss. The family needs the community now more than ever."

Smith said he believes justice will come to whoever took Barway's life. "Whoever perpetrated this crime, your days are numbered," he added. "You will be brought to justice. It doesn't matter who you are. This is a child. The life of a child that was taken. You have to be a monster to perpetrate such acts."  

Victoria Peabody, a leader in the Liberian community, was among the volunteers who had searched for Barway. She said she was heartbroken by the confirmation of his death. "As a mother, I don't know how to go home right now to look at my kids," she said. "It's devastating, it's so devastating."  

Liberian community leaders spoke to reporters.
Seyon Nyanwleh, a Liberian community leader, Mamadee Sesay, the executive director of the Organization of Liberians in Minnesota, and Rev. Harding Smith, the spokesman for Barway Collins' family, spoke outside the family's apartment.
Peter Cox | MPR News

Since Barway disappeared, there have been posters and requests for information on social media and volunteers searching the area near the boy's home on the 5400 block of Douglas Drive North in Crystal and a park along the river.  

Searchers at the  North Mississippi Regional Park in Brooklyn Center called 911 at 1 p.m. Saturday, saying that there appeared to be a body several yards from shore, said Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek at a brief press conference late Saturday afternoon.

Sheriff's deputies arrived at the park at 53rd and Lyndale and found a body about 10 feet from shore.

Barway was last seen after school March 18. Video surveillance from his apartment complex shows he was about to go inside, but then turned around as if  called by someone he knew, and he walked away, police said last month.

A memorial for Barway Collins outside his home.
A makeshift memorial for Barway Collins sat outside of the Crystal apartment complex where he lived on Sunday.
Peter Cox | MPR News

The boy's father reported Barway missing about 4:30 p.m. March 18.

While police are investigating the death as a homicide, a substantial mystery remains. The manner and cause of death have yet to be determined, and an arrest may depend on that outcome.