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Periaktoi Writing Post

Volume 49
Issue 1

Single Visual Art Post

  • Essay
Missing Persons
Sean Zhang
Missing Persons

Part 1:

Barway Collins, an African-American 10-year-old from Crystal, Minnesota, disappeared earlier this year on March 18th after disembarking from a school van at his guardians' apartment complex (McDonough). Video surveillance shows Barway walking towards the Cedarwood apartment complex and abruptly changing paths, deliberately and with no external coercion (Chazin). Police have reason to believe that Barway’s voluntary actions indicate that he’s “with someone he knows and that he's safe,” though no reports of Barway’s whereabouts or reappearance have surfaced (Chazin). His biological father, Pierre Collins, is among the list of suspects. Pierre’s ex-wife, Jennifer Beaver, maintains that "he was very mean to [Barway] ... he's not a nice man" (McDonough). Suspicions against Pierre arose when details of his $30,000 life insurance policy emerged, to which Beaver claims "Pierre is money hungry; everything is about money” (McDonough). Local pastor, Harding Smith, has been trying to end Collins' "character assassination" by reiterating that his life insurance policy was purchased three years ago and that Beaver’s claims lack veracity as “Hennepin County attorneys couldn’t find enough evidence to charge Pierre Collins,” further encouraging "the community to ... let the justice system work." (Kare 11 Staff). Barway is described as being 5 feet tall, weighing 80 pounds and having black hair and brown eyes (Chazin).

Works Cited

Chazin, Rachel. "STILL MISSING: 10-year-old Barway Collins of Crystal, Minn." KMSP-TV., 20 Mar. 2015. Web. 09 Apr. 2015.

McDonough, Beth. "Conflicting Views of Father of Missing Crystal Boy Emerge." ABC Eyewitness News, 07 Apr. 2015. Web. 09 Apr. 2015.

Kare 11 Staff. “Family of Barway Collins Asks for Re-focus of Search." KARE. Kare 11 News, 07 Apr. 2015. Web. 09 Apr. 2015.

Part 2:

Child abuse occurs “when a caregiver either fails to provide appropriate care, purposefully inflicts harm, or harms a child while disciplining him or her” (Dryden-Edwards). According to the MedicineNet, millions upon millions of children suffer from mistreatment every year. Often times, abuse leads to a “lack of trust” (Smith, Segal) in the victim, especially when abused by a parent or guardian. According to Pam Fessler of NPR, legislative failure to enforce laws against child abuse promote its occurrence in households around the US. The Children’s Advocacy Institute held a three-year study which concluded that “not one state has met all of the minimum child welfare standards set by the federal government ... [which] include such things as timely investigation of reports of child abuse” (Fessler). The aforementioned “lack of trust” may tie in with the case of Barway Collins; if Collins was in fact abused as much his stepmother, Jennifer Beaver, claims her interview with ABC Eyewitness News, the probability that Collins attempted to flee from his father greatly increases. In Beth McDonough’s interview, Beaver claimed that Collins “was very mean to [Barway]” that “he’s not a nice man” and that for Pierre, “everything is about money.” These claims may derive solely from Beaver’s emotions and negative sentiments towards Pierre Collins, but if they hold any veracity, they provide a whole new dimension to the entire case.

Works Cited

Melinda Smith, M.A., and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D. "Child Abuse and Neglect." Child Abuse & Neglect: Recognizing, Preventing, & Reporting Child Abuse., Feb. 2015. Web. 15 Apr. 2015.

Dryden-Edwards, Roxanne, M.D. "Child Abuse: Get the Facts on Statistics and Symptoms." MedicineNet. MedicineNet, Inc., 17 Dec. 2014. Web. 15 Apr. 2015.

Fessler, Pam. "Child Abuse And Neglect Laws Aren't Being Enforced, Report Finds." NPR. NPR, 27 Jan. 2015. Web. 15 Apr. 2015.

McDonough, Beth. "Conflicting Views of Father of Missing Crystal Boy Emerge." ABC Eyewitness News, 07 Apr. 2015. Web. 09 Apr. 2015.

Part 3:

They only knew that he walked off of the bus. Where he went after, no one was sure. Cameras caught footage of him making a sharp left turn but the location of Christopher Watkins was a mystery to everyone: the police, his friends, and most importantly his father and stepmother. Christopher, or “Topher” as his friends at school dubbed him, was always a shy boy. “Topher” differentiated him from “Chris” Connelly, a much taller much more social child who happened to live in the same neighborhood and ride the same bus as Topher. When the news vans arrived and beautiful white women with makeup and oversized microphones descended from their vehicles like goddesses off of chariots, they asked Chris’s parents what they knew of Topher.

“I mean... he was always a sweet boy”

“Very kind very smart an- and he was very quiet” “Never did no harm to nobody”

When the news vans left they took with them the interest surrounding the case. Eventually, people stopped sending well-wishing cards to Topher’s step-mother, Elaine, and detectives stopped interrogating Topher’s father, Frank. People had always viewed Frank as an abusive father. Topher would show up to school with bruises on his cheeks that told more than his transparent excuses and circuitous explanations. People had always viewed Elaine as Frank’s better half. Elaine provided a voice of reason for Frank’s acts of fury. She would go into the bedroom with Frank for hours only to let out scream after scream, each yelp occurring instantaneously with the thumping sound of Frank’s fists on her soft flesh and then slowly delaying after each hit as Elaine grew weaker and less responsive and slumped towards the unconscious. Topher could only imagine the worst. People weren’t all too surprised when Elaine left Frank, three months before Topher disappeared.

“I’m glad she’s finally out of there” “Did she take the boy?”

“I’m pretty sure she took the boy”

She didn’t take the boy. But she had plans to do so. Elaine contacted an attorney, Al Johann, to scheme and ultimately gain custody of Topher. In her conversations with Al she exuded fear and anxiety, believing that if Frank were to ever find out about her plan, he would stop at nothing to hurt both her and Topher in whatever ways he could. She had planned to leave their small town of Aurora Springs and to travel all the way to the South, hoping that its boundless heat and humidity would form a barrier between Frank and them. Dallas, Atlanta, Birmingham were the cities she listed for Al.

“You’re playing a risky game”

“I know”

“Do you? All I’m saying is you need to be careful. Go through the courts and let them figure out what to do with Frank”

Their conversations lasted for a few weeks until Elaine received the phone call from the Sheriff’s Department that Topher had been reported missing. She collapsed to the floor.