- Associated Press - Thursday, March 26, 2015

CRYSTAL, Minn. (AP) - The father of a missing 10-year-old Minnesota boy was seen near the Mississippi River shortly after his son’s disappearance, and he is still considered a suspect in the case, police said Thursday.

Crystal Police Chief Stephanie Revering said authorities have been searching the river for Barway Collins, who disappeared after school more than a week ago. Revering said the boy’s father, Pierre Collins, continues to be untruthful as investigators try to find his son.

Revering said police have “strong evidence” that Pierre Collins was near the Mississippi River near Interstate 694 - in an area where he used to fish - between the hours of 4 and 6 p.m. on March 18. Collins reported his son was missing at 6:37 that night.

He has told reporters he had nothing to do with his son’s disappearance, and he has not been arrested or charged. At a Monday night vigil, he begged the community to keep searching.

Collins did not immediately return a phone message left Thursday by The Associated Press.

“It’s disheartening to think that he would be a suspect, or that he would have something to do with his own child’s disappearance,” said pastor Harding Smith, who has been working with the family. “I have asked him, did he do this? And he said: ‘no.’”

Barway Collins was last seen at his apartment complex. Video from the apartment’s vestibule shows that as the boy was about to go inside, he turned around as if he was called over to the parking lot by someone he knew, and he walked away, police said.

Revering said Thursday that authorities know Collins was in the proximity. They are also searching for a man Barway referred to as “uncle,” who they believe was in the area.

Revering said Thursday that Collins has still not identified that person. In the Liberian community, the term can refer to a relative or a family friend.

When asked if police believe Barway is still alive, Revering said: “We’re very hopeful he’s still alive.”

Revering said police are trying to get videos from public transit, private businesses or anyone else who may have been in the area between the hours of 4 to 6 p.m. on the day Barway disappeared. She asked anyone with video or photos to contact authorities.

Authorities did not issue an Amber alert when Barway was reported missing because the case didn’t meet the criteria. However authorities did issue a missing person alert.

“We were told information that he was safe,” Revering said. “And as time progressed, obviously we became more and more concerned.”

When asked if the father told police the boy was safe, Revering said she couldn’t comment.

The FBI, the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, and the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office are helping with the investigation, and a reward of up to $12,000 is being offered.

Smith, the pastor, said a search has been organized for noon on Saturday. Volunteers are asked to meet at Barway’s apartment complex in Crystal.

“We hope that Barway is still alive and we pray that we can get him home soon,” Smith said.


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