Anchorage man charged in girlfriend's death

Posted: Sunday, December 15, 2002

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- An Anchorage man is accused killing his live-in girlfriend in October.

Police charged Charles Collins Friday with first- and second-degree murder as well as evidence tampering in the beating death of Cynthia Barnes.

Collins, a 36-year-old day laborer with a history of petty crime, was already in jail when charges were filed, serving time in an unrelated vandalism case.

Collins and Barnes had known each other about eight months, and Collins had been in jail for six of them, said detective Bob Glen.

According to documents filed in the case, a friend, Betty Gardenhire, picked up Barnes, 47, from her Mountain View apartment on Oct. 2 to go to the post office and cash her checks. She arranged to take her the next day to the phone company to pay her bill. But despite repeated calls, Gardenhire never could reach her friend again.

The same day, the couple's upstairs neighbor, Isabel Theodore, could hear Barnes screaming at Collins to get out and him saying something about rent money. The next night, a man said Collins had vandalized his vehicle at the apartment complex.

Police arrested Collins, who pleaded guilty to a reduced charge and was scheduled to be released on Dec. 21.

In the meantime, Barnes' mother became worried. She hadn't heard from her daughter. A friend, Fran Thiele, went to check on Barnes and found the apartment closed up. She called police the evening of Oct. 7. Officers found Barnes' body on the couch covered with a sheet and a sleeping bag.

Barnes had been hit multiple times in the head with an object, which hasn't been located, Glen said. The apartment had not been broken into.

The police investigation quickly focused on Collins. In his wallet, which was seized when he was booked in the vandalism case, police found Barnes' credit card pin number and keys, the Anchorage Daily News reported.

Collins told police he last saw her at noon on Oct. 3, when he said he locked her into the apartment and went to get the mail. He said he didn't have her pin number.

Collins is being held in lieu of $500,000 bail at Anchorage Jail. His previous offenses include several assaults, disorderly conduct for spitting on a police officer, public drunkenness and larceny.

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