Local News

UPDATE: Preliminary Not Guilty Pleas in the Death of 3-year-old Owen Collins

WELLS COUNTY, Ind. (WOWO, AP): Preliminary not guilty pleas have been issued for the Blutffton couple charged in the death of 3-year-old Owen Collins.

The charges filed against 30-year-old Zachary Barnes and 21-year-old Breanna Arnold include neglect, abuse of a corpse, obstruction of justice and altering the scene of death. Both Arnold and Barnes made initial court appearances Thursday afternoon.

The Associated Press reports Arnold and Barnes admitted to using methamphetamine Friday night before the boy's death. Barnes said in an interview with detectives that the three were “shooting dope” and nobody in the home called police because they were scared.

Instead, the court documents say the three encased the boy's body in plastic wrap and put him in a drawer in the bedroom.

Barnes also said they would put “dope” in the children's drinks so that they could “watch them have fun.”

In charging documents released by prosecutors, both Arnold and Barnes are also accused of exposing Owen to methamphetamine, the chemicals used to make methamphetamine and the opportunity for him to obtain and ingest the drugs, which “resulted in the death” of the child.

Court documents say that at one point, the idea of “chopping him up and throwing him into the river” was discussed, but the two decided instead to put him in a cardboard box and take him to the wooded area.

Another woman who was unaware of the death drove Barnes and the youth to the wooded area, where Barnes doused the box with nail polish remover and set on it fire, according to the court documents.

The body was discovered Sunday after the woman initially unaware of the death led investigators to the wooded area where the box with the body was burned.

Arnold and Barnes both were being held on $300,000 bonds at the Wells County Jail in Bluffton. They have also been appointed attorneys.

The teen is being held at a juvenile detention center on one count of abuse of a corpse.  The body hasn't been positively identified by coroners, nor has a cause of death been determined.


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