HOUSTON--The man suspected of setting his young neighbor on fire was released from prison Tuesday morning after serving time for a separate crime.
Don Collins has long been the main suspect in the horrific attack on Robbie Middleton and his subsequent death.
Collins, imprisoned for failing to register as a sex offender, walked out a free man, never charged in Middleton’s 1998 assault.
Middleton was doused in gasoline and set on fire in Splendora. At the time, Collins was only 13-years-old.
While Collins was in a state prison in Woodinville he told 11 News, "I don’t remember everything I said that day. I was young. I enjoyed the attention."
Middleton’s mother Colleen is angry. "I guess I’ll forever have hard feelings against Montgomery County for not doing anything," she said.
Authorities did not seek assault charges back then, saying there was conflicting testimony from Middleton, who was heavily medicated because of his burns.
Thirteen years later, dying from those burns, Middleton gave an unnerving deposition about Collins.
"[Collins] pulled my clothes down and started raping me," he said and went on to testify Collins set him on fire two weeks later.
Middleton’s sister Heather says that’s why he was burned: "To keep him quiet about being raped."
Collins was convicted of sexually assaulting a different eight-year-old boy, a cousin.
The death in 2011 was ruled a homicide, opening the door for a murder charge. But because Collins was a child back then, legal technicalities have kept prosecutors from charging him.
"What are they going to do? Wait until he attacks another child and then they’ll be able to prosecute him?" said Colleen Middleton.
In the meantime, the wait for Robbie Middleton’s family has not gotten any easier.
"I miss him so much," said his sister.
The Montgomery County Attorney has asked for an opinion from the State Attorney General on pursuing murder charges and is awaiting the reply. Collins maintains he is innocent of the attack on Middleton.