HOUSTON — Family, friends and a community said goodbye to four boys and their grandfather who investigators said were killed by an escaped inmate in Centerville earlier this month.
Mark Collins, 66, along with 18-year-old Waylon Collins, 16-year-old Carson Collins, 11-year-old Hudson Collins and 11-year-old Bryson Collins were remembered during a funeral service at Champion Forest Baptist Church on Saturday morning.
Hundreds of people attended the public funeral, which was more than a two-hour-long celebration of the five lives, as well as an invitation to practice the faith the victims’ family members say is supporting them.
“This is devastation,” said Chris Collins, the father of Waylon, Carson and Hudson. “While we are hurting more than we could possibly imagine, we will be OK.”
Collins and other family members called the murder an act of evil.
“Even that night before, we had all the information ... I looked up in my backyard, and I said, ‘God, tell me my babies are OK,’” Collins said. “Almost audibly, I could hear, ‘They’re OK. I’ve got them. They’re OK.’ No, it was not the ‘OK’ that a flesh-and-blood father wanted, but in that moment, I had the most supernatural peace that I’d ever had in my entire life.”
Family members said they’ve been overwhelmed by the love shown to them from around the nation during their time of overwhelming loss.
“We could literally open up three restaurants with all the food that you guys have donated,” Michael Collins said.
Michael Collins is the oldest brother of Mark Collins.
“He’s a man of faith,” Michael Collins said. “Integrity, honesty, trustworthy, charitable, fair. A man of his word.”
Pastor Robert Stokes, of Magnolia Cowboy Church, said the grandchildren enjoyed sports, loved their family and led by example.
“There’s a trend happening here,” Stokes said. “A great heart for people. They loved people well.”
And, Chris Collins said, they had faith.
“Each and every one of them did, in fact, have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ,” he said. “That’s where we get our peace. We will see them again.”
The family held a private burial following the funeral.
Last night, the Collins family was honored at a visitation at Houston Northwest Church. Mourners wore blue ribbons to show their support.
Family of faith
The Collins family is known for their strong ties to the church and their "unrelenting faith."
The brother of Mark Collins said family members remain strong and unwavering during this time.
"My short message is: God is still God and we're not -- and there's a purpose in this, no doubt," Glenn Collins said.
A GoFundMe has been set up for the family. If you want to help, here is the link.