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TDCJ says DNA linking escaped inmate to area where family of 5 were killed came back after killings

CENTREVILLE, TX – The Texas Department of Criminal Justice confirmed Wednesday that DNA that was taken from a nearby cabin two days before the death of the Collins family of five returned after the murders.

Gonzalo Lopez, who had killed on behalf of Mexican drug cartels, escaped from a prison bus on May 12 after breaking free from his restraints and a caged area of ​​the vehicle. Lopez stabbed and injured the bus driver before escaping to a wooded area near Centerville, between Dallas and Houston.

Around 6 p.m. on Thursday, June 2, authorities attended a home near Centerville for a welfare check and discovered five bodies. In a statement, their family identified the five killed as Mark Collins, 66, and his four grandsons: Waylon Collins, 18; Carson Collins, 16; Hudson Collins, 11; and Bryson Collins, 11. Waylon, Carson and Hudson were brothers and Bryson was their cousin.

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Investigators say Lopez stole an AR-15 type rifle and pistol from the family ranch, as well as a truck he drove about 220 miles to Atascosa County, south of San Antonio, where officers shot him dead on Thursday evening.

On Wednesday, TDCJ confirmed that the DNA was taken from a burglarized cabin next to where the Collins family was staying two days before the murders.

Neighbors were reportedly upset, saying they weren’t told the DNA collected from the cabin belonged to Lopez, and said Mark wouldn’t have brought his family there if he had known the killer convicted was still at large in the area.

The TDCJ said confirmation of DNA evidence did not come back to them until late Thursday, which by then investigators believe the family had already been killed.

The investigation is still ongoing.

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