Skip to main content

The Journal Gazette

  • Rebecca S. Green | The Journal Gazette A mobile home in Bluffton is the home of 3-year-old Owen Collins, missing since Saturday. A body found in rural Wells County fits his description.

  • Courtesy: Wells County Sheriff's Department Zachary Barnes

  • Courtesy: Wells County Sheriff's Department Breanna Arnold

Wednesday, March 16, 2016 4:57 pm

Grisly discovery leads to arrests

Rebecca S. Green The Journal Gazette

BLUFFTON – The sign on the trailer door is a tell.

Blaze orange with the Indiana State Police logo on it, the document is taped to the front door where 3-year-old Owen Collins once came in and out.

It is taped to the door of a place the little blond-haired, blue-eyed boy lived with his mother and her boyfriend. It is not a symbol that should adorn any home where any children live – anywhere.

The orange sign speaks of a home filled with the chemicals used to make methamphetamine. It is a warning to stay away.

But it was Owen Collins’ home, and when Bluffton police went to the trailer in the 500 block of Normandy Drive to check on those who lived there, they could not find the child.

No one had seen him since 8 p.m. Saturday, according to Bluffton police.

About 24 hours later, Bluffton police and Indiana State Police officers found a small body in a wooded area in rural Wells County. It fit the description of the missing toddler – the blond hair, the blue eyes, all of 3 feet and 1 inch tall.

No one will know for sure whether that abused body is that of Owen until an autopsy is completed. But law enforcement officials acted as if it was him, arresting those who were to have been caring for the toddler.

Owen’s mother, 21-year-old Breanna J. Arnold of Bluffton, faces a preliminary charge of neglect of a dependent resulting in death. Her boyfriend, 30-year-old Zachary S. Barnes, also of Bluffton, is accused of neglect of a dependent resulting in death.

But Barnes is also charged with abuse of a corpse, as is an unnamed 16-year-old male from Marion. He is being held in a juvenile facility.

On his Facebook page, at 12:07 Sunday afternoon, just moments before police began looking for Owen, whom no one had seen for hours, Barnes changed his profile picture – wearing a floppy hat and headphones and staring into the camera.

Barnes and Arnold are scheduled to appear in court today for their initial hearings.

Their mobile home sat darkened Tuesday evening, that orange sign standing in sharp contrast to the dreary mess of upended toys and a stroller near the taupe-colored front door.

rgreen@jg.net