'We're going to be OK': Community pays respects to family of five killed by an escaped inmate

Gonzalo Lopez, the inmate who escaped from a prison transport bus in May, is believed to have killed the family.

Saturday, June 11, 2022
Community pays respects to family of five killed by an escaped inmate
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Saturday's service was filled with tears but also laughter as the community remembered a grandfather and four boys who lit up their world.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A large crowd filled Champion Forest Baptist Church for the Collins in northwest Harris County.

Five caskets were covered in flowers, and four were draped with jerseys.

The service is to remember Mark Collins and his four grandsons - siblings Waylon, Carson, Hudson, and their cousin Bryson.

Saturday's service was filled with tears but also laughter as the community remembered a grandfather and four boys who lit up their world.

In front of a packed church, the family admitted that there is only one word to describe their feelings- devastation.

"This is devastation," said Chris Collins, who lost his father and all three of his sons, sharing his pain but taking time to comfort the crowd.

"And while we're hurting more than we could ever possibly imagine, we will be OK," said Chris Collins.

Mark Collins is remembered as an excellent man devoted to his faith, family, and friends.

Waylon, who had just graduated from Tomball High School, was a charismatic, baseball-loving leader, idolized by his younger brothers and cousins.

Carson, who at just 16 years old was described as a man among boys, was tender-hearted and loved football.

Hudson was the 11-year-old snuggler. He was intelligent, empathetic, and loved golf. Hudson was baptized in the family pool just days before his death.

And 11-year-old Bryson, who was everyone's best friend, loved being a big brother and who, for his 6th birthday, requested a Jesus-themed party.

The family is leaning into that faith.

"Even that night before we had all the information and knew anything, I looked up at my backyard, and I said, 'God tell me my babies are OK.' And 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 I'd ever had in my entire life," Chris Collins said.

The communities in Tomball and Magnolia pour love and comfort into this family, and in return, Chris shares their deep gratitude.

"And the love that's been shown to our family has been one of the most overwhelming things we've ever experienced. And we thank you for that. And we thank you for your continued prayers and love and friendships," Chris Collins said.

A week after law enforcement discovered the bodies of a Houston-area grandfather and his four young grandsons, medical examiners disclosed that all five died of gunshot and stab wounds.

Homicide was ruled as the manner of death for Mark Collins and his grandsons - Waylon, Carson, Hudson, and Bryson Collins, according to the Southwest Institute of Forensic Sciences in Dallas.

Authorities believe their deaths are tied to inmate Gonzalo Lopez's flight from the law after he broke free from a prison transport bus last month. It's believed that Lopez broke into several homes in Leon County, which is halfway between Houston and Dallas, including a family ranch belonging to the Collins.

A law enforcement source told Eyewitness News that Lopez's fingerprints were found at the Collins' home.

That connection was the driving force behind investigators returning to the home in Centerville. Several agencies, including lead investigators and the Texas Rangers, performed a walkthrough and investigated what may have happened at the ranch.

As for the Collins' autopsies, medical examiners gave distinguishing remarks for three victims. The documentation showed that Mark, 66, died of a gunshot wound to the abdomen and sharp force injuries.

Waylon, 18, a recent Tomball High School grad, also had sharp force injuries but suffered a gunshot wound to the back. Bryson, one of two 11-year-olds killed, died of a stab wound in the back.

"Gunshot wounds and stab wounds" were listed for the deaths of 16-year-old Carson and 11-year-old Hudson.

All five people listed their date of death as June 2, 2022.

SEE ALSO: Texas prison officials suspend inmate transports as Gonzalo Lopez's escape under review

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