YOU NEVER CLOSE A MISSING PERSONS CASE SOMEBODY ALWAYS KNOWS SOMETHING AND AFTER 30 YEARS THIS CASE HAS COME TO A CLOSE
‘You never close a missing person’s case’
Ala. man confesses to 30-year-old Minerva murder, tells police location of the body
By NATHAN BROWN, Enterprise Staff Writer
POSTED: July 22, 2010t
From left, state police Cpt. John Tibbitts, Cpt. Robert LaFountain,
Essex County District Attorney Kristy Sprague and Lt. Brent Davison at a
press conference at state police headquarters in Ray Brook Wednesday
about Thomas Collard’s arrest for allegedly murdering his wife 30 years
RAY BROOK - A 30-year-old missing person's case just culminated with Thomas Anthony Collard's arrest for murder, one of the longest-running investigations in the state to reach such a resolution, according to state police.
Collard, now 62, who moved to Samson, Ala. in 1994, used to live in Olmstedville in the town of Minerva. He reported his estranged wife June Marion Collard missing on Nov. 27, 1980. State police investigators recently traveled to Alabama to investigate the case, and on Tuesday, police said, Collard confessed to her murder and told investigators where in Olmstedville he disposed of her body.
"This arrest is a culmination of years of investigation by present and past members of the New York State Police," Cpt. Robert LaFountain said at a press conference at state police Troop "B" headquarters Thursday.
"You never close a missing person's case," said Cpt. John Tibbitts, Troop "B" Zone 3 commander. "You're always looking for that one bit of evidence that's going to give us resolution," going over photographs, files and records of interviews.
Investigators had been in fairly regular contact with Thomas Collard over the past 30 years, LaFountain said. He said those years of work and documentation, including evidence of "fabrications he had given to police and other people to explain her disappearance," led to the recent break in the case.
Thomas Collard waived extradition proceedings in Alabama and was flown into the area Wednesday evening, arraigned in Elizabethtown town court and remanded to Essex County Jail without bail. He is scheduled to reappear for a felony preliminary hearing on Monday. He is being charged with second-degree murder. More charges could follow.
New York State Police didn't say anything about the circumstances of the murder. However, Geneva County, Ala. Sheriff Greg Ward told the Dothan Eagle newspaper that Thomas Collard told investigators that June struck her head on something after he hit her in an argument.
"I've known him since 1994," Ward told the Eagle. "He said 'sheriff, I just want to get it over with. I've lived with it long enough.'"
Tibbitts said Thomas Collard gave an "approximate search area" to look for June Collard's remains. He said the search would begin shortly but couldn't give a timeframe, saying police would need to be more certain of the area's geography and topography first. He said it was in Olmstedville but didn't give any further details of the area.
"We went through this together, and we're going to come out of this together," said Tammy Vanderwerker, one of three children of Thomas and June Collard. She didn't comment further, saying she wanted to wait until her siblings, Thomas and Candy, were with her.
Tammy Vanderwerker was 8 years old at the time of her mother's disappearance; Thomas was 9 and Candy was 7. Tammy lived in Olmstedville until she was 12, when she went into foster care in Elizabethtown, and her siblings went to live with relatives.