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Bail raised for couple accused in death of 3-year-old boy

BLUFFTON, Ind. (WANE) – The couple facing a litany of felony charges in connection to the death of a 3-year-old boy whose body was found burned in a woods in rural Wells County appeared in court on Monday.

Breanna Arnold, 21, was the mother of the victim, Owen Collins. Zachary Barnes, 30, is her boyfriend. They both appeared in court on Monday and were formally charged with dealing methamphetamine. Their bail was also raised by $50,000 to $350,000.

The Wells County Coroner is still awaiting toxicology results in the death of 3-year-old Owen Collins, who was found dead in mid-January. Those can take up to eight weeks to process, according to officials.

A 16-year-old is also charged in connection to Owen’s death. A motion to try the teenager as an adult should be decided by mid-May. NewsChannel 15 is not identifying the juvenile or displaying images of the teenager due to his age unless it is decided that he will be tried as an adult.

Current charges faced by Barnes and Arnold

  • Neglect of a dependent resulting in death – level 1 felony
  • Two counts of neglect of a dependent – level 5 felony
  • Obstruction of justice – level 6 felony
  • Altering the scene of death – level 6 felony
  • Abuse of a corpse – level 6 felony
  • Dealing in Methamphetamine – level 4 felony
  • Details of the case

Collins’ body was found January 18 by police after he had been reported missing.

According to information gathered by police after interviewing the three suspects, they were all “shooting dope” in their Normandy Drive home that Friday night into Saturday morning. The suspects told police that when Arnold went into the back bedroom on Saturday to check on 3-year-old Owen Collins and his 6-year-old-brother, Owen was dead.

Barnes admitted to police that they would sometimes put “dope in [the children’s] bottles and watch them have fun.”

After finding Owen dead, Barnes said he suggested they get rid of him.

Barnes and the teen told police they wrapped the child in plastic wrap and placed him into a dresser drawer. On Sunday morning, he and the teenager put Owen in a cardboard box and got a ride from a woman to Marion. The woman told police Barnes put the cardboard box into the back seat. The woman said she didn’t know what was in the box.

Police were told that before arriving in Marion, the three stopped at a wooded area and Barnes and the teen dropped off the box with Collins in it. Barnes said he then poured nail polish on the box and set it on fire.

While in Marion, Barnes spoke to his brother, Joseph Barnes, and told him that Owen had gone missing. Joseph Barnes called the Wells County Sheriff’s Department and asked if any children had been reported missing. None had, but the Wells County Sheriff’s Department said they would look into Owen’s disappearance.

Police arrived at the Normandy Drive home around 12:30 p.m. Owen was nowhere to be found. Officers took Arnold to the police station with her 6-year-old son, where she signed consent forms allowing police to search the home.

Meanwhile, Marion Police were asked to help track down Barnes and they were able to locate the car with Barnes, the teenager and the woman who had given them a ride that morning.

After explaining what she knew, the woman went with officers to help them find the area where Owen’s body had been taken. She is not facing charges.

The cause of Owen’s death has not yet been determined as the coroner is awaiting the results of toxicology