Family of Texas fugitive’s victims face ‘unimaginable grief’


(NewsNation) — The capture of an escaped murderer came too late for one Texas family.

Texas police killed Gonzalo Lopez Thursday night, but not before he killed five members of the Collins family: Mark, 66; Waylon, 18; Carson, 16; Bryson, 11; and Hudson, 11. They were at a vacation home in Centerville, Texas when police say Lopez broke in and murdered them, and then stole their guns and truck.

Andy Kahan, director of victim services and advocacy for Crime Stoppers Houston, says it’s one of the worst cases he’s ever managed in 30 years on the job.

“Just when you think you’ve seen it all, you haven’t,” Kahan said on “NewsNation Prime” Friday. “This is unimaginable grief.”

Some are questioning whether police did enough to keep the Centerville community informed of the danger Lopez represented. He broke out of a prison bus on May 12.

Robert and Melanie Tieperman live in the same community where Lopez escaped. They say the command center that officials set up for their search was 4,000 feet away from the home of the victims.

“(Officials) could have easily let everyone in the area know to be on high alert. No one heard anything. I know that if the Collins family knew, there is absolutely no way that they would have been up there,” Robert said during an appearance Friday night on NewsNation’s “Banfield.”

Thursday, Melanie shared her perspective with Banfield as a neighbor of the victims, though NewsNation withheld her last name while the search for Lopez continued.

She said that when the manhunt started, there were several guards blocking highway entrances every hundred feet.

“But then, next thing you know, they disappear completely,” Melanie said. “There were no more briefings, not only for (the media), but no law enforcement were really giving us any updates regarding the search whatsoever.”

Before Lopez was found and killed, a Texas law enforcement spokesperson promised a thorough review.

“Anytime that you have someone that escapes custody, that is absolutely something that we have to go back to the drawing board and figure out what happened,” Texas Department of Criminal Justice Chief of Staff Jason Clark said Thursday evening.

Kahan said the neighbors and family deserve an explanation on what may have gone wrong.

“I cannot even fathom what must be going through this family’s mind,” Kahan said.

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