A former custodial supervisor for city schools was found guilty yesterday in the murder of his lover, who was a custodian at Southeast Middle School.
Frank E. Collins Sr., 44, of the 4400 block of Moravia Road was found guilty in Baltimore Circuit Court of first-degree murder in the shooting death of Barbara A. Thrower, 44, last Nov. 26 in a basement electrical room at Southeast Middle School.
Collins, who managed the custodial staffs at 12 schools, including Southeast, had been seeing Ms. Thrower for some time before hermurder, even though he was married and continued to live with his wife, said Assistant State's Attorney H. Jerome Briscoe. He also was seeing at least two other women at the time, the prosecutor said.
The crux of the circumstantial case against Collins lay in a telephone call he made to his supervisor after the staff at Southeast asked him to come to the school immediately because there was a problem with Ms. Thrower.
"He calls his supervisor and says a woman has been found on the floor of the electrical room. Bingo, we got him," Mr. Briscoe said. The staff had not told Collins that Ms. Thrower was dead or where she had been found, the prosecutor said.
Collins had dropped off Ms. Thrower at the school the day of hermurder as he always had done. Her body was discovered by an air-conditioning repairman at 1:30 p.m. Her pockets had been turned out and her jewelry and purse were missing.
But Ms. Thrower had been shot six times -- four in the face -- with a .32-caliber handgun, which was never recovered. The level of violence indicated a crime of passion, not a robbery, Detective Charles Gilbert said last night.
The two-week trial also disclosed that Collins had ordered an engineer at the school, the only other person who would have been near the electrical room, to investigate a problem at another school and to stay there.
A neighbor had seen Collins following Ms. Thrower home two days earlier after she had apparently been out with another man. The prosecution argued that this showed Collins had a motive: his inability to control Ms. Thrower. "It wasn't a case of love, it was a case of control," Mr. Briscoe said.
Ms. Thrower's daughter, Renee Thrower, 26, expressed relief at the verdict. "We feel now that we can believe in our judicial system," she said. "But it still won't bring my mother back."
Collins, who is to be sentenced Jan. 14, faces a maximum sentence of life in prison plus 20 years.