The Woodward News

Local News

June 25, 2009

Collins up for parole

By Michelle Seeber

Staff Writer

A 54-year-old man convicted in the September 1974 shooting deaths of a family of four in Woodward is coming up for parole.

Bobby Wayne Collins committed “probably one of the worst crimes Woodward County has seen,” District Attorney Hollis Thorp said.

Thorp and Karla Taylor, Woodward County victim witness coordinator, are encouraging the public to write letters to Pardon and Parole Board members asking that Collins remain in prison.

Collins was convicted of first degree murder and originally given the death penalty by a Garfield County jury in 1975. The case was moved to Garfield County from Woodward County.

Shortly after Collins’ conviction the death penalty  that existed in Oklahoma at that time was ruled unconstitutional and Collins’ sentence was eventually changed to life in prison, Thorp said.

Collins has been coming up for parole review every three years since then.

According to Taylor, the members of the Thrasher family killed by Collins were 28-year-old Mervin, the father; 27-year-old Sandra, the wife; and their children, nine-month-old Robert and four-year-old Penny.

Thorp said Collins knew of the family, who lived near Boiling Springs State Park in a small frame house, because Mervin Thrasher would fill up his car with gas at a station where Collins worked.

Mervin worked for the Michigan-Wisconsin Pipeline Co. “I think the (family) had just moved to Woodward,” Thorp said.

Collins used a .22 calibre rifle to kill the family, Thorp said.

“In the report it said he hog-tied the couple before shooting them numerous times,” Thorp said. “He shot the little boy in the face as he stared down the barrel of the gun, according to his confession.”

At the time of the Thrasher murders, Collins was 20 years old.

No court affidavits concerning the crime are available today, Thorp said.

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