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He was on the phone with his wife while she was at their property in Concho, the small community north of the Phoenix area where they were anticipating a final move. He heard a struggle and a gunshot, the sounds of his wife’s murder, committed, police say, by a teenager.
That was a little more than a month ago and Ernest Collins Jr. said the days since the killing of his wife, TerriLynne, have not been easy.
“It has been horrible, he said in a phone interview Wednesday from his Mesa law office.
Joshua Cade Richardson, 14, was charged as an adult in the case. He was accused of first-degree murder, attempted armed robbery and aggravated assault, according to paperwork from the Apache County Superior Court.
The Republic is using the name of the juvenile suspect because prosecutors have decided to charge him as an adult.
Richardson was scheduled to have a preliminary hearing on Nov. 1. But it was pushed back by request of his defense attorneys, who were still seeking additional information. The next court hearing in the matter is scheduled for Jan. 3.
The shooting happened during the early morning hours of Oct. 3 on the couple’s property in Concho, a town about 30 miles northeast of Show Low. The Collins were in the process of moving permanently to that area.
TerriLynne was on the property along with one of the couple’s daughters and a son. Collins was still living in Mesa while the couple’s other daughter finished high school.
According to court documents released on Wednesday, Richardson came onto the Concho property with the intention to steal a car belonging to someone staying on the property with the older daughter.
Richardson used a handgun, knife and hockey stick, the documents say, to intimidate both the daughter and her roommate.
Police said TerriLynne responded to a text from her daughter to help and Richardson confronted her.
Ernest Collins said his wife called him during that encounter.
“She didn’t respond,” Collins said, “but I heard voices.”
Collins said he quickly realized something was wrong and asked their neighbor across the street to check in on his wife.
He said he continued to hear voices and listened to the conversation before calling 911. Deputies were already en route responding to a burglary call at the home.
When he returned to the call with his wife. he heard her shouting directions to his daughter and her roommate.
“She yelled to my daughter and her roommate to get out,” Collins said. “Then, my daughter reported to me that she heard a gunshot.”
He said he later learned his wife had been killed.
“He shot my wife in the head,” Collins said. “In my opinion, he basically executed her.”
Collins said his daughter was able to get photos and videos showing Richardson on the property wearing a ski mask, which she shared with police.
Richardson fled but was later arrested in the Pinetop-Lakeside area.
Richardson’s parents were called into the station because they had reported their son missing, Collins said.
“His parents identified him so I have no doubt that he is the person who killed my wife,” Collins said.
Collins described his wife as a kind and caring person who was active in the community and their children’s activities.
“She was a very caring, kind, thoughtful person,” Collins said. “She tried to help everyone that she could.”
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