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She didn't know her boyfriend was a killer

She was a 39-year-old, blond elementary school teacher who broke up with her boyfriend.

And Jovan Collier, a trim and fit 40-year-old with a charming smile, was the boyfriend who couldn't let it go.

Collier called her. He e-mailed her. Police say he told her, "You are the f------ center of my universe."

And then Collier's harassment turned public, humiliating and sexual, police say. So the teacher was already scared.

But then she learned a secret: Her ex-boyfriend was a killer.

• • •

The teacher had shared a house with Collier in Gulfport, and they had been together for more than three years when they broke up last year.

But it did not go smoothly. She contacted police 10 times to complain about acts of vandalism, and also of harassing phone calls from Collier. He was arrested on a misdemeanor charge of stalking on June 7, and released in lieu of $1,000 bail. After that, he disappeared.

Trying to cut things off, she sought a domestic violence injunction. On June 17, a judge granted her request with an order preventing Collier from contacting her.

But Collier was apparently trying to patch things up. On the same day she got the injunction, according to court records, Collier sent her this e-mail: "My hang-up is I want to be happy with you, and knowing that I have made you happy and at peace."

And this one two months later: "Quit being so pig headed and call me."

And this one a month after that: "You took my life from me and I am very lost and angry at you for that. … (I) hope to hell I run into you. You messed me over and I will pay you back, your rep, your job, all of it."

• • •

But it got worse.

Collier is accused in court records of going to adult websites and posting nude pictures of her, along with her name, her home address, and the school where she was teaching. He described her as "teacher/stripper" and "super easy."

He also has been accused of signing onto such websites as and and pretending to be her.

This led several men to actually go to her home, "believing that they had previously spoken with (her) and had arranged to meet for a sexual encounter," according to what she told police. And one man, according to court records, thought she "had reneged on their sexual encounter, and began yelling and screaming at her."

He also is accused of sending her a box of sex toys.

"I've never seen anybody do something like that," said Gulfport Sgt. Robert Burkhart, talking of the case as a whole.

The Times is not using the teacher's name in this article because of the nature of the allegations. She told a reporter she had been advised not to talk about the case while it's pending.

But in a previous interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, she said that in late June, she called the home of Collier's birth mother and learned something that scared and stunned her.

• • •

Jovan Collier used to be named Peter Zimmer. And although he has left that name behind, the memories of what he did still reverberate in his former home, Wisconsin.

In 1983, at age 14, Peter Zimmer killed the man and woman who had adopted him, in their Mineral Point, Wis., home.

Police said he shot his adoptive father, Hans Zimmer, five times; and stabbed his mother, Sally, at least 15 times; and killed their 10-year-old son, Perry, stabbing him more than 20 times. The reasons are not clear.

In an outcome that outraged the state, the boy pleaded no contest and served time in a juvenile detention facility — and was released at age 19.

And then came news that caused even more outrage. After his release it came out that Collier —- by this time he had changed his name —- had been granted money from the estate of the parents he killed.

He filed an inheritance claim, which other family members opposed. But a settlement eventually gave him the right to $100 per month for four years, plus rent and tuition, under certain conditions.

Wisconsin later passed laws, with Peter Zimmer in mind, that allow young killers to be charged as adults, and that prevent them from collecting on their family's estate in cases like this one.

• • •

After Collier disappeared in Florida, he was arrested in October in Georgia. By that time, in addition to the charges he faced of misdemeanor stalking and violating a protection order, he also was charged with a felony count of aggravated stalking.

He has been in the Pinellas County Jail since October, and is currently being held on $556,226 bail. In a recent court hearing, his attorney, Dwight Wells, said Collier had turned down an offer of a possible plea agreement. Wells said this week he could not comment on the case. Collier's trial will be scheduled soon.

Curtis Krueger can be reached at or (727) 893-8232.

She didn't know her boyfriend was a killer 05/01/10 [Last modified: Saturday, May 1, 2010 9:00pm]
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