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Gulfport police say stalking suspect has murderous past

GULFPORT — For the past two weeks, city police have been looking for a man accused of stalking his ex-girlfriend.

During the investigation, police have learned the man has a chilling past: More than 25 years ago, he murdered his adoptive parents and brother. He was 14 at the time.

Police have ramped up their search for Jovan Anton Collier out of fear that he could resort to similar violence. His past makes him more than the average ex who can't get over a breakup.

"A lot of these stalking cases are just people making idle threats," Gulfport police Lt. Robert Vincent said. "But this guy has demonstrated his capability of carrying out violence."

The stalking case against Collier is like many others police see. His ex-girlfriend called police 10 times in two months to report vandalism to her property and harassing phone calls from Collier after she ended the relationship and asked him to move out.

He was arrested June 7 and charged with stalking, but was released on $1,000 bail the next day. The harassment continued. The woman made more complaints to police, who are now looking to arrest Collier again. But they have no idea where he is.

During the investigation, police uncovered Collier's unsettling past. Collier killed his adoptive parents and brother in Wisconsin in 1983, when he was 14. He's now 40.

An Associated Press story out of Mineral Point, Wis., that appeared in the St. Petersburg Times on July 7, 1989, confirms the story. Police also confirmed Collier's past by contacting the police department in Wisconsin that handled the original case and matching the name and birth date.

In 1983, Collier was named Peter Zimmer.

Zimmer pleaded no contest to killing Hans Zimmer, 48, his wife, Sally, 44, and son, Perry, 10, in the family's rural Mineral Point home, about 50 miles southwest of Madison.

Hans Zimmer was shot to death and his wife and son were stabbed as many as 20 times.

The parents had no will, so the probate court recognized Peter Zimmer as the sole heir of the family's $177,000 estate. Upon his release from a juvenile facility in 1987, the teen petitioned for and was granted the money, the Associated Press reported.

The case later was cited when laws were enacted to prevent juvenile killers from inheriting their victims' estates.

The agreement to get the money barred him from contacting Zimmer relatives or traveling to Wisconsin, Illinois, Arizona or California.

At some point, Zimmer changed his name to Jovan Anton Collier. He eventually wound up in Gulfport.

Though Collier served his time for the killings — four years — and they have no bearing on the stalking case, Vincent said police still would like to know where he is so they can keep an eye on him.

So the search for Collier — a bald, 5-foot-11, 160-pound white man — continues. Vincent said Collier has relatives in Georgia but also could be in Sarasota, which is where he said he was living when he was arrested June 7.

"We need to do everything we can to get this guy," Vincent said.

Call Gulfport police at (727) 893-1030 with any information.

Anyone with information about the whereabouts of Jovan Anton Collier can call Gulfport police at 893-1030.

Gulfport police say stalking suspect has murderous past 06/30/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 1, 2009 5:30pm]
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