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Gulfport stalking suspect arrested in Georgia

One day after Gulfport police asked the U.S. Marshals Service for help finding Jovan Collier, the stalking suspect with a violent past was arrested in a motel across from a Greyhound bus station in downtown Savannah, Ga.

He is being held in the Chatham County, Ga., jail awaiting extradition to Florida.

Gulfport police had been looking for Collier, 41, since June, when he was charged with misdemeanor stalking and violating a protection order.

Police had taken a keen interest in Collier because in 1983, when he was 14 and before he changed his name from Peter Zimmer, he served four years in juvenile detention after pleading no contest to killing his adoptive parents, Hans and Sally Zimmer, and their 10-year-old son, Perry, in Mineral Point, Wis.

The stalking victim had been unaware of her ex-boyfriend's past until Gulfport police turned up details when they were searching for him.

Last month, the State Attorney's Office added a felony charge after e-mails to the woman became increasingly threatening.

That allowed police to cast a much wider net to find their suspect — and to ask the U.S. Marshals' Tampa office for its help.

When investigators determined that Collier could be in the Thunderbird Motel in Savannah on Wednesday morning, officials alerted marshals in that office, who found and arrested Collier.

How did they track down such an elusive man?

"Unfortunately, we aren't allowed to talk about that," said Gulfport police Lt. Robert Vincent.

"If we revealed the surveillance techniques, they wouldn't work anymore," he said.

"Hopefully now, with Collier behind bars, the victim can resume her life without worrying where he is or what he'll do. We've put a lot of work into this case; now we have to trust the system to ensure that justice is served," Vincent said.

Collier will remain in custody until he is brought back to Florida and appears before a judge, Vincent said.

The ex-girlfriend, who has been looking over her shoulder and carrying a gun for protection, is relieved.

The marshals were quick to alert her of the arrest.

"They arrested him at 9:40 and called me at 10:40," she said.

"I'm overwhelmed. I cried when I heard the news."

Gulfport stalking suspect arrested in Georgia 10/24/09 [Last modified: Saturday, October 24, 2009 4:30am]
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