Bayard Man Questions Justice System After Reporting Collin Richards To Police Years Ago

BAYARD, Iowa -- A Bayard man says he’s tried to hand over Collin Richards, the man accused of murdering Iowa State student Celia Barquin Arozamena, to police before -- but believes there is a problem with justice in rural Iowa.

"The criminals are coming out here because it’s less likely to get caught and that’s what is scaring everybody out here," said Joel Lacey, a Bayard resident who knew Richards.  Lacey was surprised to hear Richards was out of jail and said, "His report, his criminal background he just received a slap on the wrist, slap on the wrist for numerous things people I know have gone to jail for a really long time.  The system just needs to work a little harder.”

In September of 2016, Joel Lacey was approached at his home in Bayard by Richards who asked if he wanted to purchase cigarettes.  Lacey was aware that a nearby gas station called Sparky's One Stop was recently burglarized in town and took the items Richards sold him to authorities who began an investigation.

Authorities then arrested Collin Richards and two other individuals in the break-in and burglary. Lacey says he never thought a small theft years ago could lead to the violence Richards is accused of now but it is a situation he looks back on now and second guesses ever letting him into his home on several occasions.

"That just scares the (expletive) out of me.  It’s scary, it’s really scary because he came in a couple of times to help my landlord to do work on my property and to know that brings chills down my back because I have two kids I have a wife. What if I wasn’t home?," said Lacey.

Richards received a suspended two-year prison sentence in the 2016 burglary.   In October 2017, after numerous probation violations, his probation officers recommended Richards serve the two-year sentence but he served just over seven months and was released recently in June.