Suspect in golfer’s murder had repeated interactions with police before her body was found

Police in an Iowa college town had repeated interactions with a troubled drifter in the weeks between his departure from prison and his alleged killing of a star golfer from Spain, records show.

They include times when police found him sleeping outside a Target on August 11 after a female employee called cops to report a suspicious man using a flash light in the woods behind the store.  

Three days later, officers searched a home nearby as part of a different investigation during which they did a search for his driver’s license. It is unclear what prompted that case.  

Collin Richards, 22, is accused of murdering Iowa State University student Celia Barquin Arozamena, also 22, on Monday at Coldwater Golf Links in Ames.  

He is accused of stabbing Barquin, the Big 12 champion and Iowa State’s female athlete of the year, and leaving her body in a pond on the course, where it was found after other golfers noticed her abandoned bag.

Investigators say he had been staying in a small homeless encampment in the woods near the public course. 

Collin Richards was encountered by police at least three times since leaving jail in June and allegedly murdering golfer Celia Barquin Arozamena, 22, on Monday 

Collin Richards was encountered by police at least three times since leaving jail in June and allegedly murdering golfer Celia Barquin Arozamena, 22, on Monday 

Collin Richards is pictured in court this week

Collin Richards is pictured in court this week

Collin Richards was encountered by police at least three times since leaving jail in June and allegedly murdering golfer Celia Barquin Arozamena, 22, on Monday 

Shortly before 4 a.m. on Aug. 11, an officer found Richards sleeping in a tent behind a Target store after a female employee called police to report a suspicious man who was in the woods using a flashlight, records show. Officers returned to the site again that night to tell Richards to leave the private property, with one describing him in a report as being cooperative but showing ‘signs of drug use.’

Three days later, officers served a late-night search warrant at a home near the golf course and the woods where Richards had been camping prior to his arrest, records show. 

Police were at the scene for about an hour and ran the driver’s licenses of Richards and Christopher Lee Johnson, an associate who lives at the home, records show.

Police spokesman Geoff Huff said he couldn’t comment on the nature of that investigation because it was still active.

‘That’s an unrelated but ongoing case,’ he said. ‘He’s not necessarily the focus of that investigation. I just can’t say much more than that.’

Huff declined to comment on whether the home is the same one where Richards allegedly showed up after the slaying ‘covered in blood, sand and water’ and washed himself.

He also declined to say whether Johnson is the ‘C.J.’ referred to in the criminal complaint against Richards as that home’s occupant.

This is the Target Richards had been caught sleeping near on August 11 after a store worker called police to report a suspicious man in the woods behind it using a flash light 

This is the Target Richards had been caught sleeping near on August 11 after a store worker called police to report a suspicious man in the woods behind it using a flash light 

This is the Target Richards had been caught sleeping near on August 11 after a store worker called police to report a suspicious man in the woods behind it using a flash light 

The Target store is a stone's throw from the golf course where the young woman's body was found 

The Target store is a stone's throw from the golf course where the young woman's body was found 

The Target store is a stone’s throw from the golf course where the young woman’s body was found 

Johnson, 40, hasn’t been charged in either case, court records show. He didn’t reply to a phone message seeking comment.

Richards left a Mount Pleasant prison on June 4 after serving a roughly 7-month stint for violating the terms of his probation on convictions for burglary and other crimes, according to the Department of Corrections. 

Just two weeks before his sentence expired, the Iowa Board of Parole denied him an early release, saying he lacked a ‘solid and stable plan for returning to the community.’

Richards was in jail in June for public intoxication but was released 

Richards was in jail in June for public intoxication but was released 

Richards was in jail in June for public intoxication but was released 

‘You have not yet made, or have refused to make, arrangements deemed satisfactory by the board,’ Chairman Jeff Wright wrote in the May 17 decision, urging Richards to work with his counselor to form such a plan.

About three weeks after his release, Ames police found Richards passed out near a liquor store.

Richards told an officer that he was diagnosed with depression and had taken several prescription drugs before drinking a six pack of beer. He was arrested for public intoxication, briefly jailed and fined $200.

In July, officers were sent to check on Richards after he was spotted sleeping outside of a government building. 

He told them he had been ‘booted out a little early’ from a homeless shelter and was taking a nap. 

In August, officers stopped him for riding his mountain bike at night without lights.

After Barquin’s killing, he allegedly appeared at the home of an acquaintance appearing ‘disheveled and covered in blood, sand and water’, an arrest affidavit states.

He bathed and left with his bloodstained clothes in a black backpack, according to police. 

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