MySpace key in capturing suspects in brutal attack on skier


by David Krough Scott Burton KGW


Posted on August 15, 2009 at 4:34 PM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 13 at 4:57 PM

PORTLAND, Ore. -- If Teven Collins had not logged into this Myspace account, investigators would have never known he was in Mexico, according to Skamania County Sheriff Dave Brown.

The moment Collins logged in, he left a virtual fingerprint for investigators. "Myspace would have a record, the isp he used would have a record, if he used a phone service to get to that isp they would have a record," Portland State University professor and computer forensic expert Craig Schiller told KGW.

Teven and his dad, Michael are suspected in the brutal attack on a cross country skier in the Columbia Gorge. They were arrested in Mexico and taken back to the U.S. where they are expected to soon face charges.

Video: Father & son arrested

Robert Kevin Tracey, 52, was beaten, robbed and left for dead during a cross-country ski outing near Washougal on February 9.

Reached by phone Wednesday night, Tracey told KGW he had just begun to put the attack behind him but now he's feeling a flood of new emotions and realizes he needs to prepare mentally for a trial.

"I was relieved that they werent on the run anymore," he said "Right now I need to focus on being a good witness and making sure the public is not subjected to any more crimes by these two," he said.

A tip from an 'America's Most Wanted' TV show episode led police to 33-year-old Michael and 16-year-old Teven, who were missing since early February.

Police say the Collins' beat Tracey with a wooden club, dragged his body into the woods and stole his black Ford Explorer and wallet.

Michael Collins was appeared in an Imperial Valley, Calif. courtroom Thursday, Teven's appearance was set for Friday. Authorities said they hope to escort the pair to Washington state to face charges, possibly by as early as Saturday.

United States Marshals Service and a film crew from the show ' America's Most Wanted,' interviewed people to recreate the crime in an episode that aired last week.

"It's kind of like a jigsaw puzzle together," Skamania Sheriff spokesman Dave Brown said. "This is a huge piece of that puzzle and were going to turn that corner now and hopefully we can get them back here and we can start the processes in the court.

Marshals had been monitoring the MySpace accounts of the father and son and knew they were in Ensenada, Mexico, but not exactly where until a tip came in. Flanked by heavy guards, the two were taken in to custody at a home in Ensenada Wednesday morning and later, across the border.

Michael Collins is a sex offender with an outstanding arrest warrant for failing to meet his requirements to register.

Tracey's vehicle, checkbook, wallet and several credit cards were stolen in the attack, according to Skamania County authorities. Court records suggest the pair used Tracey's Visa card in Washington, Madras, Ore., and Lathrop, Calif.

Police believe the suspects were traveling in Tracey's 1998 black Ford Explorer SUV.

The SUV still has not been found and it's unknown how the pair got into Mexico. Investigators said that logs from the U.S. border show no record of Tracey's SUV crossing into Mexico.

Skamania County Detectives were asking people who may have additional information in the case to contact them at (509) 427-9490.