For Daniel Dennis Collins, the 17-year-old rape suspect who was captured in the District of Columbia Wednesday after a four-day manhunt, adolescence has been measured by a string of psychiatric institutions and juvenile detention centers.
Yesterday, a D.C. Superior Court hearing commissioner recommended that the youth be placed in yet another psychiatric facility, the type of institution all too familiar to Collins, who has found himself in trouble in Maryland, the District and Virginia since he was 10 years old, according to court officials and lawyers in the three jurisdictions.
Collins was ordered held without bond yesterday pending a Feb. 6 hearing on his proposed extradition to Maryland, where he escaped from a hospital he had been taken to from a mental institution last week. He was sent to the psychiatric unit of the D.C. Jail pending a decision on where to send him for testing, his lawyer, Harry T. Alexander, said.
A law enforcement source in Prince George's County said Collins was convicted in juvenile court for breaking and entering, trespassing and assault with intent to murder. In August, he was arrested and charged with a crime spree that included five rapes, auto theft and kidnaping, police said. In the four days after his escape from the Maryland hospital, Collins allegedly abducted one woman, raped another and assaulted an elderly couple, police said.
"Danny's been in and out of trouble ever since he was a little kid," said Jeffrey T. Wennar, Collins' public defender in Prince George's County. "There's a mental disorder controlling the kid."
Prince George's police officers who were on the scene when Collins was arrested in August on kidnaping and rape charges said they saw the youth display two personalities, talking in distinct voices with separate facial characteristics.
Other psychiatrists who have evaluated him have come to other conclusions about Collins, who appeared dazed through much of yesterday's hearing. His hands and feet were handcuffed to a wheelchair.
A staff psychiatrist reported to the District court that Collins "is of a very immature personality in a very excited, possibly psychotic state of mind" and "could be suicidal or homicidal and . . . requires close observation in a hospital setting."
But psychiatrists from the Clifton T. Perkins Medical Center, where Collins was held until his Jan. 5 escape, have ruled out psychosis in documents submitted to Charles County Circuit Court. They said he was not competent to understand the court proceedings and could be dangerous if released.
Despite the intense scrutiny that has been focused on Collins, his past is nevertheless a mystery. His family has refused to talk with reporters and his court history has, for the most part, been played out in juvenile proceedings, which are not open to the public. Collins' father died many years ago, lawyers said, and the boy was raised by his mother, Emma Ford, primarily in Prince George's County and the District.
When the Prince George's police arrested him in August, they said officers who had cornered Collins in a storm drain in Largo heard two voices. Sgt. William Hogewood, who coaxed Collins out of his hiding place, eventually realized he was dealing with a person exhibiting two personalities.
"I asked Danny who was with him and he said 'Donny,' " Hogewood said yesterday. The boy referred to himself as "we," the officer said.
Hogewood said one voice was soft and mild, while the other was deep and "used a lot of gutter language."