Man charged in '98 burning of boy

By Keith Garvin - Anchor/Reporter

MONTGOMERY COUNTY - The family of Robert Middleton, a Montgomery County boy who was attacked and horribly burned in 1998, is pleased that murder charges have finally been filed against the man they believe caused the little boy's death.

In 1998, in an assault that horrified the Houston area, and much of the nation, Robert Middleton was attacked, doused with gasoline, and set on fire, inflicting burns on over 99 percent of his body.

It happened in the woods in Splendora in Montgomery County on Robert's eighth birthday. After more than 100 painful surgeries over 13 years, Robert succumbed to cancer that medical experts saID resulted from the attack.

"I think about him first thing I wake up in the morning, all day long," said Robert's mother, Colleen. "Not an hour goes by that I don't think about him."

Don Collins, then 13 years old and a next door neighbor of the Middleton's in 1998, was named a suspect in the attack. He admitted he was there, but claimed others were involved.

Charges were never filed and the attack was handed to Montgomery County's Cold Case Division. The case was reopened in 2012 and detectives said they discovered previously unknown witnesses, and through their investigation handed over 50,000 pages of documents incriminating Collins who is now 28 years old.

For Colleen Middleton, the charges are bringing some relief for her and her family. But even if Collins is convicted, it will never give them the thing they want the most.

"We're happy that we're going to get closure, but we also know that we're not going to ever get justice," said Colleen. "We want Robert back, that's what we want. We want our son."

Copyright 2013 by All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.