Two bodies were found Monday inside a burned San Diego County home and investigators believe the deceased are a woman and her son-in-law, who is accused of shooting and critically wounding an El Cajon police officer and killing his own daughter just days after his wife filed for divorce.
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Police found the body of an infant girl in a truck belonging to Kevin Collier. The baby was found with a gunshot wound to the head, and authorities are awaiting confirmation from the coroner's office that the girl is Collier's 14-month-old daughter, Rhilee Collier, Coit said.
Authorities believe she was killed before police arrived.
Collier is accused of torching an El Cajon-area home after, relatives assert, he killed his daughter and his mother-in-law, Beverli Rakov, 51. Collier was identified by police as the man who shot El Cajon Police Officer Jared Slocum, 28, a four-year veteran of the force.
According to El Cajon police, investigators found a body in the front portion of the fire-damaged house in the 1000 block of Prince Street. A second body was discovered in the rear of the home, and investigators said the bodies are believed to be Collier and Rakov. The Medical Examiner's Office has not officially confirmed the identities of the bodies found in the home.
El Cajon police Lt. Mark Coit said both bodies were burned beyond recognition so forensics tests would be needed for positive identification.
Investigators learned Collier sent text messages to family members saying that he killed his mother-in-law and his daughter and then started the fire at the home.
A family friend said Collier's wife, who is safe, recently filed for divorce.
According to divorce paperwork obtained by 10News that was filed August 17, Alyssa Collier cited "irreconcilable differences" as the reason for asking for a divorce from Kevin Collier. She was asking for sole custody of their daughter.
The couple married in January of 2010 and filed for legal separation in July.
In the documents, Alyssa Collier stated she was the primary caregiver and stayed at home, while Kevin Collier worked long hours.
According to the court documents, Alyssa said Kevin "is a good dad, but spends very little time with Rhilee."
She also wrote they have a "nice standard of living" and asked for spousal support.
In the divorce documents, Collier's wife asked for $2,000 a month in child support, writing: "I need help transitioning to a more stable life style."
She wrote that Kevin had just gotten a new job, paying about $7,900 a month plus bonuses.
10News learned Collier and his wife also ran a dog breeding business. The Big Dogs website is filled with pictures of the couple with their Mastiffs.
There were no allegations of abuse and the exact reason for their failed marriage is unclear.
10News found what appears to be the Facebook page of Alyssa Collier. While a family friend told 10News Alyssa Collier used to work at Cheetah's strip club in San Diego, her latest job listing on Facebook is "full-time wife and mom." Her job description says "I plan to sit on my butt and take all my ex's money."
Friends told 10News that Kevin Collier may have manipulated the Facebook page.
On Monday, a spokesman for Cheetahs told 10News Alyssa Rakov (Collier) hadnt worked for the nightclub for more than a year and a half. The club declined to comment on Sunday's incident.
10News also learned that both Collier's brother and father filed restraining orders against him in 2003.
Collier's brother filed first and wrote: Kevin "slapped me as hard as he could."
Two days later, Collier's father followed, filing because Kevin started harassing him.
His father wrote: Kevin "called on my cell phone and was very angry and used a lot of profanity
Kevin came to my house and I had to call the sheriff's to escort him off the property."
"He seemed cool at first, the first time," said a Collier acquaintance, who did not want to be identified. "The second time, he wasn't so cool."
According to Collier's bankruptcy record, he earned more than $40,000 a month at a Miramar strip mall where he met the acquaintance.
The source described Collier as a hot-headed man who warned people to keep him away from alcohol.
It isn't clear what Collier did at the mall, but his former office is now a strip club.
The acquaintance said Collier was only in the mall for three months and told 10News he saw Collier angry once.
"He just freaked out, like a super hot head," he said. "He just instantly exploded."
Heather Gooden, a friend of Rakov, said she received a message early Sunday in which Rakov said her son-in-law had guns and she feared for her life.
Two El Cajon police officers responded shortly after 5 p.m. to a caller who said he saw a man with a gun who had started a fire, Coit said. When Slocum, one of the responding officers, approached the dwelling, he was shot by someone inside the house, he said.
Slocum fired before grabbing his neck and falling against a chain link fence. His rookie partner, Tim McFarland, ran to drag him to cover, assisted by two neighbors.
Slocum, a married father of two young children, was taken to Sharp Memorial Hospital, where he underwent surgery and was listed in critical but stable condition after undergoing surgery for a gunshot wound to his forehead that fractured his skull.
After the shooting, the fire surged out of control and firefighters with police protection and aid from a water-dropping helicopter put it out at about 7 p.m., Heartland Fire spokesman Sonny Saghera said.
Several homes in the area were evacuated and eastbound Interstate 8 was shut down while the fire burned. The freeway was reopened after about 90 minutes.
A SWAT team surrounded the house for much of Sunday night, but turned the scene over to detectives when they determined it was safe, Coit said.
After the burning house was doused by firefighters on the ground and in the air, a police SWAT team entered and found a body near the front door.
They found the body of an adult, believed to be Collier, near the front of the home's interior, the head and shoulders protruding from the burning debris.
Police believe Collier died in the blaze because authorities had sealed off the area and he was not found.
The stench of smoke early Monday still wafted through the neighborhood of lower- to middle-class older homes in the San Diego suburb, as bewildered neighbors stared at the blackened home in disbelief.
Police were checking on whether there had been any prior domestic disputes reported at the home.
Witness Dave Lembcke said he saw everything from the moment Kevin Collier pulled up to the home in a truck.
"He pulled out a gun and he didn't run across the street but he walked real fast," he said.
Moments later, Lembcke said he saw Collier return to the truck.
"He went back to his truck," Lembcke said. "He got something else and it didn't look like a gun but it was something kind of shaped like one and went back in."
Officers from San Diego, National City and Chula Vista, and deputies from the San Diego County Sheriff's Department were also at the scene to assist.
Neighbor Pam Gatar who lives about a block from the scene said she was outside when she heard officers exchange fire with the suspect.
"We were walking towards the corner, and we start hearing gunshots, and we don't understand why," Gatar said. "There had to have been at least 15, 20 shots fired. Then we saw the police."
Richard Ogunsalu, who lives in the same complex as Gatar, was in the shower when he heard sirens and ran outside to see police everywhere and the house burning.
"I saw about 30 police cars, it was like martial law in the streets, man," Ogunsalu said. "There was black roaring smoke in the sky, it was crazy, it just kept coming up. It was like a movie man, it was surreal."
Ogunsalu said he saw a pedestrian praying over the downed officer.
"There's some good people out here," he said.
10News learned someone posted a Craigslist ad on Friday for an "Everything must go" yard sale at the same home on Prince Street.
The ad read: "Everything you need for your kitchen and more. Name your own price. I just want the stuff gone."
10News confirmed with one neighbor that there have been yard sales at the home over the last couple of weekends, including one on Saturday.
It's unclear who posted the ad or whether it has anything to do with Sunday's incident.
One family friend told 10News he is in shock over what has happened.
"We've known them longer than we've known anybody," said friend Jarrad McCarthy. "A few days ago, I guess they were having problems."
McCarthy said the family was afraid something like this would happen.
"[They've] been worried about this for some time," he said. "They've been expressing concerns to a lot of people for a while and nothing happened."
Gooden, 41, arrived Monday sobbing at the police tape cordoning off the homes. She said she has known the family for 30 years and never heard of any problems with violence.
Gooden said Rakov owned the home, and Rakov's daughter, Alyssa, and her husband and baby daughter had moved in with Rakov after a job opportunity for Collier in New York fell through in December.
Gooden said she texted Rakov shortly before 8 a.m. Sunday to see if she could pick up her daughter's furniture that Rakov was storing for her.
Rakov texted back that she couldn't do it because her son-in-law had taken her grandchild and police were at her home.
Then she wrote a chilling final message: "I have never been so scared in my life, Heather. He has guns. He's gonna shoot my daughter. (H)e has lost his (expletive) mind."
Gooden sent repeated texts to Rakov throughout the day Sunday but has gotten no replies.
"I can't believe she's gone," said Gooden, tears streaming down her face.
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