The Boy Who Slayed His Family in Mineral Point, Wisconsin

Iowa County Sheriff's Deputies in the driveway of the rural farm house near Mineral Point, WI. Courtesy: ABC News

Iowa County Sheriff's Deputies in the driveway of the rural farm house near Mineral Point, WI. Courtesy: ABC News

When I was a kid, my family looked at a beautiful old farm house located near Mineral Point, Wisconsin. It had been for sale for quite some time, and we drove past it every Sunday on our way to church in neighboring Dodgeville, so we decided to take a look. The lot of the property was spacious: in addition to the historic white house, it contained a large, separate garage, and a gigantic lawn with ample room for us kids to play Ghost in the Graveyard, Kick the Can, or other outdoor games under the screaming star-lit sky. After looking through the house and wandering around the property, I was excited about the possibility of moving into this new home. And I knew that my mom and dad were excited, too. As we finished the tour with our realtor, he asked us to join him in the driveway so he could tell us more about the property. With a straight face, he said, "I'm required by law to tell you what happened in this house." After pausing to carefully choose his words, he continued, "A boy killed his family in this home a few years ago..."

A boy killed his family in this home a few years go...

Here's the story:

Peter with his arm around his adopted brother Perry. Peter is dressed as a skeleton (far right). Courtesy: ABC News

Peter with his arm around his adopted brother Perry. Peter is dressed as a skeleton (far right). Courtesy: ABC News

In 1983, Peter Zimmer lived with his adoptive family in a quaint farmhouse in Mineral Point, Wisconsin. They had just moved from Illinois and were ready to start their lives over in a new town. His parents, Hans and Sally, originally adopted Peter and his brother Perry, but raised them as if they were their own biological children. Fourteen years old at the time, Peter felt out of place and disconnected. Ever since he had discovered that he was adopted two years prior, he resented his parents and brother. He grew jealous of his parents doting on his younger brother, and would later claim that his father was physically abusive. 

A picture of the knife Zimmer used to stab his mother and brother, and then watched them die. Courtesy: ABC News

A picture of the knife Zimmer used to stab his mother and brother, and then watched them die. Courtesy: ABC News

Peter’s resentment turned to rage that May when he murdered his parents and brother at their residence. When Iowa County Sheriff's Deputies arrived at the Zimmers' home, the crime scene was gruesome and bloody. Peter had shot his father five times with a shotgun, stabbed his mother over fifteen times, and stabbed his brother over twenty times. What's more, after killing his mother, Peter took her lifeless body and placed it in a shed behind the house, and then severely mutilated his bother's body.

Because he told a boy at his previous high school that he was going to kill his family, Peter was quickly arrested and pleaded no contest to the killings. He was found "delinquent" (instead of guilty) due to his age and was sent to the Ethan Allen School for Boys in Delafield, WI for four years. While there he refused rehabilitation, which was aimed at reducing the risk of future recidivism. Had he accepted rehabilitation, perhaps the rest of his life could have turn out much better than it did.

Crime scene of photo of blood throughout the house after Zimmer killed his family. Courtesy: ABC News

Crime scene of photo of blood throughout the house after Zimmer killed his family. Courtesy: ABC News

While at Ethan Allen, Peter prepared himself for release. He knew that because he was found delinquent and not guilty of the murder, he could make a claim against the deceased family’s estate as the sole surviving heir. After settling with the family, he obtained a new trust fund. In 1987 he was released and began a new life. He changed his name to Jovan (Joe) Collier and flew to St. Petersburg, Florida to live. About a year later, now know as Jovan, he moved out of state and married a woman and had a daughter; they divorced in 1993. Immediately after, he moved again and married another woman in Indiana and had a son; they divorced in 1994.

After being released from the Ethan Allen School for Boys, Peter Zimmer changed his name to Jovan (Joe) Collier and relocated to Florida. Courtesy: ABC News

After being released from the Ethan Allen School for Boys, Peter Zimmer changed his name to Jovan (Joe) Collier and relocated to Florida. Courtesy: ABC News

Some time before 2005, Jovan moved back to St. Petersburg, Florida, starting over again and forming new relationships. He reunited with his birthmother in Atlanta, and also met a young woman named Candy Williams, who lived in his St. Petersburg neighborhood. To prevent scaring them off, he lied to them about his past, saying a drunk driver killed his parents when he was young. Candy and Jovan hit it off, and moved in together after three months. Everything seemed to be going well in Jovan’s life for a few years. However, things took a turn for the worse in 2008, when his birthmother hired a private investigator to look into Jovan and discovered his murderous past. She cut off contact with Jovan, which infuriated him. Around the same time, Candy discovered that Jovan was cheating on her. However, she accepted his apologies and let him back in her life, as mistake she would later regret.

Candy and Joe after meeting in 2005. Courtesy: ABC News

Candy and Joe after meeting in 2005. Courtesy: ABC News

In the summer of 2009, Candy discovered that Jovan had placed several racy dating ads on the internet. She abruptly broke up with him and kicked him out for good. Feeling rejected by yet another person, Jovan immediately started to harass Candy.  He sent her hundreds of emails, posing as himself and other people, and vandalized her home. Fed up, Candy obtained a domestic violence injunction that summer. Jovan was charged with misdemeanor stalking and was arrested, but disappeared after posting bail. When the harassment ceased and Candy didn’t hear from Jovan for a while, she called his stepfather to find out if Jovan was alive. The stepfather told her that not only was Jovan okay, but he had a seedy past. He then proceeded to tell her about Jovan’s past life as Peter Zimmer.

Candy quickly relayed this information to the local police, fearing for her life. But things only got worse. Angry that his secret was finally out, Jovan started sending her odd packages, followed and threatened her, and even sent her a dead pig. Prosecutors charged Jovan with felony stalking (based on a credible threat), and violating the domestic violence injunction. In October, the U.S. Marshals Service searched for Jovan; it only took them three days to find him. He was in Georgia with a new girlfriend from Indiana, who had no idea he was a wanted man.

Jovan Collier's 2010 booking photo. Courtesy: ABC News

Jovan Collier's 2010 booking photo. Courtesy: ABC News

On May 2010, Jovan pleaded guilty to aggravated stalking and was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in a Florida state prison. His sentence was shortened as a credit for the time he had spent in jail prior to his arrest. No one currently knows his whereabouts, but the release address he provided to the prison was located in San Diego, California.

Has Jovan made a new life for himself and already found new potential victims? Time will tell...