She said she feared for her life, so she left her grandson at a Child Protective Services headquarters
*Names in this article have been changed in order to protect the identity of minors
JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT/Gray News) – Honda Collier admits that she did it. Yes, she left her grandson at the Child Protective Services headquarters right in the middle of Jackson, Mississippi. She will even tell you that as she drove away, she didn’t so much as look back.
Hours before this deed, she had written a manifesto of sorts laying out her reasons for doing so.
“To whom it may concern, my name is Honda Collier,” it says. “I’ve been taking care of Max since birth; adopted at 11 months. He’s always been troubled. I’ve tried what I could to help him. He has been diagnosed with multiple mental disorders. Behavior has gotten worse. I am writing this letter to relinquish my rights... I can not handle him mentally or physically. I am scared for my life.”
As the letter states, Collier had taken care of Max for most of his life. Her daughter, Max’s mother, had largely been absent - leaving Collier to raise him, her only grandchild, mostly by herself.
What is also revealed in the letter are Max’s mental disorders: multiple personality disorder, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder. He had been showing signs of these since childhood, Collier said. And, as she wrote, they had progressively gotten worse, so much so that Collier felt she could no longer care for him.
What followed for Collier was threats of imprisonment and an eventual warrant for her arrest.
The action she took is shocking to some. But if you were to ask Collier, it was a desperate, yet necessary, decision for both her safety and the safety of Max himself.
Collier is a native of Detroit, Michigan, has four children, and is 50 years old. After her children were grown, Collier wanted something different in her life. She said her last marriage had been “rough,” and that she had always been a country girl.
Mississippi seemed like the right fit for her and her grandson, Max.
Before the pair moved to Mississippi, Collier officially adopted Max. That was five years ago. Since their move, Collier says she has made the trek to Detroit multiple times a month in order to get Max treatment for his disorders. This included seeing therapists and getting medication.
In one statement written by Max’s therapist, which Collier provided to WLBT, the therapist wrote that Max was in need of “intense mental health services” and that Max “has a history of violence towards animals and people.” The therapist suggested that Max be placed in a long-term mental facility.
The documents also showed that Max was on a multitude of prescription medications as of October 2021, including Catapres, a sedative, Trazodone, an antidepressant, Depakote, for his bipolar disorder, and Zyprexa, an antipsychotic to treat his schizophrenia.
Collier says she would try to get Max to socialize with other children when he was younger, but there would always be “an episode.” This happened over the course of several years. She decided to “get him out of here” after a number of these “episodes,” which involved Max harming other children.
Their move to Mississippi soon followed. Max was around 7 years old at this time.
But, as it would turn out, the move to Mississippi did not quell Max’s “episodes.” Max even began threatening to harm Collier’s partner, Patrick Rounds. For his protection, Collier said Rounds began calling her on the phone when he was alone with Max in case Max did something to him.
All along, Collier said she would talk to her grandson about his behavior, telling him that if things didn’t get better, she would be forced to do something she didn’t want to do.
In the past few years, Collier said Max’s behavior has become more aggressive. Although she said Max has never harmed her, Collier put chimes on all of the doors inside her house so she would know where he was at all times.
She also installed a deadbolt on her bedroom door, “because I don’t know what he’ll do. I have a child that’s telling me that he has voices telling him to do things.”
Because of this, Collier reached out to family members for help, even contacting Max’s mother. She said things became worse once his mother was in the picture.
This reached a climax in an alleged incident where Max’s mother, who was with her boyfriend, attempted to take Max from Collier’s home in Utica, Mississippi, hitting Collier with her car in the process. A police report of this incident says it occurred on October 28, 2021.
Utica’s Police Chief Timothy Myles confirmed that an arrest warrant has been issued for Max’s mother. He also said he was aware of the family circumstances and Max’s “behavior problems,” but confessed that in these types of family situations, it’s hard to know “who’s telling the truth.”
It was at this time that Child Protective Services became involved, which Collier was somewhat grateful for. She needed their help. The second encounter with CPS was after Max allegedly attacked a student at school. It was at this point that Collier told CPS, “I can’t take no more of this.”
At one point, Collier said she went to the CPS offices in Jackson, Mississippi, herself and stayed until closing, reiterating the fact to anyone who would listen that she could no longer provide care for Max.
CPS took custody of Max for a few weeks, keeping him in a children’s shelter. Collier said she spoke to Max every day. After his stay in the shelter, Colier went to court and told the judge of her difficulties with keeping Max.
“We don’t just give up kids,” the judge told her, according to Collier. “If we don’t want them, we don’t just give them up.”
Max was given back to Collier.
The day after regaining custody of Max, Collier said she took him to Children’s of Mississippi. After explaining her situation, Max was admitted into the hospital where he would end up staying for several months.
Collier said she was in contact with the hospital during that time. Due to federal patient privacy regulations, the hospital could not offer comment on this story.
It was the beginning of June when Max was given back over to CPS custody.
A court appearance took place on June 16 in which Collier told the judge that if Max were to return to her care, she would want additional help with him if at all possible - a gradual transition. But that didn’t happen.
It was the night of June 23 when Max would knock on Collier’s door. A Ring video captured the bizarre occurrence, with the 12-year-old being dropped off at his grandmother’s house around 10 p.m., his social workers standing in the background.
“Hey, Nana,” Max said as Collier appeared at the door.
“We just got the call from the judge,” the social workers tell Collier as she stepped outside. They then explained that Max was now out of CPS custody. He was Collier’s to care for now.
“I don’t get no help?” Collier asked the social workers once Max was inside the house. “I don’t get nothin’? You’re kidding. I’m telling you that I’m scared for my safety with this child.”
When Collier told the social workers that Max would need to go back with them, they replied, “No. We’re fixing to go.”
It was after they left that Collier wrote the letter stating that she was relinquishing her rights and that she was scared for her life.
The next day, June 24, Collier said she went to the courthouse in Jackson to try to get some clarity on what just happened. Max was with her at this time. With no luck there, she and Max went to the CPS headquarters.
According to Collier, she was met by an officer once she made it there. The officer had been advised not to let her inside the building, Collier said. A back-and-forth ensued, but she said she was still not let in.
“So, at that point, I looked at Max, I looked at the [officer], and I said, ‘OK,’” Collier said.
And that was when she left Max.
When asked how she could explain her decision to a public that might not be so sympathetic, Collier said she couldn’t take care of Max on her own.
“To raise a child, especially a child with a mental illness, it takes a village, not one person,” she said. “I feel like [CPS] is that village. They have different resources... I don’t have that. All I have is me, being scared. All I have is my safety being compromised.”
Hours after dropping Max off at the CPS offices, Collier said she began getting calls from CPS, asking if she would take Max back. She refused. Collier said they then began threatening her with jail time. Collier said the pressure of the situation caused her to pass out in her front yard.
When WLBT reached out to CPS, they said they cannot remark on specific cases.
On Thursday, July 14, Collier said she had been charged with child neglect, and a warrant was out for her arrest. She could either turn herself in or wait until the police picked her up.
“I don’t know what to do,” she told WLBT.
Collier said she had no intention of leaving Max at the CPS headquarters that day, and that she had only wanted to speak to an official and figure out “what was going on.”
And, if she were able to speak to a judge, that’s when she says she would provide them with the letter renouncing her conservatorship of Max. But when no one would speak to her, well, she says she did what she did.
“I don’t know what else to do,” she says. “I’m tired... Nobody should have to go through this. Nobody. I should not have to fear for my life like this. I’m fighting for my actual life with a child that I’m scared of. Now I’m fighting for my life with the judicial system. What do I have to live for at this point?”
Selena, a cousin of Collier who lives in Detroit, said she and Collier are like sisters.
Selena said she was aware of Collier’s arrest warrant and that all she could do was pray that Collier wouldn’t go to jail and pray that Max wouldn’t “fall through the cracks,” like so many other children with mental illness.
“Putting [Collier] in jail, what is that gonna accomplish?” Selena told WLBT. “[Max] is still not getting any help, right? It’s a desperate grandmother trying to get help for her mentally ill grandson at any means necessary. That’s how I feel.”
It was August now, and Collier was awaiting her court dates with one scheduled for September and another in October.
Due to the child neglect charge, she was set to appear in both juvenile court and felony court. But with the help of her lawyer, the arrest warrant had been dismissed.
Collier said she hasn’t been able to speak to Max since she dropped him off at the CPS headquarters. She said she hopes that he will be put in a long-term care facility and stop being bounced around from home to home.
The Mississippi Department of Mental Health currently operates two programs specifically for young people with mental health challenges: a child and adolescent unit at the Mississippi State Hospital and the Specialized Treatment Facility.
However, according to Adam Moore with DMH, the preference for all individuals with mental needs, including children and adolescents, is to be served in the “least restrictive environment possible” without a need for admission to an inpatient or residential program.
He says that a variety of services are available, including targeted case management, outpatient therapy and intensive outpatient psychiatric services.
Collier said she fears Max may end up in jail, or worse, that he may hurt someone and that they will retaliate resulting in his death if he can’t get the help he needs.
Through everything, Collier says that she still loves Max.
“With all my heart,” she said. “With everything in me. I would not have gone 12 years if I didn’t. I just can’t do it anymore. At some point, you have to give up. I have to let go or both of us are gonna drown.”
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