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Beloved 98-year-old Banning man murdered in his home, police seek tips

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BANNING, CA – A 98-year-old Banning man who was attacked and killed in his home last month was formally identified Tuesday as Earnest Collins.

“Mr. Collins was a long-time resident of Banning who was known and liked by several people in his community,” Banning police said.

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Collins was found unconscious at his home in the 500 block of N. Allen Street on April 19 around 2:38 p.m. There have been no arrests in the case yet and police say they are looking for tips.

“We thank the public for their assistance in bringing justice to Mr. Collins, his family and friends,” Banning police said.

According to an obituary for Collins, he was born on January 5, 1926 in Foreman, Arkansas, the son of Clay Collins Sr. and Caroline Johnson Collins.

He was then drafted into the United States Army in 1946 and received an honorable discharge. He married his first wife, Vera Odessa Collins, and together they had three children: Allen James Collins, Johnnie Earl Collins and Jimmy Ray Collins, the obituary said.

From 1959 to 1979, Collins worked in a cotton mill in Calipatria.

“He was such a great people person that he quickly rose to become a night shift supervisor,” the obituary said.

After retiring from the factory, Collins married his second wife, Lucille Sullivan.

Collins was preceded in death by both of his wives and two of his sons, Allen James and Jimmy Ray.

He is survived by sons Johnnie Earl of Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Bobbie Lee Collins of Phoenix, Arizona, and eight grandchildren: Jason Anthony Collins, Michelle Lavette Collins, Dione Lamar Collins, Datrice Lanette Collins, Deandra Renae Collins, Dorian Ray Collins, Allen James Collins, Jr. and Lorraine Denise Collins – several great-grandchildren, great-grandchildren and a host of nieces, nephews, other relatives and many friends.

Anyone with information about the homicide is asked to contact the Banning Police Detective Bureau at 951-922-3170.