Retired trooper convicted of fondling a child commits suicide in prison

Paul Pete Collins, a former Mississippi

State trooper who was sentenced to 10 years for fondling a child,

committed suicide today (Sunday) by hanging himself in a prison

cell.

That's according to Mississippi Department of Corrections

Commissioner Chris Epps.

The 62-year-old Collins spent years with the Mississippi Highway

Patrol, receiving praise from supervisors and several awards for

his work.

President Clinton even awarded him the Presidential Citation for

an Outstanding Enforcement Officer in 1994.

After retiring from the highway patrol, Collins became a highly

sought-after motivational speaker only to be disgraced by charges

he fondled a 13-year-old girl.

He was sentenced Friday in Lee County to 15 years with five

suspended and 10 to serve. He was sent to do his time at the

Central Mississippi Correctional Facility in Rankin County.

That's where Epps says his body was found hanging at 2:44 p.m.

Epps said the investigation was continuing and few details.

Collins was convicted Thursday in Lee County on one count of

fondling a child under the age of 16.

Prosecutors say the touching occurred while Collins was visiting

a home where the child was spending the night.