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California police say death investigation is murder case

CALIFORNIA, Mo. (KMIZ)

A California, Missouri, man has been charged with murder in a death that police initially said might have been because of natural causes.

The Moniteau County prosecutor charged James L. Collier on Wednesday with first-degree murder and assault of a special victim. California police called the Missouri State Highway Patrol early Wednesday for help with a death investigation in an apartment at 310 S. East St., according to a probable cause statement released by California police.

Chris Murphy is a resident of California, Missouri. He said he was good friends with the victim and James Collier and had known the family for five years. Murphy said losing his friend this soon was not on his mind.

"No, nobody would have ever expected this to happen," said Murphy

Officers found a dead person inside the apartment and Collier with blood on his clothing, according to the statement. Collier head-butted a Moniteau County deputy and later told officers under interrogation that "this was my fault," police allege. Police say he also made a statement admitting to the murder while in a room at the jail, and a body-worn camera picked up the statement.

Collier later admitted to fighting with the victim in another interrogation, saying he didn't remember exactly what happened. He also told investigators he hears voices and has visions.

The probable cause statement says the victim, identified as WAC, had several facial injuries and bleeding. Collier's hand was swollen and broken, the statement says.

The highway patrol has not confirmed the name of the person killed. However, Murphy said the victim's name is William Collier and James Collier is William's son.

Murphy says William was a good person who loved motorcycles, tacos, and football.

"It's going to be hard not seeing his smiling face anymore and eating tacos with him. He was a very good man," Murphy said. "William loved to talk about football, he loved the Kansas City Chiefs, he loved to eat tacos and we'd go out to eat together several times."

Murphy said he is still trying to wrap his head around what happened. "It's heart-wrenching when something like this happens, it's hard to describe, sick to your stomach, you want to puke, it's just hard to grasp that this has happened," said Murphy.

Collier was jailed without bond. No hearings have been set in his case and no lawyer is listed for him in online court records.

California police had said Wednesday that the death was likely from natural causes. Police released no other information until the probable cause statement was released Thursday.

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Matthew Sanders

Matthew Sanders is the digital content director at ABC 17 News.

Joushua Blount

Joushua Blount hails from Cleveland, Ohio and has a bachelor’s degree in media communications from the University of Toledo. He also has a master’s degree from the University Of Alabama. Roll Tide!

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