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TDCJ: DNA evidence linking Gonzalo Lopez to area where family was killed came back after killings

Residents in the area had been critical of authorities saying, Mark Collins wouldn't have brought his grandsons to the cabin if he knew the convict was in the area.

HOUSTON — Mark Collins and four of his grandsons (18-year-old Waylon Collins, 16-year-old Carson Collins and 11-year-old Hudson Collins, along with their cousin, 11-year-old Bryson Collins) were killed in a weekend home they use for hunting and fishing last Thursday.

RELATED: Funeral arrangements announced for Collins family

Investigators said they believe escaped convicted killer Gonzalo Lopez stabbed them to death before stealing a truck and driving away from East Texas. He was eventually caught and killed after a chase and shootout with authorities in Atascosa County, which is just south of San Antonio.

RELATED: Gonzalo Lopez update | Escaped convict believed to have killed Houston-area family of 5, TDCJ says

On Tuesday, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice confirmed DNA had been collected from a nearby cabin two days prior to when the Collins family was killed. They said the DNA was taken from the cabin next door to where the Collinses were staying and it had been burglarized.

Neighbors were upset, saying they weren't told that the DNA belonged to Lopez and said Collins wouldn't have brought his family there if he had known the convicted killer was still on the loose in the area.

RELATED: Escaped convicted killer Gonzalo Lopez dead after shootout with officers south of San Antonio, TDCJ says

But TDCJ said the confirmation of the DNA evidence didn't come back to them until late Thursday. Investigators believe the family had already been killed.

TDCJ promised a comprehensive investigation into how Lopez was able to escape and elude search efforts for three weeks. There's no timeline for when the investigation will be completed, but when it is, it will be made public.

RELATED: Questions linger after DNA found at a nearby home days before Tomball family killed

A public visitation will take place for the Collins family from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Friday, June 10 at Houston Northwest Church, located at 19911 State Hwy. 249 in Houston. 

The public funeral service will take place at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 11 at Champion Forest Baptist Church, which is located at 15555 Stuebner Airline Rd. in Houston.

The escape

Lopez is a convicted killer who escaped police custody on May 12. Lopez got away by shedding his shackles and cutting through a metal barrier before stabbing a correctional officer and getting away on foot after the prison transport bus he had taken over crashed. The bus didn't get far after another guard shot out the bus' back tires with a shotgun.

Lopez was being transported from the Alfred Hughes Unit (outside of Gatesville in Central Texas) to a prison medical facility in Huntsville when he was able to escape.

Authorities said it's still unclear if anyone from the inside helped him get away and also said it's unclear if the bus was being followed.

Who was Lopez

Lopez was serving back-to-back life sentences for shooting at a Webb County, Texas sheriff's deputy in 2004 and killing a man with a pickax in Hidalgo County after holding him ransom on a drug debt.

It wasn't the first time Lopez managed to hide from law enforcement for an extended period of time. In 2004, he was able to run away from a police chase in South Texas and stayed hidden with the help of a cartel associate.

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