Andrew Gant, Volusia Sheriff’s Office
Brittany Kershaw, Flagler County Sheriff’s Office
DELEON SPRINGS MAN CHARGED WITH 2ND DEGREE MURDER AFTER VICTIM’S BODY DISCOVERED IN FLAGLER COUNTY
A DeLeon Springs man has been charged with second-degree murder after a joint investigation by sheriff’s detectives from Volusia and Flagler counties led to his confession.
Ronald H. Collins Jr., 51 (DOB 12/24/1968), was arrested Thursday night at the Volusia Sheriff’s Office District 2 headquarters in DeLand, after an interview with detectives from both counties.
The investigation started Monday in Bunnell, where Flagler deputies responded to a report of a body found rolled up in a comforter and placed on a futon inside an RV at 163 Ohio Ave. Collins was identified as the renter of the property, but he was not on scene.
On Thursday, the victim was positively identified as Jillian Petrotto, 31 (DOB 4/30/1988), who had frequently been seen with Collins in the past.
Collins came to the Sheriff’s Office on Thursday afternoon and confessed to killing Petrotto inside his residence at 4856 U.S. 17 in DeLeon Springs. Petrotto had been staying with him recently and the two were in an occasional romantic relationship. Collins said he’d blacked out during the incident and did not remember it in detail, but said he killed Petrotto because he was angry she was going out to get money to buy drugs. Petrotto sustained blunt force trauma to her head and was strangled.
“Our detectives and CSI did a great job and worked through the holidays,” said Flagler Sheriff Rick Staly. “Within a few hours FCSO detectives developed a person of interest and immediately worked with the Volusia Sheriff’s Office to jointly solve this case. This should send a message to criminals that regardless of jurisdictional boundaries we all work together and we will get you.”
“Thanks to hard work and cooperation between our detectives, Ronald Collins is in jail where he belongs, facing the consequences he deserves,” Volusia Sheriff Mike Chitwood said. “We hope Ms. Petrotto’s family and friends can find some peace knowing her killer is brought to justice.”
Collins was transported to the Volusia County Branch Jail, where he remained in custody Friday morning with no bond allowed.
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