Carl and Sarah Collier couldnt have children of their own, so they decided to adopt two children to raise as their own. According to Christensen, more than 30 years later, they looked with pride upon their adopted son, Kevin, who is active in the church and followed his fathers footsteps in working for Delta Air Lines. However, Christensen reported that when it came to their adopted daughter, Carla, the Colliers had reason to seek group prayer at their Baptist church.
Carla took a different path. Christensen said that Carla had two daughters fathered by two different men and that she was also a known troublemaker. In fact, Carla was arrested on a drug conviction and was imprisoned at the Metro State Prison in the spring of 2004. At that time, the Colliers decided to have Holly live with them. Hollys father was unable to properly care for his daughter due to a car accident that left him paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair.
The Colliers had their hands full with Holly, who proved to be even more rebellious than her mother. She repeatedly tried to run away, although she was always brought back. No matter how much love and compassion the Colliers tried to show their granddaughter, they were rejected. It was clear that Holly was a deeply troubled young woman.
Following the murders, investigators found a poem written by Holly at the crime scene, which revealed valuable insight into her mental state leading up to the crimes. According to the Associated Press, the poem described how depressed she had been and that she cried herself to sleep. Even more troubling was a line of the poem that read, All I want to do is kill, the report stated. And kill she did.
Sandy also suffered her own problems growing up. Shirek suggested in an August 2004 11Alive.com article that her mother abandoned her when she was 15 months old. After that, she had three stepmothers, including one who was accused of physically abusing her. Having been abandoned or abused by the women closest to her in her family, Sandy looked for female companionship and acceptance elsewhere. She believed she found it in her relationship with Holly. The love Sandy received from her became so important in her life that she would do anything not to lose it -- even kill.
Fayette County Superior Court seal
On August 5, 2004
, the girls appeared in bulletproof vests before a Fayette County
magistrate court judge to hear the charges filed against them. Holly and Sandy were charged as adults with two felony counts of murder and two counts of malice murder. As the counts were being read aloud, Holly and Sandy sobbed, as if finally realizing the extent of their crimes.
In accordance with Georgia
state law, the death penalty does not apply to their case, because Holly and Sandy are under 17 years of age. If the girls are convicted of the murders, they could face up to life in prison. After the charges were read, the girls were escorted to two separate detention centers, where they remained until their bond hearing.
Two weeks later the girls appeared before a Superior Court judge to find out if they could be released on bond. During the proceedings, Lt. Col. Bruce Jordan testified that Sandy was deeply affected by the crimes she committed. Shirek reported that Holly and Sandy were not only denied bond for felony and malice murder charges but also faced new charges of armed robbery. The judge declared the girls a flight risk and said that he would accelerate the time before trial.
In February 2005, Holly and Sandy appeared at the Fayette County Superior Court and waived their rights to formal arraignments. In doing so, the girls thus entered pleas of not guilty. Their trial date was set for March 21, 2005, but it remains unclear where the trial will take place. The girls lawyers could file a motion for a change of venue, due to the enormous amount of media attention the case has drawn.