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New details on how Gonzalo Lopez escaped on prison transport

The five relatives were found dead earlier this month in Leon County. Investigators say they were killed by escapee Gonzalo Lopez.

HOUSTON — As a family prepares to lay their loved ones to rest, investigators with Texas Department of Criminal Justice and Texas Department of Public Safety were back on the scene Thursday in Centerville.

This comes after the Southwestern Institute of Forensic Sciences issued preliminary causes of death for four boys and their grandfather, who investigators say were killed by escapee Gonzalo Lopez at their family ranch in Leon County earlier this month.   

The report was released Thursday by Leon County Justice of the Peace Judge Jack Keeling's Office.   

According to the report, Mark Collins, the grandfather, and 18-year-old Waylon Collins died from gunshot wounds and sharp force injuries. Mark Collins was shot in the abdomen and Waylon Collins was shot in the back.

The report also says 16-year-old Carson Collins, 11-year-old Bryson Collins and 11-year-old Hudson Collins all died of gunshot and stab wounds.

This is a preliminary report. The Southwestern Institute of Forensic Sciences tells KHOU11 a full autopsy won't be available for another 60 to 90 days. 

How was Lopez able to escape

Lopez escaped from a prison transport bus on May 12. He was killed in a shootout with officers on June 2 after investigators say he killed the family members. 

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

“What’s so unique about this is how long the manhunt lasted," said Dr. Mitchel Roth, a professor at Sam Houston State University.

“A lot of the information wasn’t released in a timely fashion, there’s still a lot of questions that need answering," said Dr. Roth.

Pictures released by TDCJ show a similar prison bus and the metal wire below the driver’s seat, where a spokesman says the escaped convict was able to break through, crawl on his stomach and attack the driver.

"The other inmates were creating a distraction on the bus by singing, yelling, sitting up and down and clapping their hands," said Robert Hurst, a TDCJ spokesman.

Earlier this week, State Senator John Whitmire told KHOU 11 he called for TDCJ to stop inmate transports until the investigation is complete and the agency agreed.

RELATED: TDCJ suspends inmate transport in wake of Gonzalo Lopez's escape

Dr. Roth says Texas has had high-profile escapes before.

“For instance, in 1998 when they had the escape from death row by Martin Gurule, they ended up moving death row, they didn’t do that beforehand," he said.

A GoFundMe has been set up for the family. If you want to help the family, you can donate here.

Gonzalo Lopez escape timeline

  • May 12 – Investigators say Lopez escaped his shackles, attacked a corrections officer and hijacked a prison bus in Leon County while being transported between prisons
  • May 13 – The search turned into a massive manhunt with resources from around the state coming to the Centerville area
  • May 18 – New photos were released of Lopez from before the hijacking They showed him cuffed while being led to the prison bus
  • May 25 – More new pictures were released by U.S. Marshals, showing Lopez’s tattoos as they continued to ask for help
  • June 2 – Authorities say Lopez killed a family of five, stole their truck and made his way to a rural area near San Antonio where he was killed in a shootout

Collins family funeral

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

RELATED: Funeral arrangements announced for Collins family

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 funeral service will be live-streamed on Houston Northwest Church's Facebook page and the church's website

The family burial will be private.

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