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'There's a purpose in this': Relative of man, four children killed by TDCJ escapee says family is leaning on faith

Glenn Collins, the brother of Mark Collins, spoke at a church service on Sunday. Meanwhile, the Leon County coroner said all 5 victims had apparently been stabbed.

HOUSTON — During Sunday service at Houston Northwest Church, a relative of the man murdered alongside his four grandsons last week shared that the family's faith is unwavering. 

"You have to understand that, we're okay," Glenn Collins told the congregation. 

His brother, Mark Collins, and the boys were killed by prison escapee Gonzalo Lopez last week on their Centerville ranch, officials said. 

"My short message is: God is still God and we're not -- and there's a purpose in this, no doubt," Collins said. 

Three of the boys who died were brothers -- 18-year-old Waylon Collins, 16-year-old Carson Collins and 11-year-old Hudson Collins. The fourth boy has been identified as 11-year-old Bryson Collins, a cousin.  

Justice of the Peace Jack Keeling, acting as Leon County coroner, said the victims all appeared to have been stabbed and may have suffered other wounds. He said the final autopsy report could be weeks away.

Meantime, the investigation into Lopez's escape continues. He had been on the run for some three weeks after crashing a TDCJ transport bus he managed to hijack.

He stole guns and a pickup from the Collins' ranch and was later killed in a shootout south of San Antonio.

The bus was carrying Lopez and other inmates from Gatesville to Huntsville for medical appointments. TDCJ announced Monday, those inmate transports have been suspended pending the outcome of the investigation.

RELATED: Tomball community rallies around Collins family after quintuple murder

RELATED: 'We are devastated': Five family members, including 4 Tomball ISD students, murdered near Centerville

"If it becomes necessary to do a transport such as releasing or an emergency medical appointment, additional security measures will be implemented," prison officials said in a statement. "The agency is conducting an internal Serious Incident Review and also intends to bring in an outside firm to conduct an independent review to identify factors that may have lead to the escape of Lopez."

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

Friends and relatives of the victims don't believe Mark Collins had been told that a burglary near his ranch was linked to Lopez a couple of days before the murders.

"And it's sad they didn't know he was still in this area," Toni Apodaca said after leaving flowers to a growing memorial outside the home. 

She said most people in the area thought Lopez was long gone given his ties to the Mexican Mafia.

"If Mr. Collins knew he was still in this area he would've likely – I'm sure he would not have brought his grandsons up here," Apodaca said.

"It's just a terrible thing – it's so sad – something that shouldn't have happened, our prayers are with the family," Mario Apodaca told us.

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