Man arrested for assaulting jogger was a career criminal


Attacker had just been released on probation.

A woman jogging Monday morning was attacked, beaten and robbed, and authorities say the culprit should not have been on the streets.

Eatonton police officers arrested Anthony Bernard Collins Jr., 20, of Whippowill Drive, Eatonton, on July 23, charging him with aggravated battery, aggravated assault and robbery by intimidation, according to Police Chief Kent Lawrence. He was denied bond by a Putnam County judge. 

In a press release, Lawrence said Collins was serving time on felony probation and has a criminal record.

Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills said Collins was arrested at the age of 17 by Athens-Clarke County police for theft by receiving stolen property, and was put on probation. In 2016, he was arrested again in Athens-Clarke County on two counts of burglary, interference with government property and criminal attempt to commit a felony. He was sentenced to 10 years, to serve two in jail, but was released from prison 20 months later, in January 2018.

March 6, he was arrested, again in Clarke County, for probation violation, Sills said. He was let out on March 15, continuing his probation. On March 27, he was arrested in Greensboro for stealing a car. On April 6, Greene County Sheriff’s Office released Collins on his own recognizance, Sills said, but Clarke County picked him up for probation violation. While in jail in Clarke County, on May 14, he received more charges of felony obstruction and interference with government property. On July 12, he was out on bond.

“Now, here he is in Putnam County robbing and beating people,” Sills said. “This is nothing more than another example that criminal justice reform is not working and this man should not have been out on the streets.”

Monday morning around 7:15 a.m., a middle-aged woman was jogging on Phillips Drive in Eatonton, when Collins reportedly was hiding on her route and jumped out to rob her of her cell phone, Eatonton Police Investigator Howell Cardwell said. As she was being attacked, the woman resisted and fought back. She reportedly sustained injuries, including broken bones.

“We responded quickly to the call,” Cardwell said, noting several officers from multiple agencies responded and immediately canvased the neighborhoods searching for the perpetrator. Putnam County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Cora and her handler, Holly Collins, assisted in the search and discovered what appeared to be the assailant’s shirt on the ground. A Georgia Bureau of Investigations agent was nearby in the area and also responded to assist in the search, Lawrence said.

Collins was on foot, Cardwell said, and was apprehended approximately one quarter-mile from where the attack happened. The entire incident was captured on security video at several nearby buildings, Cardwell said. 

The woman was taken by private vehicle to Putnam General Hospital, where she was treated for her injuries.

Sills later noted that Collins is on probation from his Clarke County convictions until 2025.

“He should not have been released, and had he not been, this crime would have simply not occurred and this woman would not have had to go through this,” he said.

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