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Collard receives max sentence for 1980 murder of wife

ELIZABETHTOWN-As she thought about her mother, a lone tear came down the face of Tammy Vanderwerker.

She said that she would love to be able to hold her, to have her get to know her grandchildren, to have a mother-daughter relationship with a woman she barely knew.

June Marion Hopkins Collard was taken away from her two daughters and son in 1980 when her husband, Thomas A. Collard, said she left the family.

On March 31, Mr. Collard was sentenced under a plea agreement to an indeterminate amount of prison time between eight and 24 years for the self-confessed murder of his wife.

Collard previously had pled guilty to a count of first-degree manslaughter.

In a packed Essex County courtroom, Collard entered, in chains, at around 3:15 p.m., looking down as District Attorney Kristy L. Sprague announced that Vanderwerker wished to address the court.

During her remarks, Collard mostly looked down, often making facial expressions with his mouth.

"He buried her body right outside our bathroom window," Vanderwerker said. "That is quite sickening if you ask me."

Vanderwerker, who admitted at the beginning of her remarks that speaking to the court, "was not easy" for her, referred to her father only as, "the monster."

"From the time he killed our mother, we stopped being kids," she said. "I was the one that took the place of my mother in the family. He said to me over and over again, you're just like your mother and I will do the same thing to you. Because of him, I live my life in fear."

Vanderwerker said that she remembered few things about her mother, as she was 8 years old when June Collard was killed.

"Mom made our clothes, and her favorite song was 'Islands in the Stream,'" she said. "Those are all the memories I have of her. I should have known more about her. She should have been my best friend."

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