Slain Minnesota mom worked at psych hospital, tried to help son suspected of killing her
Receia Kollie was a registered nurse at Prairie St. John's hospital, a mental health and addiction treatment facility in Fargo.
FARGO — A Moorhead woman killed last week, allegedly by her mentally ill son, cared for patients at a hospital that specializes in psychiatric treatment for children, teens and adults.
Receia Kollie, 56, was a registered nurse in the inpatient psychiatric unit at Prairie St. John’s hospital in Fargo, according to Jeff Herman, the facility’s CEO.
Herman said in the days before her death, Receia Kollie requested a change in her shift hours because of safety concerns at home.
“She was really an outstanding person. It's a tragedy for the family and for our Prairie family,” Herman said.
James Diawo Kollie Jr., 25, is accused of killing his mother with a sharp object in the family’s home on Dec. 1, according to court records and police. She was supposed to meet a family member that night but didn’t show, prompting others to go to the home, where they found her on the floor of the entryway.
Kollie Jr. was arrested at a laundromat the next evening in Wahpeton, a city about 50 miles south of Fargo. He is charged in Clay County District Court with second-degree murder, and he remains in a Wahpeton jail with a $1 million bail amount, awaiting extradition.
On Wednesday, Dec. 7, a 2016 black Honda Pilot belonging to his mother was found on the property of a Wahpeton business, a few miles from the laundromat.
'Everything you would want'
Receia Kollie had been a psych nurse at Prairie since the spring of 2021, Herman said, and was a beloved member of the team.
“Very well respected, a great nurse. Incredibly kind person. Everything you would want from an employee,” he said.
She provided the kind of help to patients that her son could likely have benefited from, had she been able to convince him to accept it.
According to a GoFundMe account, set up to help the family pay for funeral and burial expenses, James Kollie Jr. was "deeply troubled."
“Receia's never-ending efforts to encourage him to turn his life around and seek help, unfortunately, resulted in her death. There are no words to describe the pain and confusion we're facing,” her family wrote on the website.
Gabriel Barbly, pastor of Harvest Intercontinental Church in south Fargo, said Receia Kollie had been a member of the church since 2014.
Receia Kollie used to live in Fargo, but moved to Moorhead a little more than a year ago, Barbly said.
"She was very lively, a people person. She was a woman very determined," Barbly said. "She kept the family together."
He sighed heavily, saying the church was going through a hard time coming to grips with Receia Kollie's death.
"To kill your mother, you must be very, very, very mentally sick," Barbly said, adding that James Kollie Jr. visited the church in 2014.
Receia Kollie’s death came just two days after her son was released from jail after threatening to kill her.
In the earlier incident, she told Moorhead police her son has a history of mental illness and volatile emotions, and believed he could kill someone if he wanted.
While Clay County District Judge Leah duCharme did not set bail for James Kollie Jr. on the misdemeanor domestic assault charge for that earlier incident, she did request a no-contact order to keep him away from his mother.
Herman said Receia Kollie typically worked 3 to 11 p.m. shifts at Prairie St. John’s hospital, but recently asked to be moved to a dayside shift due to concerns about going home at night.
He didn’t know details, but said her schedule was being adjusted to accommodate the request and that she was to start that new shift soon after she was killed.
Herman said after learning of Receia Kollie’s death, Prairie arranged for counselors to provide support for her coworkers. The hospital shared the GoFundMe account by email with staff, giving them an opportunity to help the family.
Fleeing civil war
Born in Monrovia, Liberia, Receia graduated high school in 1989, the same year the Liberian Civil War began, her family wrote on the GoFundMe website.
She fled the country with her high school sweetheart, James Kollie, and the two married, settled in the Ivory Coast on the southern coast of West Africa and started a family.
In 2001, they moved to the U.S., where Receia later pursued her dream to become a registered nurse, which she achieved at age 54.
She’s survived by her husband, James Kollie, daughters Recemeia and Jemeia Kollie, and her son, James Kollie Jr.
“The only thing that gives us peace is knowing that she is resting in heaven,” her family wrote.
Herman said his biggest concern is that this tragic event will create further stigma for those struggling with their mental health.
“I don't want people to think that everyone walking around with mental illness is someone who's capable of committing this kind of violence,” he said.
He said 26% of all Americans could have a mental health diagnosis at any point in any given year.
“We have treated doctors, teachers, nurses, lawyers, accountants … every walk of life imaginable," Herman said. "This is an absolute outlier of a case … a tragedy that we would never have foreseen."