Nevada County Sheriff asking for public’s help in locating homicide suspect Kurt Collins

2005 DMV photo of Collins

August 31, 2017 – On July 18th, 2016 Michael Mahoney was discovered deceased just outside his summer cabin located in the Town of Washington. The Sheriff’s Major Crimes Unit has determined Mahoney’s Death to be the result of a homicide and have exhausted all leads; the case is now cold.

On August 9th, 2016, the Nevada County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Team, with the assistance of the Placer County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Team, was searching for a missing hiker along the Yuba River Trail Head from the Town of Washington. During the early evening hours of August 8th, 2016, a member of the Placer County Search and Rescue Team was shot by an unknown assailant near a campsite along the river. Sheriff’s detectives located physical evidence at the campsite that led them to identify a suspect, Kurt Andrew Collins and have a warrant issued for his arrest, listing charges of attempted murder and inflicting great bodily injury during the commission of a felony. Kurt Collins is a 61 year old male, approximately 6 feet tall, 180 pounds with gray hair and blue eyes. He is a gold prospector who has lived in the wilderness of the Yuba River near the Town of Washington for approximately 20 years and is known to live a “hermit” like lifestyle, largely avoiding public contact.

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Using a variety of conventional and unconventional methods, the Sheriff’s Office has made several attempts to locate Collins and no member of the public has reported seeing him since the shooting. Collins may have permanently left the area near the Town of Washington and is possibly continuing his gold prospecting in another location.

Based on the close geographic proximity of the shooting of a SAR member and Mahoney’s death, coupled with the relatively close time frame of the two, Kurt Collins is a strong person of interest in the homicide of Michael Mahoney.

Additionally, on October 3th of 2003, Joseph Charles Murphy (AKA Black Dog Joe) was reported missing out of the Town of Washington. Joseph Murphy reportedly worked with Collins, prospecting for gold, just prior to his disappearance. Collins is a person of interest and wanted for questioning in that case as well.

The Nevada County Sheriff’s Office is asking for the public’s help. Additionally, the family of Michael Mahoney is offering a reward of $10,000.00 for information leading to the identification and capture of the person responsible for Michael Mahoney’s murder. Those who wish to provide information are encouraged to contact the Sheriff’s Major Crimes Unit at (530)265-1263.