NEVADA COUNTY (CBS13) – Investigators believe human remains found along a Yuba River trail belong to a man who shot a search and rescue volunteer last year.
The grisly discovery was made on Sunday by a jogger.
While deputies can’t positively ID the man until DNA comes back, they are confident it’s indeed 61-year-old Kurt Collins.
“Part of the challenge in this investigation is that we really don’t know much about Mr. Collins,” said Lt. Rob Bringolf with Nevada County Sheriff’s Office.
That’s because he’s been off the grid.
“As far as we know, he’s been living this hermit lifestyle for the past three decades. Living in the river canyon, more or less off the land,” Bringolf said.
Collins resurfaced back in August 2016 and officers allege he shot a Placer County Search and Rescue volunteer.
Steve Wolf is a longtime volunteer and was with two others searching in rugged terrain when he was shot near the small town of Washington. He suffered an injury that set him back six months but is now back volunteering.
“We know very little about his psychology, what would drive him to do something like this, what the motive might be,” Bringolf said.
Even more troubling, investigators believe it’s not Collins’ first time.
“He’s been a person of interest in two other cases in the Washington area,”
Deputies allege Collins killed a man back in 2003 and another just weeks before the rescuer was shot.
“We were always out there with the idea that this guy’s out there is looking at us while we were out there and that he’s been out here for 30 years doing it, so he’s doing it better than we are,” Bringolf said.
With enough evidence gathered along the river trails to link the body to Collins, deputies hope the community can rest at ease.
“We hope that if nothing else comes out of this that there is some resolution for those towns and people as well knowing that, hey we can go outside and be safe doing,” he said.
It could take months for the DNA results to come back.