Nevada County authorities ID suspected shooter of search-and-rescue volunteer |

Nevada County authorities ID suspected shooter of search-and-rescue volunteer

Kurt Andrew Collins in 2005

Nevada County authorities have identified the man they say is responsible for the 2016 shooting of a search-and-rescue volunteer as Kurt Andrew Collins.

Authorities say Collins, 61, is wanted for attempted murder and inflicting great bodily injury during the commission of a felony. Collins shot Placer County volunteer Steven Wolf as Wolf and two others searched for a missing hiker in the Washington area.

The Nevada County Sheriff’s Office also wants to speak to Collins in connection with the July 2016 homicide of Michael Mahoney, and the 2003 disappearance of Joseph Charles Murphy, known as Black Dog Joe.

Mahoney’s family has offered a $10,000 reward to anyone providing information that leads to the identification and capture of the person responsible for Mahoney’s death, Sgt. Bob Jakobs said.

“Those who wish to provide information are encouraged to contact the Sheriff’s Major Crimes Unit at 530-265-1263,” Jakobs states in a release.

Collins, described as 6-foot tall, weighing 180 pounds and having gray hair and blue eyes, is called a “hermit” by authorities. He’s lived for around 20 years in the wilderness near Washington. His whereabouts remain unknown.

Authorities identified Collins as a suspect in the August 2016 shooting of Wolf after finding evidence at a nearby campsite. They issued an arrest warrant that month and made inquiries in Washington, though they opted against publicizing the search, fearing Collins would flee, Jakobs said.

After getting no information that led to Collins’ location, and responding to requests from the Mahoney family, authorities chose to ask the public for help, he added.

“We are aware that Michael Mahoney and Collins were previously acquainted,” the sergeant added. “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.”

Mahoney, 67, was found dead July 18, 2016, outside his summer cabin in Washington. Determining the death was a homicide, authorities exhausted all leads and the investigation turned into a cold case, Jakobs said.

Collins also is a person of interest in the October 2003 disappearance of Murphy, 53 at the time, from the Washington area. Authorities believe that Murphy worked with Collins prospecting for gold.

To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email or call 530-477-4239.

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