Nevada County death: Human remains found off South Yuba Trail | TheUnion.com

Nevada County death: Human remains found off South Yuba Trail

Nevada County authorities say they're investigating the discovery of a dead body found off the South Yuba Trail — remains they say may belong to Kurt Andrew Collins, who was wanted in connection with the 2016 shooting of a search-and-rescue volunteer.

The body, not yet positively identified, was spotted Sunday by a runner about four miles downstream of Washington. The runner called authorities, who responded and found the significantly decomposed remains of a white man, Sheriff Keith Royal said.

Deputies suspect no foul play, he added.

No identification was found near the remains, the sheriff said.

"We couldn't physically tell who it was," Royal said.

An autopsy occurred Tuesday, though no cause of death was determined, he added.

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Royal said that deputies returned Wednesday to the South Yuba Trail in an attempt to find the man's identification. None was found.

According to Royal, authorities believe the remains may be Collins' because of where it was found. Collins, 61, used several spots in the area to camp.

"He would frequent the food banks in North San Juan and the town of Washington," Royal said. "He has not been seen for some time."

Authorities hope to receive a DNA sample from Collins' family to determine if the remains do, in fact, belong to Collins. That process is expected to take months, Royal said.

The Sheriff's Office three months ago linked Collins to the August 2016 shooting of search-and-rescue volunteer Steven Wolf, who along with two others was looking for a missing hiker in the Washington area.

Wolf was struck in the hip. A helicopter removed the three searchers and Wolf later recovered. The missing hiker later was found deceased.

At the time sheriff's officials linked Collins to Wolf's shooting they also said they wanted to speak with him about the July 2016 homicide of Michael Mahoney, and the 2003 disappearance of Joseph Charles Murphy, known as Black Dog Joe.

Authorities called Collins a hermit, saying that he'd lived for some 20 years in the wilderness near Washington.

To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email ariquelmy@theunion.com or call 530-477-4239.