Nevada County authorities identify remains found in November as Kurt Andrew Collins | TheUnion.com

Nevada County authorities identify remains found in November as Kurt Andrew Collins

Nevada County authorities have positively identified remains found in November off the South Yuba Trail as belonging to Kurt Andrew Collins, a release states.

DNA testing confirmed what authorities suspected at the time — that the remains were those of Collins, a suspect in the August 2016 shooting of Placer County Sheriff's Office Search & Rescue member Steve Wolf.

Sheriff Keith Royal said Collins' body was badly decomposed, though it appeared there was no foul play in the death.

"It's very, very difficult, if not impossible, to determine his cause of death," Royal said.

A backlog of cases led to the delay in identifying the remains, the sheriff said.

A runner in late November spotted the remains about four miles downstream of Washington. He called authorities, who found the body. No personal identification was nearby.

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Collins, a gold prospector who lived in the wilderness near Washington for two decades, was considered a person of interest in the July 2016 murder of Michael Mahoney, the release states.

Authorities said they also considered Collins a person of interest in the 2013 disappearance of Joseph Charles Murphy, known as Black Dog Joe. Murphy prospected for gold with Collins before he disappeared.

Authorities said they've suspended both the homicide and missing person cases, pending any new developments.

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