Details of Disappearance Collins was last seen in Salida, Colorado sometime during July 1987. He resided in Winter Haven, Florida at the time of his disappearance. In July 1987, Collins and two friends, Dave Caffey and Richard Birth, quit their jobs and went to Salida on a three-month gem mining expedition. Three weeks into the trip, Birth had a family emergency and had to return home to Lake Wales, Florida.
Caffey stated Collins wanted to see the Grand Canyon, so Caffey dropped him off at a bus station in Colorado Springs, Colorado a few days after Birth quit. Collins's family found this story odd, as he had already visited the Grand Canyon several years earlier. He has never been heard from again. Later in July, Caffey returned to Florida driving Collins's Toyota pickup. Collins's clothing and mining equipment were still inside the vehicle.
A photograph of Caffey is posted with this case summary. He had purchased $50,000 in life insurance on both Collins and Birth prior to the trip, which the men were aware of. Collins's policy was cashed in when he was declared legally dead in 1988; his brother collected half the sum and Caffey took the other half. Birth and Collins had given Caffey $5,000 each before the trip. Caffey told them they were mining on private land and he needed the money to lease the property, but in fact the land was public.
Collins's case was reopened in 2008, and Colorado law enforcement officials traveled to Florida to interview Collins's mining partners. Police stated Birth has been very cooperative in the investigation, but Caffey has not.
Caffey is the prime suspect in Collins's disappearance. He reportedly bragged about killing Collins in the years following 1987. These statements have not been confirmed and, when interviewed by the press about Collins's disappearance, he said he did not know what happened to him.
Collins has work experience in the auto repair, carpentry and construction fields. He was married at least twice and has a large family to whom he was devoted. Foul play is suspected in his disappearance, which remains unsolved.
- Chaffee County Sheriff's Office
Updated 7 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated September 23, 2012; middle name and picture added, distinguishing characteristics updated.