NEVADA COUNTY -- Another twist in a small town murder mystery has all 166 people in Washington wondering if their fugitive has finally been found.
"So they found him dead! Doggone it!" said Kevin Potter, honorary mayor of Washington.
Detectives certainly hope so.
"You don't wanna wander off the beaten path when a guy like this is out there," said Lt. Rob Bringolf.
The Nevada County Sheriff's Office says Kurt Andrew Collins is more than likely the man who was found dead Sunday four miles out of town. The body was found by a runner near the South Yuba Trail and it was badly decomposed.
"He disappeared into the woods, which he's been doing for 30 years," Bringolf said.
Collins was wanted for the attempted murder of Steven Wolf, a Placer County Search and Rescue volunteer. He was looking for a missing hiker last August when detectives say Collins popped up out of the woods, shot him and ran back in. Luckily, Wolf survived.
"It's horrific," Brungolf said.
What's really horrific is what detectives later discovered Collins might also have done. He's a person of interest in the murder of Michael Maloney. He was found in relatively the same area where Wolf was shot, just one month earlier.
"Forensic evidence that linked one case to another," Bringolf said.
And then, there was Collins' old mining partner, who has been missing since 2003.
"Yeah, Joe Murphy ... everybody called him Black Dog Joe," Potter said.
Everybody knows everybody.
"Well, of course," Potter said.
And Potter says this is who Collins was.
"Oh man, he knew how to survive," Potter said.
Just another guy who lived out in the woods, who mined for gold and came to town once a month to sell it. He never thought he was capable to killing someone he knew.
"He surely didn't seem like the type to me," Potter said.
But if he had, detectives say, that could have been why he popped up out of the woods to shoot a stranger.
"We've definitely discussed that as a potential motive for the shooting of Mr. Wolf. Maybe he thought we were out there looking for him," Bringolf said.