Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance
Details of Disappearance
Collins, a resident of Winter Haven, FL, was mineral collecting in Colorado with two male friends. Friends Dave Caffey, Richard Birth and Ray Collins quit their jobs and set out on a three-month mining expedition to Salida, Colorado, in July 1987, with hopes of finding gold and rare gems. Collins called his wife a couple of times during the trip to tell her that he was having fun and that they had not found much.
Three weeks into the trip Birth returned to Florida on a family emergency, then a few days later, Caffey returned driving Collins' pick-up truck, which also held Collins' clothes and mining equipment.
Caffey said that Collins had wanted to go to the Grand Canyon, so he dropped him off at a bus station in Colorado Springs. Collins hasn't been seen since.
When Collins did not come home, the family was suspicious. Married at least twice, Collins had a large family including three biological children, stepchildren and grandchildren.
It was later discovered that Caffey had taken out a $25,000 life insurance policy on on both Birth and Collins before the trip. Birth and Collins were aware at the time that Caffey had purchased the insurance. Caffey later collected the life insurance funds after Collins was declared dead by the state in 1989.
Caffey had also collected $5,000 from Collins to mine minerals on the Colorado claim. But the mining camp they set up was on public land frequented by prospectors.
Birth contacted Colorado authorities about two years after the trip, concerned that something tragic may have happened. By that time, he and Caffey were no longer friends. Birth told detectives that Caffey's behavior turned "weird" and hostile after they got to Colorado.
Collins grew up on a farm in Alabama and moved to Winter Haven in 1969. He worked as a mechanic at the Chevrolet Center for years. Years later, Collins switched to carpentry and construction, where he met Birth and Caffey.
If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
Chaffee County Sheriff's Office