Name: Ray Burssie Collins
Case Classification: Endangered Missing
Missing Since: July 31, 1987
Location Last Seen: Salida, Chaffee County, Colorado
Date of Birth: October 3, 1929
Age: 57 years old
Weight: 150 lbs.
Hair Color: Brown. Parted on the left side.
Eye Color: Blue
Distinguishing Marks/Features: Tan complexion. He has a scar on bridge of nose and three deformed fingers (tips of fingers missing) on right hand (pinky, ring and middle) due to a carpentry accident. He spoke with a southern accent.
Fingerprints: Not Available
Jewelry: gold ring with a green October birth stone. The stone was oval with a Cabochon cut and encircled with a ring of tiny beads.
Additional Personal Items: wore reading glasses.
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. Three weeks into the trip, a family emergency called Birth back to Lake Wales. A few days later, Caffey said he dropped off Collins, who wanted to see the Grand Canyon, at a bus station in Colorado Springs. Later that month, Caffey returned to Florida driving Collins' Toyota pickup, which also held Collins' clothes and mining equipment. Collins was never heard from again.
During previous investigations, Colorado detectives discovered Caffey bought two $25,000 life insurance policies on both Birth and Collins before their trip. Birth and Collins were aware at the time that Caffey had purchased the insurance, since Caffey considered the trip a business venture. But the other two did not do the same. Birth could not afford to take out insurance, and Collins' expectations of the trip were not as serious as Caffey's. Caffey had also collected $5,000 from Collins to mine minerals on the Colorado claim. But, as detectives learned, the mining camp they set up was on public land frequented by prospectors. Caffey later collected the life insurance funds after Collins was declared dead by the state in 1989. Caffey hasn't been cooperated with investigators.
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 and his wife at the time had taken several trips to Franklin, North Carolina, to mine for rare rocks. He called a couple of times during the three men's trip to tell her that he was having fun and that they had not found much. He did not mention wanting to visit the Grand Canyon. 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.
The case was re-opened in 2008 and Colorado investigators worked a joint investigation with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Winter Haven and Lake Wales police departments.
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.
Agency Name: Chaffee County Sheriff's Office
Agency Contact Person: Detective Andy Rohrich
Agency Phone Number: 719-530-5729
Agency E-Mail: N/A
Agency Case Number: 87-2613
NCIC Case Number: Unknown
NamUs Case Number: 12001
NamUs Colorado Bureau of Investigation
Added: 2/15/2008; Last Updated: 4/18/2017
Questions or comments? Please contact appropriate member of the Area Team
** Listed information is from the time of disappearance.