Man who lived 20 years in Glenwood caves gets probation in gun charge
January 4, 2017
A 59-year-old man who spent 20 years living in caves near Glenwood Springs was sentenced Tuesday to a year of probation on a weapons possession charge, authorities say.
Chief Judge Marcia Krieger also fined Michael Ray Collins $500 Tuesday during a federal court hearing in Grand Junction. As a condition of his probation, Collins can't possess guns for hunting, protection or anything else. He also was warned the trailer where he now lives can be searched for weapons at any time.
When asked whether he had anything to say on his behalf Collins replied, "I just want to go to work. That's all I ever do, is go to work." He he has worked for 10 years as a maintenance man near Glenwood.
Garfield County sheriff's deputies spotted Collins on Nov. 25, 2015, during a search in the mountains above Glenwood. Collins told them he "had a cave" where he had been living for three years, court records indicate.
Collins had been convicted on a felony charge of attempted assault on a peace officer in Illinois in 1994 and decided to move to the Colorado Rockies after living on a South Dakota Indian reservation.
On Dec. 9, 2015, a Bureau of Land Management ranger searched the cave, which is on BLM property, and found three rifles and a Ruger .44 Magnum handgun and 2,612 rounds of ammunition. Collins was originally charged in April with being a felon in possession of a firearm and depreciation of public property. The second charge was later dropped during plea bargaining.
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"He was originally living in this cave as a fugitive for a long, long time," federal prosecutor Pete Hautzinger said during Tuesday's sentencing hearing.
He said that Collins had survivalist-type books and articles in the cave and had lived in several caves during the past 20 years. Six BLM rangers spent about 10 hours each to clean the cave, according to court records. The rangers took eight cubic yards of trash to a landfill.