"Person of Interest" Named in Kevin Collins Case

The disappearance of Kevin Collins was one of first to go national with Kevin's face appearing on milk cartons and national news magazines. If this latest clue proves true, he was never more than two blocks from the point he disappaared.

By Lori Preuitt
|  Thursday, Feb 7, 2013  |  Updated 8:29 AM PDT
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SFPD named a

SFPD named a "person of interest" in the 1984 disappearance of Kevin Collins. Kevin's brother, Stephen Collins, said the news is bittersweet. Terry McSweeney reports.

Photos and Videos

SFPD Name Person of Interest in 1984 Cold Case

A man who was questioned in the days after 10-year-old Kevin Collins disappeared in 1984 is now a person of interest in the case. Aruturo Santiago explains what lead to the break.

Raw Video: Police Search SF Home in Connection With 1984 Kidnap Case

Investigators dug through concrete Tuesday in search of remains of Kevin Collins. Kevin was ten years old when he disappeared on his way home from school in February 1984.
More Photos and Videos

One of the best-known child kidnapping cases in the country is back in the news.

San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr held a news conference Wednesday to announce they now have a "person of interest" in the 1984 disappearance of 10-year-old Kevin Collins. He was last seen walking home from a basketball game and has never been since since. His face was one of the earliest to be put on the back of a milk carton across the country in the search for missing children.

"It's hard to think that this isn't it," said Stephens Collins, Kevin's brother, adding that the news is bittersweet. "This is more information, and answers what (may have) happened to Kevin. But what does that bring? That brings emotions of what happens to Kevin."

Suhr identified the man as Dan Therrien, who lived in a home just a couple blocks where Kevin was last seen in 1984. It's near the corner of Masonic Avenue and Page Street. Therrien died in 2008.

Also complicating matters, Therrien went by at least five aliases. Police said he used the name Wayne Jackson at the time of Kevin's disappearance.

Police stopped short of calling him a suspect, and instead said he was a "person of interest." Suhr also asked for the public's help in coming up with any information that might be relevant to the case.

At the conference, police said that detectives realize this is a long shot, but they're just hoping someone will remember him.

"This case is a case that haunts the San Francisco Police  Department," Police Chief Greg Suhr said.

Investigators looking at the case recently realized Therrien had a lengthy criminal past in both California and Canada, including a felony for a lewd act on a child. They didn't know that at the time because he had used other names. Police said in 1981, he had served six months in jail after he plead guilty to a felony charge of lewd act on a child. The victim was seven years old.

The Canadian case was also previously unknown: He was arrested in 1973 allegedly kidnapping and sexually assaulting two 13-year-old boys.

In the Canadian case Therrien -- who police also identified Wednesday as Wayne Jackson -- went on the lam and was never arrested. Police didn't release where it happened in Canada or any other details.

Therrien was eyed by police at the time of Kevin's kidnapping, too, according to sources, and he  had consented to a search at the time. But he was never formally arrested or named a suspect in Kevin's disappearance.

Kevin's story captured national attention. He was last seen was on his way home from a basketball practice at St. Agnes School in the Haight and was last seen talking to a man with blonde hair waiting for a bus at the corner Oak Street and Masonic. Normally his older brother would have been with him, but that day his brother was home sick.

Police said Therrien matched the general description of that man, who also was seen with a large black dog who seen talking to Kevin the night he disappeared.  Therrien had a black dog at the time.

Last month, San Francisco police searched the home where Therrien lived in 1984 and removed several bones that were located under concrete in the garage. But those bones turned out to be from a small animal.

Cold case investigators said last week that they realized recently that cadaver dogs were never used when the home was searched in the 1980s. 

 

On Tuesday night, the the lead cold case investigator visited the home of Kevin's mother. Investigators spent a couple hours with the boy's family and left without comment. They said they showed the family photos of Therrien at the time Kevin went missing to see if they family might have known him.

Other Aliases:

  • Raymond William Stewart – DOB: 1947
  •  Kelley Lee Dawson – DOB: 1947
  •  Wayne Jackson (name he gave police in 1984) – DOB: 1954
  •  Kelley Sean Stewart – DOB: 1949
  •  Dan Leonard Therrien (name he died under) – DOB: 1956

Kevin Collins would have been 39 years old on Jan. 24.

"What we're looking for now is anybody that saw this guy in 1984,  anybody that talked to this guy back in 1984, anybody that talked to somebody  that talked to this guy back in 1984," Suhr said. "We would love to find the  whereabouts of that little boy."

Anyone with information on this matter is asked to contact the SFPD Major Crimes Unit at (415) 553-1145. Information can be given anonymously at (415) 575-4444, or via text message to Text a Tip at TIP411 and begin the message with SFPD.

There are two more photos of the "person of interest" below. At the time he went under the fame 

NBC Bay Area's Terry McSweeney contributed to this report.

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