Pat Collins: last seen 20 years ago

It was twenty years ago yesterday that UVA physiology graduate student Pat Collins was last seen alive. Unfortunately for his parents and friends, the mysterious disappearance of the 27-year-old has never been solved.
His case was long treated by the UVA Police Department under former chief Michael Sheffield as a walkaway, according to Hook contributor Barbara Nordin.
According to her two 1997 cover stories, one of which took first place for Investigative reporting from the Virginia Press Association, the UVA P.D., having never before dealt with a possible homicide, failed to interview many of Collins' classmates and any of his Belmont neighbors, failed to send Collins' answering-machine tape to the FBI, failed to test a Kool cigarette butt and other evidence for fingerprints, and somehow lost Collins' calendar (whose current month had been ripped away but which might have contained impressions of lost text).
Sheffield, now retired, insisted that the case remained open and that all leads would be pursued.
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3 comments

Wow, it's about time someone started talking about this infamous case. I'm sure Ms. Nordin did a stellar job, but did you know that the San Jose Mercury News did a story of their own back in the late 1980s? You can buy a copy of it via their website.

The Mercury News story was good--but the theory on which it was based (that Pat interrupted a burglary that almost certainly happened in the Jordan Hall room where he had a desk and around the time he disappeared) is very weak. In my investigation, I discovered that he was almost certainly being stalked by another man; I suspect he was just coming out of the closet and met Mr. Goodbar (probably while frequenting Mem Gym, which was a no-holds-barred pick-up site in the men's locker room in the 80s).
And he disappeared 20 years ago TODAY, not yesterday!

Imagine - University Police bungling an investigation. What a shocker. Perhaps the CPD could get in on this one. What a tragic story for this poor man's parents.