MOSS POINT, MS (WLOX) - A Jackson County man believed missing since March has been found safe. But where he's been for the last five months has those in law enforcement shaking their heads.
Just hours after sheriff's investigators announced Randy Collins was missing and two relatives were under arrest on neglect charges, deputies discovered Collins wasn't missing at all. He'd been in the Jackson County jail the entire time.
Randy Collins apparently didn't mind living with inmates at the Jackson County Adult Detention Center for the last five months. The 37-year-old, considered a vulnerable adult in need of special care, had been living with his brother and the brother's girlfriend in Moss Point. That's until March 6, when he left home and later ended up in the back of a patrol car charged with public drunkenness.
"When he was booked in March, he gave the name of Ronald Collins, not his real name," Sheriff Mike Byrd said.
Unfortunately for Randy, Ronald Collins was wanted by police for felony shoplifting and burglary. Sheriff Mike Byrd said investigators had no way of knowing the man they were holding in jail wasn't a wanted suspect, because he didn't have an ID.
"So we have been taking care of him and didn't realize it."
The relatives Randy Collins lived with did contact the Sheriff's Department when he disappeared back in March, but they never filed an official missing person report. Byrd said it was not until out of town family filed the report Monday that they began the search.
"We got a picture of him, and one of the officers recognized his picture and said, 'I think this guy is in jail.'"
Byrd said there he was in jail and seemingly just fine.
"You can look two ways. You can look at it as this is good thing. We did find this guy, because he was a special needs person," Byrd said. "You can look at it as, say I wish he wouldn't have been so intoxicated when we brought him in. He would have gave his right name, and all this would have been avoided."
Sheriff Byrd said Randy Collins has now been released from jail and family members from North Mississippi are caring for him.
As for Ronald Collins, deputies are still looking from him.
Collins' brother Alfred and his girlfriend Mattie Hall remain jailed on neglect charges. Sheriff Byrd said the couple was also caring for another vulnerable adult who has been released to family members. The home where they lived has been condemned.