Hollywood actor Jessica Chastain has issued an extraordinary plea to fans to help track down a suspected double killer wanted over the torture and murder of a close family friend.

Chastain, a two-time Best Actress Oscar nominee known for her work in the The Help and Zero Dark Thirty, asked her followers to use social media to locate fugitive Kurt Andrew Collins, 61, in a Facebook post this morning.

Collins, a gold prospector and survivalist, is the prime suspect in the horrific murder of Michael Mahoney, who was a longtime friend of her father Michael Hastey, in July 2016.

Authorities have also linked Collins to the attempted murder of search and rescue volunteer Steve Wolf in August 2016 and the 2003 disappearance and suspected murder of Joseph Charles Murphy, who was known as Black Dog Joe.

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All three crimes took place in or near the town of Washington in Nevada County.

"I got an email from my Dad and it really broke my heart," Chastain's post said.

"I'm sharing this information in the hope that someone might know the whereabouts of Kurt Andrew Collins. He is wanted for murder.

"A friend's father had a cabin in a remote area of Nevada county. His wife and sister went to the cabin to check on him and found him dead. The cause of death turned out to be murder. It also turns out that he was tortured prior to his death.

"The Nevada county sheriff's office now has a person of interest that they are looking for. This is the reason my Dad has asked if you guys would help use social media to track down Kurt Andrew Collins."

Jessica Chastain at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 10, 2017. Photo / AP
Jessica Chastain at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 10, 2017. Photo / AP

Hello sweet ones! I got an email from my Dad and it really broke my heart. I'm sharing this information in the hope...

Posted by Jessica Chastain on Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Authorities have described Collins as approximately 180cm tall, 82kg with grey hair and blue eyes.

He has lived in the wilderness of the Yuba River near the town of Washington for about 20 years as a gold prospector and was regarded by locals as a "hermit," and had very little contact with the public, according to the Nevada County Sheriff's Office.

Michael Mahoney, 67, was found dead outside his summer cabin on July 18 last year.

Just weeks later, on August 9, search and rescue volunteer Steve Wolf was shot in the hip near a campsite while looking for a missing hiker along the Yuba River Trail Head. Police found physical evidence near the site which led them to Collins as a suspect.

The shooting of Mr Wolf, who survived the attack, took place "very close" to Mr Mahoney's cabin, police said.

In addition to naming Collins a "strong suspect" in the murder of Mr Mahoney and the attempted murder of Mr Wolf, investigators now believe the same man is responsible for the disappearance of Joseph Charles Murphy almost 14 years ago.

Mr Murphy, a fellow gold prospector known as Black Dog Joe, vanished on October 3, 2003, while on a gold-hunting trip with Collins, according to the Sacramento Bee.

Police have a warrant issued for his arrest on charges of attempted murder and inflicting great bodily injury during the commission of a felony.

Police have appealed for public help to locate Collins, who they believe may have left town to look for gold in a different location. He has not been seen in public since Mr Wolf's shooting.

Mr Mahoney's family has offered US$10,000 ($12,400) reward for information leading to the identification and capture of his killer.