Part V: Crime Victim Sgt. Patrick Rust

This is my last planned post on the Rust case...

Case Summary

On March 16, 2007 at about 1 am, US Army Sergeant Patrick Rust, who had recently returned from a tour in Afghanistan, left a bar called Clueless in Watertown, NY. Rust had been drinking with friends at the establishment for several hours, was apparently intoxicated, and the bartender refused to serve him any more.

After leaving the bar, investigators reported that Rust's phone was used twice to call one of the friends he had talked with that night/morning. Police have been unable to find anyone who saw him alive again.

Rust did not show-up for work at Fort Drum that next morning and Rust's mother, his roommate, and his supervisor subsequently reported him missing.

Six months later, Rust's skeletal remains were found in a field six miles from the bar. An autopsy was inconclusive as to a cause of death.


So, we have a missing active-duty Army sergeant whose remains are found in a farmer's field several miles from where he was last seen months earlier leaving a local tavern.

Sgt. Rust's wallet and some money are located with the remains.

The night he went missing, he reportedly inquired about purchasing cocaine, and met friends at a tavern that is described by some as a "gay bar."

Oddly, a few hours before Rust was scheduled for work, Sgt. Rust's roommate notified Rust's supervisor that the man did not make it home the previous night and would not be at work that day.

Three law enforcement agencies conducted investigations, but the case is currently closed (referred to as "administratively closed") with no arrests being made--with no plans to reopen it unless new information becomes available.

Why is it closed?

I believe the case is not being pursued for three reasons:

1) The Coroner's Report Revealed Little Information

Was Sgt. Rust strangled?  Was he stabbed?  Was he poisoned?  With a system full of alcohol, did he die of hypothermia on that cold night?  Without specifics that can be used to prove that a crime was committed involving the sergeant's death, developing a criminal case is quite difficult.

2) The Case Was Not Thought to Be a Death Investigation 

Initially, it was believed by military officials that Sgt. Rust had gone AWOL.  As with missing persons cases when foul play is not expected, leads and information that may have been present on day one, are later gone or certainly much harder to find.

3) There is a Person of Interest, but He is Not Talking

In October of 2008, Detective Steven Cote of the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department confirmed in the media that police had been trying to talk with a soldier who had reportedly been with Sgt. Rust prior to his disappearance.  Evidently, the soldier provided military investigators an oral statement, but was soon after deployed to the Middle East.  When the person of interest returned to the US,  he refused to provide written statements about the case, was discharged from the military, and then invoked his right to an attorney.

Authorities decided to speak to the now ex-soldier's ex-wife, and she made some startling statements. 

In describing a previous altercation, she told authorities that her soldier-husband stated that she would end up like Rust unless she did as she was told.  She further stated that her ex-husband had a deep hatred for those he thought were homosexuals, and had also threaten to assault another gay friend of hers. 

In essence, she felt her ex-husband was certainly capable of violence against another person he accused of being homosexual. 


In sum, with the unknown cause of death, confusion as to the reason for the man's disappearance, and a person of interest who is refusing to talk with authorities, Sgt. Rust's case is difficult to resolve.

From the title of the series, it is obvious that I believe Sgt. Rust to be a crime victim.

In any event, my prayers are with his family, and for a resolution to this mysterious death.


More information on this case can be found at or my other posts on Sgt. Rust are here. The family's website and their collection of news items is an excellent resource.


ladyfi said...

It's always so sad when a young person disappears and turns up dead.

J. J. in Phila said...

I hope that you will reconsider and that there might be future posts on this case.

The physical evidence did reveal several things:

1. Sgt. Rust did have a fairly large amount of money in it. He had, however, potentially a lot more money in it.

2. There were no obvious sides of violence. His clothing was intact and showed no evidence of a physical attack. There were no bullet holes or stab wounds. Apparently, there was no signs of trauma to his remains, i.e. his skull wasn't smashed with a baseball bat.

3. The location strongly points away from Sgt Rust wandering off in a drunken stupor and freezing to death.

The last point item points strongly to Sgt Rust being a crime victim, if not a murder victim.

While I do not expect robbery, I'd be looking at what happened to the rest of the money.

Brian Miller said...

i hold out hope that somewhere someone knows something or there was something overlooked that will bring resolution...

Stephanie Faris said...

Hmmmm...Sounds like that "person of interest" is someone that really needs to be investigated.

Kristin said...

How said that his family might never see resolution.

Beth Zimmerman said...

Truly sad! But I'm sure that if, and when, his family searches Google to see if anyone remembers or cares, you, and your post, will be a blessing to them!

Anonymous said...

Go to Facebook Page someone by the name of rusttruth speaks about wanting to now speak p once that person returns to US. Slam Dunk you've done a great job. Thank you very much!!

BobKat said...

Now I have good reason to understand why he allegedly left the bar using the delivery door, and not the front entrance!

If he was strangled the hyoid bone in his throat would have been crushed. If he'd been punched, his nose would most likely have been broken.

As J.J. said, skull not smashed. But viewing the map on Sgt. Rust's website it is obvious to me he did not walk there on his own. So how did he get there and how did he die?

He was - my guess, held down and administered a poison of some kind, and may even have gotten the cocaine he wanted... only it wasn't what he expected.

My opinion - homicide!

Clarissa Draper said...

What a case! It's too bad that they don't know more. Let's hope they catch the man.

Slamdunk said...

Thanks for the comments all.

@ Anonymous: I appreciate the additional insight, and the information that you are referring to about the comment can be found here (for those interested is in on the wall).

@ JJ: Nice summary. Though I did not delve into the possibility that he did not die the morning he disappeared, military officials seemed convinved initially that he was AWOL--based (I am guessing) on 1) Comments from other soldiers; 2) Sightings after he vanished; and 3) His PayPal account being accessed twice after he went missing.

If he did not perish the night he went missing, there would be quite a few more opportunities to trace his movements after he went missing.

@ BobKat: I am not as concerned that a decomposed body did not show an obvious sign of death--it would still not deter me from the crime theory.

Also, though I included it, the leaving through the delivery door may not have meant anything--just a guy who had consumed too many drinks and was not wearing his glasses (as reported by his mom).

J. J. in Phila said...

One thing that might be considered is manslaughter.

Sgt. Rust, according to friends, wanted to purchase cocaine. His phone look suspiciously like a drug buy. He probably had enough money on him to purchase several grams (I looked it up on the Internet).

I'm wondering if he didn't overdose, or had a cocaine induced heart attack, died, and the people he was with panicked.

That there was money in his wallet, but potentially much less that he taken out earlier in the day, really screams him spending it on someone.

A very good series, Slamdunk!

Maxi said...

I have a feeling that this crime will remain an unsolved mystery.

How sad for his family.

BobKat said...

Someone (or himself) accessed his PayPal account? Twice??

I am not concerned about the lack of trauma either... and even people with bad vision go out the front door of a bar. He was afraid of someone who came into the bar, is my guess, and "slipped out" the backdoor. Perhaps we have a clue as to who that someone is?

Lastly, why is this beginning to sound like a repeat of the Brianna Maitland case? I suppose because in this case it makes more sense, than it did with Brianna Maitlands disappearance. Here we have reason to believe "drugs", cocaine, actually may have been involved. And yes, J.J., he could have died of a heart-attack, especially if what they gave him was pure cocaine (for those not familiar with the subject, most cocaine on the streets is "cut", the potency reduced because when "cut" with other powders, the supplier has more to sell. That's the biggest danger with cocaine and heroin, not knowing how pure it is).

However I'm not so quick to jump to that conclusion, but I do believe, where his body was found tells the story. He simply did not walk there on his own accord, unless of course he got lost, but I doubt that. He was driven there is my opinion.

CrimeWire said...

Some excellent points. We're still investigating and hope to have at least some answers by the end of summer.

Rolled Up Pretty and Cut Off Thoughts said...

That is horrible! Oh my gosh!

ZaSu Says said...

Please remember to listen to the Simon Barrett show on Blog Talk Radio on Sunday, August 14, at 4 p.m. Eastern. He’s going to profile Patrick’s case. The show URL is click here

Anonymous said...

Simon Barrett Sunday Afternoon Murder Club discusses Patrick Rust - Really interesting show with good input by various guests.

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