Monday, June 7, 2010

The Mysterious Death of Patrick Rust

Army Sgt. Patrick Rust was assigned to the 10th Mountain Division headquartered at Fort Drum in Watertown, New York. In January 2007 he returned from deployment to Afghanistan. Following a 30 day leave he was back on post in February. The then 24-year-old Patrick was a local boy and was familiar with Watertown and the surrounding area. He didn’t have a driver’s license or vehicle.

On Wednesday, March 14, 2007, Patrick moved from the barracks on base to share an apartment with a fellow soldier at 156 Sterling Street, Apartment 4, in Watertown. At that time the two men had known each other for approximately 15 months. 

The following day Patrick rode back to the apartment in his roommate’s car after they were released from duty at around 5 pm. At approximately 5:30 the roommate heard Patrick engaged in a phone call with an old friend from Colorado who was visiting the area.

At around 6:30 the two left the apartment and drove to the Salmon Run Mall. While there Patrick purchased some games for his Gameboy PSP player in the Best Buy store. They then went to the food court and got something to eat at Wendy’s. After that Patrick withdrew cash from an ATM machine estimated by the roommate to be between $100 and $300.

At approximately 7:50 they left the mall and stopped at a tanning salon where the roommate wanted to get a tan. At that point Patrick said that he was going to walk back to the apartment, which was a relatively short distance away.

According to a timeline prepared by military investigators, another soldier saw Patrick walking and gave him a lift to the apartment at approximately 7:55. This individual told the investigators that he dropped Patrick off, but didn’t actually see him enter the apartment building. The roommate states that he arrived at the apartment around 8:30 and Patrick wasn’t there. He remained at the apartment and went to sleep between 10 and 11 pm.

The next reported sighting of Patrick takes place at around 9:30 when he was observed in a bar called Clueless located at 545 Arsenal Street. Clueless is known as a gay and lesbian bar; but straights are welcome as well. There is no indication that Patrick was gay; and according to all available information he had never been in the establishment before.

While at the bar Patrick met a classmate from his school days. This man was in the company of his roommate, another Fort Drum soldier. According to witness statements Patrick and his former classmate engaged in lengthy conversation about their school days. As time passed Patrick obtained his old acquaintance’s phone number so they could keep in contact and hook up again in the future. 

At approximately 1:00 am on March 16 the bartenders at Clueless reportedly refused to serve Patrick any more alcohol because he was intoxicated. One patron at the bar told investigators that Patrick had seemed “high” and had mentioned cocaine at one point. However, no cocaine was observed and there are no reports that Patrick was causing any trouble, only that he’d had too much to drink. When Patrick exited Clueless he left through the front door which was only used for deliveries. Regular patrons knew the back door off the parking lot was for entrance and egress. It is believed Patrick used that back door upon his arrival at the bar and during multiple smoke breaks during the evening. That is the last known time Patrick Rust was seen alive.
It was subsequently reported to military investigators that Patrick placed two calls from his cell phone to his former classmate’s phone at around 1:10 am. The first ended with Patrick leaving a voicemail that he had enjoyed their conversation and would catch up with him again sometime. The second was a hang up.

Patrick’s roommate told investigators that he awakened around that same time, checked Patrick’s room and found it empty. When asked why he woke up at 1 am, he said he always got up in the middle of the night to check his emails. He returned to bed, woke up again around 5 am and again found Patrick’s room empty.
At approximately 5:10 am the roommate sent a text message to his superior stating that Patrick hadn’t been home all night and would not be at the 7:30 formation. 

The sergeant whom the roommate texted later told investigators that he was surprised to receive such a message over two hours before the scheduled formation. He also said that Patrick had no history of being late for or missing formations.

Sometime between Friday, March 16 and Sunday the 18th, before Patrick’s family or the civilian police were told he was missing, the military cleared all of Patrick’s belongings from the apartment. The explanation provided by the military for clearing the apartment so quickly was that it was their procedure.

On Monday, March 19, Patrick’s mother Judy Rust, her ex-husband Rodney Rust, Patrick’s roommate and the sergeant went to the Watertown Police Department where Patrick was officially reported as missing. The Watertown police launched an investigation and the military continued their inquiry.

For the next six months neither the military nor the Watertown police made any progress in their investigations. And then on September 16, a farmer cutting hay in a field about five miles out of town found skeletal remains. The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department and the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology responded to the scene to handle the recovery.

Some clothing was found along with Patrick’s identification and ATM cards. DNA testing confirmed that the remains were those of Patrick Rust. A subsequent autopsy by the military conducted in Washington, D.C. was unable to determine the cause or manner of death. Due to the condition of the remains toxicology tests could not be performed. 

At this time there is no active investigation into Patrick’s death by either civilian or military law enforcement.

The Rust family needs your help in finding out what happened to their son on March 16, 2007. If you have any information regarding this case please email me at

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1 comment:

  1. One particular red flag for me is the fact that he was found when the corn field was being harvested in September. Around here, the corn doesn't get planted until May or June, depending on how bad the winter has been. So, why wasn't Patrick's body found during the planting? Were his remains always in that spot, or were they moved there after the crop was planted?

    Also - and while this is a very remote possibility - could there be any connection between this case and the case of Joe Grozelle, who went missing under strange circumstances from the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston? Kingston is only about 45 minutes from Watertown.