Those of you that the case of the disappearance of Ray Gricar on-line in general, or Sporadic Comments on Ray Gricar in specific have heard the name Slamdunk, or have read his blog Slamdunks: http://theslamdunktrove.blogspot.com/ While that blog is not specifically about the Gricar case, he did a fifteen part series on it (with seven other blogs not part of the series), actually starting a few weeks before this one started. Slamdunk writes about other things, including other missing persons cases, and, as a former police officer (with a master’s in criminology), policing in general, travel, and family life. One of the cases he recently wrote was not a missing person case. The missing person is no longer missing. He is dead, but there the mystery begins.
The dead man’s name was Sergeant Patrick S. Rust, 25, an active duty soldier with the 10th Mountain Division, stationed at Fort Drum. He had survived 18 months in Iraq and just under a year in Afghanistan, receiving the Army Commendation Medal for both along with the Combat Action Badge for the latter1. He rotated back to Fort Drum, near Watertown, NY, within 50 miles of where he grew up. On 3/14/07, he moved into an off base apartment in Watertown, with a roommate.
On the evening of 3/15/07, Sgt. Rust was contacted by an old friend from Colorado. He met them that night at a local bar named along with the roomate, ironically or ominously, “Clueless.” Rust, coincidentally, ran into another old friend from high school. Rust was very intoxicated, though reports differ about the cause. The bartender though he was drinking heavily while people he was with thought he was on drugs; according to them, Sgt. Rust asked about purchasing cocaine2. He left, not using the main door. Soon after, at 1:10 AM, he called the old high school friend and left a voice mail about meeting sometime to catch up on what was happening to them after high school; a second call to the friend’s voice mail, was a hang up. That voicemail were the last reported words of Sgt. Rust.
Sgt. Rust did not return home that night; the next morning, the roommate, who was supposed to be riding to Fort Drum with Rust, called the base and stated that Rust wouldn’t be in that day. The Army listed him as Absent Without Leave. Six months later, Sgt. Rust’s skeletal remains were found in a field.
Never miss a local story.
His military ID, ATM card, watch and wallet, with $80 in it, was found. He was fully clothed, except for a boot; the boot was also in the field. He was not wearing a hat or gloves (and there was no evidence that had at the time of his disappearance). The location where his body was found was in a different direction from both Fort Drum and his apartment.
Because Sgt. Rust was in the military, the Army did the autopsy and investigated the case. His clothing was intact and showed no signs of him being shot or stabbed. There appeared to be no signs of violence; the medical examiner could not determine the cause of death. They could determine. From plants underneath the body and insect activity, that he died around the date he disappeared.3
There were a number of possibilities, scenarios, that those of us who chatter on “Slam Dunks” talk about when discussing the Rust case. So where did all of us get this information? From a website here: http://www.patrickrust.com/home Where did the website get all of this information? From the Army investigators.
I generally think of the military as keeping secrets, and understand the reasons why. Likewise, I understand the need for not disclosing all the information in an investigation, so I’m surprised what has been revealed. The timeline created by the investigators (with redactions for privacy), is on the website. They released, to the press, redacted interviews with witnesses and even with a “person of interest.” They released at least summaries of Sgt. Rust’s voicemail. All the information about the Rust case is on that website, and more. Local police, along with a private investigator working for the family, has even sat down for a half hour formal interview with the local PBS station. Their candor was remarkable!
There are two reasons for this. First of all the Army is covered by the federal Freedom of Information Act, which does not cover state or local governments. Second, the investigation in the Rust is considered “administratively closed.” That means that they will only open it some new information comes it. Does that description sound familiar?
I’m writing this blog to contrast what has been released in the Rust case, and what has been released in the Gricar case. The difference is night and day. The super-secret US Army releases this level of detail, and the community law enforcement agencies, the Bellefonte Police Department, and the Centre County District sit on things much longer, and release much less. It makes me wonder.
In my next blog, I am planning to look at some things that should be released in the Gricar case. I’m wondering why they have not been; I hope you are wondering as well.
We know the fate of Sergeant Patrick S. Rust, at least. He is interred at Arlington National Cemetery.
Slamdunk’s specific section on the Rust Case is here: http://theslamdunktrove.blogspot.com/search/label/Sgt.%20Patrick%20Rust
1 The Combat Action Badge was not established until 2005 and requires the soldier to be actually engaged with an enemy (who is trying to kill the soldier). The Army Commendation Medal can be given for heroism, but is usually given for a soldier not merely doing his duty, but doing it well. If Sgt. Rust was, after only five years, not doing well, a screw up, it hugely unlikely he would have won it twice.
2 Unfortunately fellow soldiers indicated that Sgt. Rust had a recent history of using drug use, at least while at Fort Drum. I would, however, ask the reader to remember that he had spent 2 ½ of the last five years in combat, with the associated stress.
3 Two witness did report seeing him in the area after this date, but neither had prolonged contact nor was corroborated by another witness. I would have ranked either sighting as unlikely using the criteria I’ve been using in the Gricar case.
Centre Daily Times Ray Gricar Section: http://www.centredaily.com/138/
Link to the Main Index for Sporadic Comments on Ray Gricar: http://www.centredaily.com/2011/03/21/2597340/main-index-32011.html
E-mail J. J. in Phila at firstname.lastname@example.org