Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Disappearance of Josh Rubin

Smoldering in an Apple Orchard

Sketch released by the Lehigh <br /> Valley District Attorney's office.
Sketch released by the Lehigh
Valley District Attorney's office.

On November 1, 2011, workers across the Northeast were cleaning up after a freak snowstorm. That morning a South Whitehall Township road crew cleared fallen trees and branches from the rural roads near Allentown in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania. The crew was on Applewood Drive, a quiet road running through a 70-acre apple orchard, when they spotted smoke. At first they figured it was another downed powerline.

The smoke came from a burning human body.

Lehigh County Coroner Scott Grim would rule that the victim had died of a single gunshot wound to the chest, then been set on fire. The man had been burned so badly that his fingerprints were gone, making identification difficult.

Cops described the unidentified victim as an 18-to-30-year-old white man, 6'1 to 6'3, 160-170 pounds, wearing glasses, a plaid shirt, and checked socks. A police sketch released in November didn't yield any leads.

But on December 20, 2011 South Whitehall authorities finally checked the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System and discovered a DNA and dental match. The body left smoldering at the orchard's edge was Josh Rubin.

So Rubin had turned up dead 100 miles away, about 12 hours after he'd last been seen in Brooklyn. It just took 50 days to figure that out.

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