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Forensic students search for Michelle Rust, been missing since 2002

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Posted at 8:08 AM, May 04, 2023

BALTIMORE COUNTY — For decades, police thought Michelle Rust left her home in Arbutus to pick up items for her three-year-old son’s birthday party and never returned.

“As time went on, nobody heard from her,” said Cpl. Donna Carter of the Baltimore County Police Missing Persons Unit, “There was no activity on her bank accounts. No checks written. She was a dedicated mother, a dedicated daughter to her family. She wouldn’t have just disappeared so it’s pretty evident she was the victim of foul play.”

Detectives say after extensive interviews over the years, they have not found anyone who actually saw Rust leave her home in Arbutus, nor did they find anyone who saw her behind the wheel of her green Dodge Caravan.

In an interview with WMAR-2 News last year, Rust’s mother recalled learning later that day that the van had been found a short distance from her daughter’s house.

“We canceled the party. We knew she was missing, and everybody was just frantically looking for her,” Gwen Lins told us, “And his father, everybody was looking, his family and our family, and his father ended up being the one that found the van.”

Michelle and her husband lived next door to her in-laws, and those two homes are where a team of forensic students from Towson University are now using ground-penetrating radar searching for disturbed soil beneath the surface of their yards.

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It’s the same technology that the same group has used at two dozen other sites, including Ellsworth Cemetery just outside of Westminster, where it turned up more than 200 forgotten graves.

And the search for Michelle Rust may not end here.

“We will be searching further locations in Baltimore County and Baltimore City relating to her disappearance,” said Carter, “Right now, we’re not going to get into what those locations are just pending the search and any evidence, that may be out there."