Thomas Lee Duesterhaus

Duesterhaus, circa 2011

  • Missing Since 06/18/2011
  • Missing From Virginia Beach, Virginia
  • Classification Endangered Missing
  • Date of Birth 07/01/1973 (45)
  • Age 37 years old
  • Height and Weight 6'3, 190 pounds
  • Medical Conditions Duesterhaus was apparently depressed over work problems at the time of his disappearance.
  • Distinguishing Characteristics Caucasian male. Blond hair, green eyes. Duesterhaus had a beard at the time of his disappearance. He wears eyeglasses, but he probably doesn't have his glasses with him. His nickname is Tom.

Details of Disappearance

Duesterhaus was a teacher of English and creative writing at Bishop Denis J. O'Connell High School, a private Catholic high school in Arlington, Virginia, at the time of his disappearance. He'd taught there since 1999.

Shortly before he vanished, he learned his teaching contract would not be renewed for the next year. The reason for Duesterhaus's termination has not been publicly released.

He left work that afternoon and went to his home in the 1600 block of Carlin Lane in McLean, Virginia. He lived in a religious communal setting with other Catholic men called the Youth Apostles. He left his residence, distraught, later that day and never returned.

Duesterhaus then traveled to Virginia Beach, Virginia. He was a lay minister with the Youth Apostles as well as a teacher, and was scheduled to begin a four-day religious retreat with twenty others in Virginia Beach on June 20. An eyewitness reported seeing him swimming in the ocean on June 18, and this was the last time anyone saw him.

Twelve hours later, his travel bag was found abandoned on the beach. Some of his belongings were inside the bag, but Duesterhaus's keys, his credit cards and his car, a blue 1999 Buick LeSabre with the Virginia license plate number XMT-8126, were all missing.

The rest of the group canceled the retreat after Duesterhaus didn't show up for it.

In late July, nearly six weeks after Duesterhaus's disappearance, his car was found in a commercial parking garage near the Rosslyn Metro station. Investigators determined it had been there since June 17 and Duesterhaus had parked it there himself. The car was not actually his own; it belonged to the Youth Apostles.

Duesterhaus is the sixth of eight children in his family and has never been married. He has been a deeply religious Catholic throughout his life and attended Mass daily.

He graduated Bishop O'Connell High School in 1991, then got a degree in English education from the College of William and Mary in 1995. In 2008, he got a master's degree in English from George Mason University, and in 2010, he self-published a novel titled The Loyal Treatment.

Duesterhaus had taken lifetime vows of chastity, obedience and poverty, and he gave away most of the money he earned from teaching. His father thinks he may have become so upset about being terminated from his job that he decided to walk away from his life.

Authorities belive Duesterhaus may still be in the Virginia Beach area. He frequented parks and shelters at the time of his disappearance, ministering to homeless youth. Since he went missing, his cellular phone and credit cards haven't been used and and there have been no reliable sightings.

Because he was last seen swimming, it's possible that he drowned, but investigators stated in that case his body should have washed ashore quickly.

Although Duesterhaus apparently left of his own accord, his family, friends and former students, as well as the police, are concerned for his welfare and would like to verify his well-being. His case remains unsolved.

Updated 2 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated August 26, 2016; middle name and picture added.