Bernard Wright Rusness Jr.

Bernard, circa 1976

  • Missing Since 04/03/1976
  • Missing From Wolf Lake, Minnesota
  • Classification Endangered Missing
  • Sex Male
  • Race White
  • Date of Birth 04/22/1926 (97)
  • Age 49 years old
  • Height and Weight 5'10 - 5'11, 165 pounds
  • Clothing/Jewelry Description A gold watch on his left wrist and a gold or silver ring with a square emerald on his left index finger.
  • Associated Vehicle(s) Four-wheel-drive Ford pickup truck (accounted for)
  • Distinguishing Characteristics Caucasian male. Brown hair, hazel eyes. Bernard has a noticeable injury to his left eye, which resembles a lazy eye. He has a receding hairline and wears wire-rimmed eyeglasses. Bernard has pellet scars in his groin area from a hunting accident. His nickname is Russ.

Details of Disappearance

Bernard and his common-law wife, Peggy Parmenter, disappeared from their Wolf Lake, Minnesota farm on April 3, 1976. They went to the grocery store together, and later, at 4:00 p.m., Bernard was seen leveling his driveway.

Between 11:30 p.m. and midnight, neighbors noticed the house was on fire. It burned to the ground; nothing could be saved. The body of Bernard and Peggy's eight-year-old son, Brian, was found in his bedroom, and authorities also discovered the remains of two family dogs in the ashes, but Bernard and Peggy were missing and have never been heard from again. The fire marshal concluded they had survived the blaze.

All the family vehicles were left in the driveway with the keys in the ignitions of each one. The hood was up on their four-wheel-drive Ford pickup truck, as Bernard was installing a sound system. The couple also left about $1,000 in their bank accounts and never picked up their last paychecks from work.

The family's house had originally belonged to Peggy's mother. Peggy moved there in 1974 to care for her mother, who was sick. Bernard visited on weekends. Less than a year later, Peggy's mother died, and Bernard moved into the home with Peggy. At the time of their disappearances, the couple had recently finished remodeling the house.

Although the family lived in a very small town, they didn't socialize often and their neighbors didn't know much about them. Contrary to what they told people, they were not legally married; Bernard had never divorced his first wife, who lived in Fargo, North Dakota. Peggy's former husband also lived in North Dakota. Brian's babysitter described Peggy as a very protective mother.

Bernard and Peggy's disappearances remain unsolved. Foul play is suspected in their disappearances.

Investigating Agency

  • Becker County Sheriff's Department 218-847-2661

Updated 4 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated August 4, 2018; name and details of disappearance updated.