Details of Disappearance Ruland was last seen by his coworkers at Kaytee Products in Chilton, Wisconsin on October 24, 1995. At the time of his disappearance, he was divorced with two children and lived with a roommate in Ripon, Wisconsin but he was in the process of moving to Kiel, Wisconsin to live with a new roommate.
In the two weeks prior to his disappearance, Ruland got a new car and asked his parents, who lived in Florida, to mail him $2,500. They did so on October 16. He attended church on October 22. On November 2, he didn't pick up his paycheck, and on November 4 one of his siblings called the police and reported him missing. He has never been heard from again.
Over a week later, Ruland's white Dodge Aires station wagon was found abandoned in the parking lot of the Stretch Truck Stop in the 500 block of east Pioneer Road in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. The keys were in the ignition and all of Ruland's belongings were in the cargo area; he may have been in the process of driving it to his new home in Kiel. There was blood on one of the car tires, and cigars in the front of the vehicle; Ruland did not smoke.
Ruland's roommate in Ripon, Jerome Baier, cashed the $2,500 check Ruland's parents mailed him, and also used another check made out to Ruland, for $46.32, to pay the gas company on November 1.
Baier was charged with two counts of forgery and one count of uttering a forged check. In 1999, he took a plea agreement to resolve the check fraud case. Investigators searched Baier's pig farm in 1997, and also searched other places, but didn't find sufficient evidence to charge Baier in his roommate's disappearance.
In 2000, the message "James Ruland lies here" was found written on near the bathtub bathtub in the Ripon house that Ruland and Baier had once shared. Authorities investigated the writing, and Baier's sons admitted they'd written it there as a joke.
Ruland's case remains unsolved.
- Fond du Lac Sheriff's Department
Updated 6 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated March 4, 2021; picture added.