Details of Disappearance
Michelle was last seen at her home on Clark Boulevard in Halethorpe, Maryland at 9:30 a.m. on July 20, 2002. She was going to drive her dark green 1998 Dodge Caravan to buy some items for her three-year-old son's birthday party at local stores.
Michelle never returned home. Her car was found abandoned at 11:00 a.m. that same day, parked in front of a row of houses on Zion Avenue near the corner of Clyde Avenue and an entrance to Hillcrest Park, in the nearby residential community of Lansdowne.
The entry key was broken off in the driver's door keyhole, and the rest of the keychain was missing. There was no sign of Michelle at the scene. A photograph of her vehicle is posted with this case summary.
Authorities initially thought Michelle had disappeared while shopping for the party, but now they think she may have never voluntarily left her house that day. Her parents think she is dead and believe she was abducted before reaching the end of the street, and possibly before leaving her residence.
Her husband, Dwight "D. J." Rust, says he saw her car rounding a bend in the street the day she disappeared, but no one saw Michelle leave and even Dwight did not actually see his wife inside her car.
Michelle took none of her personal belongings when she vanished, and there has been no activity on her bank accounts since her disappearance. Her credit cards disappeared with her, but have not been used since she vanished. She was missed about an hour after she was last seen, when Dwight became concerned because she had not returned from the store and no one reported having seen her since she left.
Michelle had purple polish on her nails at the time of her disappearance, and may have been carrying a black backpack containing her insulin kit. She is a graduate of Lansdowne High School and has always lived in the Halethorpe area.
She had worked at a children's day-care facility before becoming a stay-at-home mother. Her family says it is extremely uncharacteristic of her to leave without warning. Authorities have not ruled Dwight out as a suspect, but they have not ruled anyone else out either, except Michelle's parents.
Dwight was the last person to see his wife before she vanished. He had reportedly had several extramarital affairs and Michelle was afraid that one of his girlfriends might hurt her. Dwight, who began dating Michelle when she was a freshman in high school and married her in 1997, maintains his innocence in his wife's disappearance and states he does not believe she left of her own free will. He filed for divorce from Michelle in 2007 and sought custody of their son.
Michelle remains missing and her case is unsolved. Her disappearance is being investigated as a kidnapping by the FBI and foul play is suspected. Some agencies state Michelle disappeared from Baltimore, Maryland.