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Missing cafe owner found — murdered and charred in a Pennsylvania field

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Josh Rubin, the Ditmas Park cafe owner whose disappearance on Halloween night unleashed a two-month, citywide search, was actually fatally shot, burned, and dumped off the side of a rural Pennsylvania road mere hours after he left his apartment, authorities said on Wednesday.

The charred corpse had been found by Keystone State authorities on Nov. 1, less than 12 hours after Rubin went missing, but it was not positively ID’d until a DNA match was made this week, the Lehigh Valley Morning Call reported.

Cops could not quickly identify Rubin — even though the disappearance of the owner of Whisk was a major news story that fueled a massive volunteer search effort — because his fingerprints had been too badly burned in the fire, which was presumably set to destroy other evidence.

But a spokesman for the South Whitehall Police Department did have a theory about the crime.

“The speculation is that the homicide occurred somewhere else and the body was dumped here,” he said.

But a spokesman for the Lehigh County coroner said that Rubin’s death came from the gunshot wound, not the fire.

The NYPD was caught off guard by the news of the identification of Rubin, whose family had hired a private detective on Nov. 4 and offered a $5,000 reward on Nov. 19.

“His body was found in Pennsylvania, that’s where the investigation is right now,” said an NYPD spokesman.

Rubin’s body was found in a field roughly two hours from the city. Cops do not believe that he drove to the region himself, given that his car was at his family’s home in Rhode Island at the time.

Rubin had been under mental and financial pressure when he disappeared after walking out of his apartment on Oct. 31 — the day before the first rent check on his struggling Newkirk Avenue cafe was due.

Rubin’s family did not respond to calls for comment and the Find Josh Rubin web page appears to have been disabled.

No information is currently available around a funeral or memorial for the well-liked cafe owner.

Reach reporter Eli Rosenberg at erosenberg@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-2531. And follow him at twitter.com/from_where_isit.

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Reader Feedback

S from PPW says:
Tragic and sad. My heart goes out to his family and friends.
Dec. 22, 2011, 10:03 am
anonymous from Brooklyn says:


No, the investigation should
start where he disappeared, here inBrooklyn.
Dec. 22, 2011, 11:36 am
rabbit from ditmas park says:
sad. hope his family will be okay.
Dec. 22, 2011, 2:42 pm
Dennis sinneD from Williamsburg says:
I'm not familiar with the nuances of police work but I've got to admit that anonymous from Bklyn sounds right. Why are the police immediately deferring to PA cops without considering an integrated effort?
Dec. 22, 2011, 3:48 pm
JD from Williamsburg says:
The cops do not give a ——. It takes a whole world of —— with lots of press to get them to focus on something. If they can pass it off to someone else, they will.
Dec. 22, 2011, 4:52 pm
JD from Williamsburg says:
Ooooo, my curse words were edited. Let me rephrase:

The cops do not give a darn. It takes a whole world of poop with lots of press to get them to focus on something. If they can pass it off to someone else, they will.
Dec. 22, 2011, 4:58 pm
anywho says:
murder investigations start where the body is found. local jurisdiction takes precedence. the key is to determine where the murder took place and backtrack from there.
Dec. 22, 2011, 9:22 pm
Dennis sinneD from Williamsburg says:
Murder investigations start where the body is found in the absence of information or material concerning the crime. That is not so here. Yes, Mr. Rubin was found in Pennsylvania, but he is missing from New York. At the very least there should be some integration involving any work on that missing persons case with the murder investigation. Furthermore, there are also several leads here concerning his business and his residency that will go ignored in the absence of an integrated investigation. Now, you're confusing precedence of jurisdiction with lack of jurisdiction: I'm not saying the PA authorities lack precedent investigative authority here. I'm saying that NYPD currently has a role which is indeed subordinate to the PA authorities until circumstances figure otherwise [as in if later developments indicate Rubin was murdered in NYC and taken to PA]. Yes, PA has precedence, but that doesn't excuse NYPD absence on this.
Dec. 23, 2011, 3:04 pm
Saturday says:
Dude was a drug dealer - according to the NY Post. I believe it. Like, where did dude get all this money from or was it a front? Makes me wonder about all the other "new" and improved businesses popping up all over Brooklyn these days.
Dec. 24, 2011, 10:57 pm

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