FBI snubbed in Rubin murder investigation

Photos show men using Josh Rubin’s credit cards after his murder
Courtesy of the Lehigh County District Attorney

The investigation into Josh Rubin’s grisly murder spans across two states and multiple police jurisdictions, but a small 36-member police force in Pennsylvania is handling the case largely on its own — and has snubbed critical FBI assistance that could help them capture the beloved cafe owner’s killer.

The federal law enforcement agency asked to join the investigation into Rubin’s disappearance and murder, but detectives from the S. Whitehall Township have yet to take the feds up on its offer, an FBI spokeswoman confirmed last week.

But the FBI would be a boon to the case: it has many resources the S. Whitehall Township doesn’t, and its authority isn’t limited by state lines, so it can investigate in all the jurisdictions the case has snaked through: Kensington, where Rubin disappeared on Oct. 31, S. Whitehall Township, where he was found shot and burned the next morning, and Orange County, New York, where police say two men used the cafe owner’s credit cards less than 12 hours after Rubin’s body was found on the side of a country road.

The NYPD would not say if it was involved in a cross-state investigation — but the authorities in Pennsylvania said the NYPD was assisting them.

“The homicide task force here is working with the NYPD,” said Debbie Garlicki, a spokeswoman from the Lehigh County District Attorney’s office. “They’ve been very cooperative.”

Yet the collaboration has yet to produce substantial results: investigators recently released photos of the two men who used Rubin’s credit cards, but it was largely a plea for more information.

Experts say determining where the homicide occurred is integral to the investigation.

“Once you figured out where the guy was murdered, then a whole lot of options open up,” said Dennis Kenney, a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “But it could be that somebody was smart enough to realize that by spreading it around multiple jurisdictions nobody was going to pick up on it.”

That appeared to be the case for Rubin’s killer: investigators didn’t realize that the dead man in Pennsylvania was the missing cafe owner until two months after Rubin disappeared.

Reach reporter Eli Rosenberg at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-2531. And follow him at twitter.com/emrosenberg.

A small 36-member police force in Pennsylvania is spearheading the investigation into Josh Rubin's murder.
File photo By Dan MacLeod