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

Ditmas Park asks: ‘Where is Josh Rubin’?
Rubin in 2011 before opening his Ditmas Park coffee shop.
File photo By Dan MacLeod

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 [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-2531. And follow him at twitter.com/from_where_isit.