by Mary Lowers
Saguache County resident Charles Moises Gonzales, 46, currently incarcerated in the Colorado Department of Corrections facility in Cañon City on charges unrelated to the murder of Michael Damien Rust, was served with a warrant charging that he was “involved with the disappearance and death of Mike Rust.” The Colorado Bureau of Investigations (CBI), the Saguache County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO), and the Twelfth Judicial District Attorney’s Office, according to the Valley Courier, “worked tirelessly over the past several months on the case, which led to the warrant.”
Rust, a pioneer of mountain biking in Colorado and resident of rural Saguache County, disappeared in 2009. Foul play was long suspected and in January remains were found buried near Rust’s home. State DNA testing proved the body to be that of Rust in early spring. Law enforcement SCSO and CBI had developed information as to the location of Rust’s remains since 2009.
Further information that came to light after the remains were unearthed led to the warrant issued for Gonzales. Saguache County Sheriff Dan Warwick told me that leads the SCSO had developed were confirmed when the remains of Mike Rust were unearthed. He also said that Gonzales “was a local guy with a criminal history.” Gonzales had been jailed in the past on charges including possession of a weapon and burglary. The Sheriff would neither confirm nor deny that there may be others involved in this murder. Gonzales is officially charged with: first degree murder with intent and deliberation, crime of violence with a deadly weapon, first degree burglary with intent to commit theft, theft of a gun, tampering with evidence, abuse of a corpse, and possession of a weapon by a previous offender.
The Mountain Mail obtained the Affidavit for Arrest issued by the Saguache County Court for Gonzales. This document gives details about the case against Gonzales prepared by CBI Agent Pat A. Crouch. The affidavit lays out a grim scenario of crime and coverup. A big break in the case came when Michael Gonzales, 20, son of Charles Moises Gonzales, contacted a Saguache County Deputy saying he believed his father was involved in Mike Rust’s disappearance. He went on record with this information in an interview with CBI Agents at the SCSO in October 2015.
Michael Gonzales’ suspicions were aroused when a hole he had dug with his father and brothers on some land his grandfather owned for “an underground club house” was filled up with trash and tires. A Search Waiver was obtained from Michael’s grandfather/Charles Moises Gonzales’ father, for law enforcement to excavate the site. The elder Gonzales was cooperative with the search. On January seventh and eighth during the course of digging human remains were discovered. DNA tests later in the year proved the body was indeed Mike Rust.
The affidavit included the statement from Charles Moises Gonzales, Sr. that when he and his wife went to visit his son in prison and told him about the impending excavation his son said, “They are gonna find it.” He then told his father the same tale he told CBI agents in an interview after the remains were discovered and identified, that Rust’s death was an “accident” during a struggle. In his CBI statement Gonzales claimed to have been cutting wood when Rust came after him on “a dirt bike” accusing him of “ripping him off.” Then he claimed a scuffle ensued and the .22 handgun Rust was carrying went off killing him. The twist here is Rust had told a friend that very .22 revolver had been stolen from him. Rust’s family said it was the only firearm missing from his home. But Gonzales claims he did not break into Rust’s home and the shooting was in self defense. He said he was so scared after the incident that he put Rust’s body in a hole on his father’s property.
We will report further as facts become available.