Gold Star Club offers $10,000 reward in death of Palmetto teacher

Gold Star Club helps family seeking information about Pat Mullins' death

rdymond@bradenton.comOctober 3, 2013 

Jill Mullins holds a photo of her late husband, Pat, at their home in Bradenton.PAUL VIDELA/Bradenton Herald

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MANATEE -- The Gold Star Club of Manatee County Inc. has approved a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone involved in the death of Palmetto High School educator Patrick Mullins.

"Gold Star Club rewards have to be recommended by Manatee Sheriff Brad Steube, and we are very pleased he requested it," Jill Mullins, Patrick Mullins' widow, said Thursday.

The Gold Star reward brings total reward money for information leading to a conviction to $21,000, Mullins added. A fundraiser for Patrick Mullins' reward at King Family Ranch was attended by 800 people Saturday and raised $10,000.

Crimestoppers added a $1,000 reward, Mullins said.

Steube approached the Gold Star Club about posting a reward in the Mullins' case, he said Thursday.

"We were at a point in the investigation where it stalled," the sheriff said. "We have taken it to a point where there is not any more information coming in. This is typically how we use The Gold Star Club reward, when there is simply no more information."

Steube said it is hard to tell if the Gold Star Club reward will spur immediate response.

"That's a tough call," Steube said. "Sometimes we put a reward out and don't get a thing and other times we do. I will tell you this is a case not only the Mullinses, but the sheriff's office wants solved."

Steube said the Manatee County Sheriff's Office received two tips so far on the Mullins' case.

"We got a Crimestoppers tip two weeks ago and we received another tip yesterday," Steube said. "We're still working them."

The University of Florida reconstructed Patrick Mullins' skull in an attempt to learn exactly how he died.

The reconstruction confirmed the Manatee County Medical Examiner's autopsy finding Feb. 6, the day after

Mullins' badly decomposed body was found in the water near Emerson Point.

Mullins died from a shotgun blast to the head, said Manatee County Medical Examiner Dr. Russell Vega.

The manner of death -- suicide or homicide -- is still officially listed as unknown.

Mullins never returned home from a Jan. 27 motor-testing boat trip on the Braden River near his home in East Manatee. His boat, which investigators say revealed no evidence of foul play, was found a few days later.

His body was found Feb. 5 knotted in front to an anchor by heavy anchor rope.

The shotgun has not been found, authorities said. Currents moved the body a great distance, investigators say.

An extensive investigation by the Manatee County Sheriff's Office showed Mullins did not own a shotgun, his widow said. Detectives also found no recent purchases of ammunition.

No family or friends came forward to say they loaned Mullins a shotgun, said family friend Samantha Jackson.

Authorities also found no medical or financial issues or anything that might have led to a suicide, family members said.

Gold Star Club was formed in 1999 at the request of Sheriff Charles Wells. The group of concerned citizens came together to support Manatee County law enforcement agencies by providing large sums of reward money to assist in the arrest and conviction of criminals who commit serious crimes in Manatee County, according to the Gold Star Club website.

Although the rewards target those wanted for serious crimes against children, rewards are also offered for other crimes such as murder. The Gold Star Club operates in partnership with Crimestoppers of Manatee County, which provides a separate reward for information leading to the arrest of criminals.

Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7072 or through Twitter @RichardDymond.

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