All Of The Theories Surrounding Patrick Mullins' Death

Years after Patrick Mullins' death, his family still has no answers about why or how it happened. Mullins was an experienced boater and a librarian nearing retirement when he died in 2013 at 52 years old. On January 27 of that year at about 3:00 p.m., Patrick, or Pat, took his newly-refurbished Stumpnocker boat out on Braden River in Florida. His wife, Jill, returned home later that day after visiting her sister and didn't find her husband home (via Decider). His boat was nowhere to be found, and he didn't have his cellphone with him, which was typical.

After several hours, he still hasn't returned and Jill contacted his son and brother-in-law to let them know Pat was missing. Authorities were also contacted, and a search operation ensued. It wasn't until a couple of days later that the Stumpnocker was discovered floating on Tampa Bay. The boat was out of gas, and the ignition was on. According to Newsweek, nothing was missing from the boat except for the anchor. Pat's belongings were still there, but there was no sign of the man. There was nothing that hinted foul play, but red paint marks — long smudges on the side of the boat — were found, which the family noted were not present before.

The discovery of his body

It was nine days after Patrick Mullins disappeared that a fisherman found his body floating in shallow water near the Tampa Bay opening, which was several miles away from where his Stumpnocker was found. According to Tudum, his body was bound with rope that was attached to an anchor. An autopsy revealed that Pat had a shotgun wound on the right side of his head. Furthermore, it was noted that his body showed no signs of predator activity and only little decomposition.

As reported by the Hearld-Tribune, Pat's cause of death was determined to be a shotgun to the head. However, the number of shots couldn't be conclusively determined, as there were several traumatic impacts found on the skull. At that time, the manner of death was ruled a suicide, and detectives told the Mullins family their findings. Pat's family and close friends found it difficult to believe that he had taken his own life. Later on, his manner of death was changed from suicide to "undetermined."

The suicide theory

Early on in the investigation, detectives were adamant that Patrick Mullins took his own life. Background investigation was done, and there was no information that hinted he could have been suicidal. Per the Herald-Tribune, he had no drug or alcohol problems, financial issues, nor did he live a high-risk lifestyle. Close friends and family said that Pat was planning for the future, too. His wife, Jill, said Pat didn't own firearms, and stores in the area were checked to see whether he had purchased one shortly before his death, and no evidence was found that he did.

Another point that goes against the suicide theory is that blood wasn't found on Pat's boat. Investigators conducted a luminol test and determined that there were absolutely no traces of blood. As Tudum pointed out, it would have been impossible for him to shoot himself without getting even a drop of blood on the boat. Netflix's "Unsolved Mysteries" also showed that it would have been difficult for Pat to shoot himself while he was bound in ropes the way his body was when it was discovered.

The murder theory

According to Patrick Mullins' family, he was a kind and helpful man who was beloved by the students where he worked as a librarian. It wasn't uncommon for him to offer help to anyone in need, regardless of whether he knew them or not. In the "Unsolved Mysteries" episode, his son said that it was possible that his father ran into someone who needed help while boating and foul play occurred. His Stumpnocker was left with the ignition on and without gas. His son said that Pat typically left the engine on when he made short stops on the water.

Braden River (pictured), where Pat went boating, was a common location for recreational boaters, but it was also where criminal activity sometimes occurred. Per Newsweek, one of the theories is that Pat saw a gang engaging in illegal activity while he was boating, which resulted in him being killed. The way he was discovered and his autopsy results couldn't rule out the possibility that he was murdered, but suicide couldn't be ruled out as well.

Who was Damon Crestwood?

In the "Unsolved Mysteries" episode, the Mullins family mentioned a man named Damon Crestwood. The Mullins knew Crestwood through Pat's brother, Gray Mullins, who had been friends with him since the '90s. According to Pat's family and close friends, Crestwood seemed devastated and uncontrollably cried and broke down after Pat's death. However, they thought it was unusual, as he and Pat didn't have a very close relationship to warrant that type of reaction; they were described as being more of acquaintances than friends. Crestwood reportedly broke down every year during the anniversary of Pat's death as well, which led to the Mullins family's suspicions.

Furthermore, as reported by Radio Times, the family noticed something glaring during Memorial Day in 2013. At one point, Crestwood tied a rope on himself, and the way he did it was the same way Pat's body was bound. Crestwood also owned a boat with red paint, which was similar in shade to the paint found on Pat's Stumpnocker. His boat, per Screenrant, was docked near the location where Pat's body was found. These pieces of circumstantial evidence made the family question whether Crestwood had something to do with Pat's death, or at least had information about what happened to him.

Patrick Mullins' death remains a mystery

Authorities asked permission to get a paint sample from Damon Crestwood's boat, but he denied, and they couldn't get a warrant because of lack of evidence against him. Crestwood died of an overdose in 2017, and his daughter then gave permission for a paint sample to be taken from her father's boat. As reported by Screenrant, the paint matched the smudges on Patrick Mullins' boat. However, authorities told the family that it wasn't significant information, as the paint was common, and they couldn't conclusively say that it was Crestwood's boat that left the mark on Pat's Stumpnocker.

The Mullins family is still looking for answers regarding Pat's unsolved death. In an interview with ABC 7, Jill said, "I've been told by many people to let it go . . . But nobody should get away with murder." There is a $20,000 reward for anyone with information about the case that would lead to an arrest. Jill remains hopeful that someone with crucial information will come forward, so that she and her sons can get the answers that they have been looking for.