(This story originally appeared in the Bradenton Herald)
MANATEE – As Jill Mullins sat at her dining room table Tuesday, she spoke of the day she last saw her husband alive. It was exactly two years ago when Pat Mullins, a 52-year-old Palmetto High School media specialist, disappeared. He was found shot to death over a week later Feb. 6, 2013.
Though time has passed, the mysterious circumstances surrounding his death haunt Mullins.
The soft-spoken widow, who works as a media specialist and English for Speakers of Other Languages teacher at Lakewood Ranch High School, shared details of the horrific night of Jan. 27 when her husband never returned from testing a boat motor on the Braden River, which runs behind her home.
“To me, I know what happened and I remember the helicopters going overhead all night. It was really frightening and nobody else knows that,” the 55-year-old said. “And nobody else. … I just don’t feel like it’s interrupting other peoples’ lives and it really was important in the community at that time and now I feel like Pat’s kind of forgotten.”
After a moment, she took that back.
She was at Emerson Point last weekend, distributing fliers with information on her husband’s death. And Mullins met people who knew her
late husband from being in the National Guard with him. There was a young man who had been a fourth-grade student of his during his time at William H. Bashaw Elementary School. There were parents — many who knew him.
“They just were under the assumption that the case was solved,” Mullins said.
Dave Bristow, spokesman for the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office, said the Mullins case is inactive.
“But obviously, if in fact we got any new information, we would act accordingly,” he said.
Mullins is not giving up. On Saturday and Sunday, she hopes to uncover new information by distributing more fliers at Emerson Point, near where her husband’s badly decomposed body was found in the water.
Beside her on the dining table was one of the fliers. On the front is a colored photo of Pat dressed in a plaid button-down shirt, with a book in his hands.
“Two Years Ago Pat Mullins was discovered 1/2 mile off Emerson Pt, weighted down by anchor, shotgun blast to head,” the flier reads. Under it is “Up to $20,000 Reward” in yellow highlighter. The back of the flier lists unanswered questions: “Who placed the shotgun to Pat’s head and pulled the trigger? Who wrapped Pat’s dead body in the anchor line hoping to forever hide his disappearance?”
Mullins said she knows her husband didn’t commit suicide. Pat was looking forward to retiring, she said. Before his death, he had also been researching where they had spent their honeymoon because he wanted to take her back there for their 30th wedding anniversary in June 2013.
After both their sons had left home, Mullins said she and her husband rediscovered one another. She loved him, and he loved her.
“I think someday there’s going to be a huge turnaround when we find out who did do this to Pat,” she said, “and how it was not discovered until later.”