What Happened to Patrick Mullins? Theories Behind 'Unsolved Mysteries' Case

In Episode 7 of Unsolved Mysteries Volume 3, titled "Body in the Bay," the sudden death of Patrick Mullins is explored, as is the range of theories surrounding what happened to the man involved.

In February 2013, the body of Patrick Mullins, a local high school librarian, and experienced boater, was discovered floating in Tampa Bay.

In an unusual turn of events, Mullins's body was found tied to his own anchor, a detail of the case which has never been explained.

Newsweek has everything you need to know about the case of Patrick Mullins.

What Happened to Patrick Mullins?

Patrick Mullins Unsolved Mysteries
Patrick Lee Mullins in "Unsolved Mysteries." Netflix

At 3 p.m. on Sunday, January 27, 2013, Patrick Mullins, 52, ventured out on his boat on the Braden River near his home in Florida.

When he failed to return home that evening and could not be located by his family, his wife, Jill Mullins, contacted the Manatee County Sheriff's Office to report him missing.

Two days later, Patrick Mullins boat was found by search and rescue teams.

The ignition was on, the boat was out of gas and Pat Mullin's belongings were on the boat but he and the boat's anchor were nowhere to be seen.

Upon finding the boat, the authorities believed there was no foul play suspected as there was no blood discovered in the boat.

One week later, Patrick Mullins's body was discovered by a local fisherman in shallow water in Tampa Bay.

He had been tied to his anchor and had been shot in the head.

The medical examiner ruled Patrick Mullins's cause of death as "suicide" and detectives at the time pushed the narrative that Patrick Mullins had taken his own life.

However, Patrick Mullins's family and friends have cast doubt on the police's theory, believing Patrick Mullins was killed. Eventually, Patrick Mullins's death was officially ruled as "undetermined."

The Evidence

To begin with, there were no traces of blood belonging to Mullins found on his boat, so if a gun was fired, surely there would be blood spatter?

Patrick Mullins also did not own his own gun but was found with gunshot wounds to the head, suggesting somebody else may have pulled the trigger.

A Manatee County Sheriff's Office investigation and local investigative journalist Lee Williams spoke with local gun dealers about Patrick Mullins ever purchasing a gun or ammunition from them and both investigations failed to find any evidence, detailsScreenrant.

Additionally, a forensic audit of Mullins's bank accounts conducted by the Manatee County Sheriff's Office did not find any evidence of a gun purchase.

Patrick Mullins Unsolved Mysteries
Patrick Lee Mullins in "Unsolved Mysteries" Netflix

Additionally, Patrick Mullins's body showed very few signs of decomposition given the fact his body was supposedly in the water for over a week.

The lack of decomposition suggests Patrick Mullins may have been killed much closer to when his body was discovered.

Speaking in Unsolved Mysteries, forensic expert Dr. Lori Baker explained it would be normal for a dead body to be scavenged by sea-life in water "within just a few minutes."

She also stated that blood can be smelt by sharks from up to half a mile away and Tampa Bay is one of the most shark-dense bodies of water on earth.

Furthermore, if Patrick Mullins did take his own life, there was no suicide note left behind and in the weeks leading up to his death, there was no indication that he was a danger to himself.

He was looking also forward to his retirement, celebrating his 30th wedding anniversary, and a business venture with his brother on the horizon.

The Murder Theory

As heard in Unsolved Mysteries, one major theory believed by Patrick Mullins's family is the idea that the encountered criminal activity on the Braden River and was killed by a gang who were moving drugs to silence him.

Additionally, according to Unsolved.com, a forensic expert was brought in to examine the case files and found it difficult to rule out murder as the cause of Patrick Mullins's death.

Damon Crestwood

Damon Crestwood was a family friend of Patrick Mullins brother, and was interviewed by police on multiple occasions regarding Mullins's death.

Speaking in Unsolved Mysteries, the Mullins family recall Crestwood, who was never close with Patrick Mullins, acting differently ever since Patrick Mullins's death and noted him having mental breakdowns around the anniversary.

Speaking in Unsolved Mysteries, Mullins's family friend Dr. Mark Sylvester said: "He was just a likable, dependable, admirable guy. But after Pat's disappearance, his behavior quickly became markedly different."

Sylvester also alleged Crestwood would "break into tears and then uncontrollable sobbing" with Pat Mullins's wife Jill Mullins recalling Crestwood would "look out along the Manatee River and cry and sob for hours."

It was later uncovered Crestwood had been using crystal meth. Perhaps in a drug-fuelled state, Crestwood had killed his friend.

Other circumstantial factors also point to Crestwood's potential involvement. For example, the knot used to tie Patrick Mullins to his anchor was the same knot Crestwood was known to use. There was also a mark of red paint found on the side of Patrick Mullins's boat which had not been there before. An analysis of the paint was a match to Crestwood's boat.

Unfortunately, Crestwood died of a drug overdose in 2017, so whether he was involved or not, will never be known.

If you have any information relating to Patrick Mullins's death, you can submit a tip now at Unsolved.com/tips/.

Unsolved Mysteries Volumes 1, 2, and 3 are streaming on Netflix now.