Charles Gonzales Busted in Murder of CO Mountain Biking Pioneer Mike Rust

A photo of Mike Rust as seen in an Outside television video seen here, along with additional images.
A photo of Mike Rust as seen in an Outside television video seen here, along with additional images.

Update: In April, we reported that human remains found in Saguache County the previous January had been positively identified as Mike Rust, a mountain-biking pioneer who vanished under suspicious circumstances in 2009.

Our previous coverage, which  included an extended profile of Rust supplemented by numerous videos, is on view below.

Now the Colorado Bureau of Investigation has announced that an arrest warrant has been issued in the case for Charles Moises Gonzales — and serving it was undoubtedly easy, since he's currently in jail in Cañon City.

According to the CBI, which is working on the case in conjunction with the Saguache County Sheriff’s Office and the 12th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, investigators don't believe that Rust and Gonzales knew each other, and that makes sense, given the circumstances surrounding Rust's disappearance. Shortly before he went missing, he telephoned a friend to say that someone had burglarized his home and he was following tracks left in the dirt and snow near his residence.

So how was Gonzales linked to the crime? Thus far, the CBI isn't sharing any specifics. However, the agency has listed the charges of which he's suspected — first-degree murder, first-degree burglary, tampering with evidence and abuse of a corpse — as well as his booking photo. See it below, followed by our previous coverage.

Charles Moises Gonzales.
Charles Moises Gonzales.
Colorado Bureau of Investigation

Original post, 5:32 a.m. April 26: Colorado's Mike Rust, nicknamed "Mike the Bike," isn't credited with inventing mountain biking.

But he was undeniably a pioneer, helping to popularize the sport both as a competitor and a behind-the-scenes technician whose innovative spirit is still being felt today.

Now, finally, his friends, family and loved ones have some closure.

Human remains found in January have been identified as him.

Earlier this year, Outside Television assembled a terrific primer on Rust titled Mike Rust and the Birth of the Mountain Bike; it's on view below. Included are vintage shots of Rust in action.

Mike Rust leading the pack.
Mike Rust leading the pack.

His accomplishments are also outlined on the website for the Marin Museum of Bicycling, the current, California-based incarnation of the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame, formerly based in Colorado.

The Hall inducted Rust in 1991.

Here's the site's Rust bio:

A native of Colorado Springs, Mike grew up in a large family (5 brothers and 1 sister). He began building bicycles at an early age; his first was when he was in the seventh grade. This bicycle had a cruiser frame, sturmey-archer 3-speed hub, 40 degrees laced to a 36 degree 26 x 1.75 rim, 3-speed stick shifter and a banana seat.

In 1965, Mike built a mountain bike with a stingray frame, 20-inch wheels, knobby tires (front & back), flat handlebars and a leather saddle, which he launched off the front porch. His next bicycle was a used French 8-speed with 2 chainwheels and a 4-cog free wheel to which he added “curldown” dropbars.

After a 5-year romance with his motorcycles, Mike rediscovered bicycles, became a USCF licensed racer and worked in several Colorado Springs bike shops. His first version of a mountain bike brought him to Crested Butte, in 1980. Mike stayed in the Butte for the following two summers (he wasn’t a fan of the cold CB winters) and worked at Bicycles, Etc. for Neil Murdoch. Mike’s cycling experiences were very influential on the early Crested Butte mountain bike scene both in the technical and competitive arenas.

Mike’s first Pearl Pass Tour was in 1980. He carried his own gear to Aspen, sleeping bag and all, and rode back to Crested Butte the following day over East Maroon Pass on his Littlejohn framed bicycle.

Mike then toured Arizona and worked in the Bisbee Bicycles business. After Bisbee he returned to Crested Butte to work on some of his innovations, which included chromo axles and seat posts for modification to mountain bikes.

In 1985, Mike and Don McClung started Colorado Cyclery and built their first elevated chain stay bike, the Shortie. In 1986, Colorado Cyclery moved the business to Salida, Colorado. That year Mike pursued another of his cycling loves and built his first ordinary bicycle. Rust participated in the Ordinary World’s Road Championships Museum & Parade where he rode the ordinary in performances of the play “Spokesong."

In 1989 he place first in Colorado State Games Mountain Bike Races. In 1990, with his five brothers, he rode ordinaries in Dublin, Ireland for their St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Mike and his brothers also rode the Colorado “Ride the Rockies” tour on their high-wheelers.

Rust as seen on the cover of a Crested Butte newspaper.
Rust as seen on the cover of a Crested Butte newspaper.

The Hall of Fame bio concludes, "Currently Mike resides in the sleepy community of Saguache, Colorado" — and that was true up until his 2009 disappearance.

The mystery of what happened is outlined at the Charley Project, a website created to garner more attention for missing-persons cases that may have fallen from the public consciousness.

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"Rust was last seen in Saguache, Colorado at 7:30 p.m. on March 31, 2009," the account begins. "He was riding a friend's red and white Honda CRF-230 Enduro off-road model motorcycle northbound on a forest service road near his home, which is near mile post 92 on Highway 285. He called a friend on his cellular phone, angry, and said someone had burglarized his residence and he was going to track down the burglar(s), who had left tire tracks in the dirt and snow.

"He has never been heard from again," the narrative continues. "All indications were that Rust didn't intend to be away from home for very long; he left his phone behind and didn't take any of his off-road motorcycle gear. He also left groceries, still in their bags, on the kitchen counter, and some items within the house were out of place. An old .22 caliber revolver was missing from his house. Rust had inherited the gun from his deceased brother and he cherished it."

Mike Rust circa 2009.
Mike Rust circa 2009.

The Charley Project notes that in May 2009, the motorcycle Rust had been riding "was found at the bottom of a steep, rocky ravine near the Cotton Creek trailhead in the San Isabel National Forest in the Sangre de Cristo mountains, about twenty miles east of Rust's home. His blood was on the seat and the foot clutch. Authorities stated it didn't look like the bike had been in a collision; rather, it appeared as if it had been pulled or thrown 65 feet down into the ravine. No indication of Rust or his body could be found in the area.

"Investigators believe Rust was beaten and kicked to death after he confronted two men who had burglarized his home," the site maintains.

Cut to January 2016, when human remains were found near the intersection of highways 17 and 285 in Saguache County — and 7News reports that analysis has definitively linked them to Rust.

No one has been held responsible for Rust's death, but filmmaker Nathan Ward is doing his best to make sure he isn't forgotten. He's created a documentary about Rust titled The Rider and the Wolf that screened at the 2015 Denver Film Festival. It's scheduled to be shown again on June 22 at the Oriental Theater.

Look below to see the aforementioned Outside Television piece about Rust, followed by a Denver Film Festival interview with Ward. 



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