Bill Rushbrook, long identified in conservative Presbyterian and Reformed circles as a leader in mercy ministries, was murdered in the early morning hours of December 8, 1998. His adopted fifteen year old daughter, Marika, has been charged with the slaying.
The San Joaquin County prosecutor is seeking to try Miss Rushbrook as an adult. The San Joaquin County Probation Office, meanwhile, has advocated that she be tried as a juvenile. According to press reports, if convicted as a juvenile, Marika could be held no longer than her twenty-fifth birthday; while if convicted as an adult, she would likely spend the rest of her life behind bars.
The murder of Bill Rushbrook was the latest of tragedies to hit the family. In early 1997, Mr. Rushbrook's wife, Ronnie, died after a long illness. Her death left five children motherless.
According to police reports, Mr. Rushbrook died in his bed after being struck in the head by four bullets from his own pistol. Published reports state that Marika telephoned "911" at approximately 1:30 AM and said that she had just shot her father. After police arrived, Miss Rushbrook surrendered peacefully.
The Modesto (Calif.) Bee reported that the homicide shocked the quiet Escalon, California, neighborhood in which he lived. The town had not witnessed a murder since 1963. An unscientific poll of Bee readers conducted by the newspaper indicated that the crime was regarded as among the top ten significant local stories in 1998.
The murder came as a shock to the Reformed world, as well. Mr. Rushbrook was known in many Calvinistic denominations, including the Christian Reformed Church, the Reformed Church in the United States, the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, and the Presbyterian Church in America, for his labors of compassion.
Mr. Rushbrook began the ministry of disaster response in the early 1960s. Among the disaster relief efforts he helped to coordinate in recent years were the clean-up after Hurricanes Hugo and Andrew, and floods in the Midwest and in South Georgia.
He had at one time been the Director of Mercy Ministries for the Mission to North America Committee of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). Under his leadership, the PCA was often relied upon by the Red Cross and other relief agencies to assist when disasters struck.
At the time of his death, Mr. Rushbrook was the National Director of the Disaster Response and Mercy Ministries for the Presbyterian Evangelistic Fellowship (PEF), a position he had held since May, 1994. Ron and Judy Haynes of St. Louis, Missouri, who joined PEF in July, 1998, to work with Disaster Response, will be taking over the responsibility for this ministry.
Among Bill Rushbrook's survivors are his wife of three months, CaroleSue; his sons, Michael, Mason, and Mickey; and his daughters, Lisa and Marika.
A statement by Rev. Bill Frisbee of PEF says that Mr. Rushbrook "had neither life insurance nor mortgage insurance." A fund has been established to help pay off the $144,500 owed on his home. As of February 8th, about $2,000 had been raised. Donations may be sent to the "Rushbrook Mortgage Fund" at PEF, PO Box 1890, Decatur, Georgia 30031-4203.