Guardsman's return a mystery

The rescue swimmer disappeared in Oct. He is in custody as officials investigate.

Posted: January 24, 2013

HONOLULU - A Coast Guardsman who disappeared more than three months ago and showed up at his home over the weekend was in military custody at Pearl Harbor on Wednesday after being released from the hospital.

Tripler Army Medical Center medically cleared and released Petty Officer First Class Russell Matthews on Tuesday night, Coast Guard spokesman Chief Warrant Officer Gene Maestas said.

When Matthews, 36, vanished in October, he was in the process of being discharged from the Coast Guard for illegal use of marijuana, Maestas said.

He hasn't been arrested. But Maestas said Matthews' unauthorized absence for three months and the circumstances surrounding his disappearance make him a flight risk, so his commanding officer ordered him into pretrial confinement at the Naval Brig on Ford Island while the Coast Guard investigates his case.

Maestas said he doesn't know where Matthews has been or what he's been doing since he went missing in October.

He said that would come out in the investigation.

"We want to know, too," Maestas said.

The Coast Guard will decide what measures to take next after a legal review and an independent review are conducted over the next seven days, Maestas said.

Matthews is a rescue swimmer with 15 years of experience in the Coast Guard.

He has been stationed at Air Station Barbers Point on Oahu for five years.

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