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Russell Thomas Beck
Witness to a murder by Philip Stroh
The illegitimate child of teenage parents, Rusty lived with his mother in Los Angeles, and until recently, never knew his father. When he was 15, his mother took him to the zoo where she abandoned him and left LA with her boyfriend. Rusty became homeless and started to prostitute himself to survive, working the streets of Hollywood.
Life with Sharon RaydorEdit
After he came to the attention of the LAPD, he was placed in protective housing with Sharon Raydor who became his foster mother, while they promised to try to find Sharon Beck and reunite him with her as part of the deals that kept him as a witness and willing to remain with Sharon, although he is not happy with the arrangement. After some time, the LAPD located his mother, Sharon Beck, in Reno, Nevada. Major Crimes provided a bus ticket, but she only got as far as Bakersfield before getting off the bus and leaving with an unknown man. Rusty had been taken to meet her by Andy Flynn, because Raydor was occupied, and disappeared from the bus station when they realized his mother was not on the bus. It was evening, and the Major Crimes squad told Raydor that they would keep working until he was found, but Raydor finds that he had returned home.
He later meets his biological father, Daniel Dunn, whom he had never known and had not known about him. However, on his first trial weekend with him Dunn becomes enraged when Rusty tells Dunn's fiancee about having had to prostitute himself, and Sharon comes home from work to find that he had needed to use the money she gave him to get home, and has a split lip and a black eye. As she treats his wounds, her police training leads her to photograph him, but her calm is forced- they are not in a stage where Rusty will apologize to his father, they are at one where they pray that she doesn't kill the man. After Dunn tries to explain his side of the story to her (a spontaneous confession), the team comes together to force him to give up his parental rights to Rusty for good or face criminal charges for child abuse. Rusty is then reassured that he has a family in the team even if they are not biologically related to him.
Raydor enrolls Rusty in the Catholic school that Raydor had sent Ricky and Emily to, where he takes summer school classes in order to catch up with his peers. He also gets the use of the car that Raydor already had, for her biological children to use during visits. In "Final Cut" she is asked by Deputy D.A. Emma Rios if these might be considered bribing the witness. Raydor makes it clear that Rios should count on her remaining Rusty's guardian.
In season 2, Rusty is hunted by serial killer Wade Weller on the orders of Phillip Stroh. This results in Rusty first having to give up things like driving after the first threatening letter, in his terms, being "grounded", to having an around-the-clock protection detail and participating in an SIS operation to catch Weller when the threat is confirmed. He puts up with restrictions after confirming that he will stay with Sharon. He is attacked while out of the detail's sight, and is rescued by Sharon. After Weller's death at the hands of Provenza, Rusty comes out as gay to Sharon, expecting a rejection (comparing himself to the pedophiles in the case, because they went after boys). Instead he gains full acceptance from her. In season 3's "Letting It Go", Rusty comes out to the Major Crimes Division who express obviously fake surprise at the news and fully support him.
He also has a strong relationship with Louie Provenza, whom Rusty actually consulted before coming out to the rest of the team.
In "Special Master Part One" and "Special Master Part Two", things come to a head with Phillip Stroh when he agrees to make a deal and uses the moment to point the police towards Markos Christakis and then escape. While Sharon wants to give Rusty another protective detail, he declines as he wants to live his life without allowing Stroh to disrupt it. Sharon keeps a secret detail on Rusty for five months but eventually calls it off.
During his investigations for his blog, Identity, he met a man TJ Shaw who started out as a source but became a good friend. Its suggested that TJ is interested in Rusty and that Rusty may be interested in TJ as well, but Rusty claims not to be looking for a relationship with TJ who's gay, but so closeted that he hasn't come out to his family who he lives and works with. Their relationship outside of the investigation quickly crumbles and they have went their separate ways when the investigation concluded. Rusty's investigation into the true identity of murder victim Alice Herrera uncovers her true name and leads to Alice getting a proper burial.
Following the conclusion of his Alice story, Rusty does a story on the background of her killer Slider. Rusty's story eventually leads to him being forced to testify on Slider's behalf at his sentencing hearing. On the stand, Rusty states that while Slider has a lot of issues that contributed to his life of crime, it doesn't excuse what he did and he sees Alice as the true victim. Slider is given the death penalty and is enraged by Rusty's testimony as he'd believed Rusty to be his one friend.
While searching for Alice's true identity, Rusty meets her brother Gustavo "Gus" Wallace who ends up being the key to identifying Alice. While initially fearful of Gus due to the little he is able to find out about the man, Rusty quickly befriends him and aids him in securing Alice's burial and finding his other sister Paloma. Following Alice's burial, Gus starts to express an interest in Rusty romantically that culminates at the squad Christmas party after Slider's trial where Rusty agrees to date Gus. In "Off the Wagon", Rusty admits he loves Gus for the first time and can't imagine a life without him, something which Gus reciprocates.
Starting in season 4, Rusty starts going to college for journalism with his Identity vlogs being started as a result. While Rusty initially goes to Santa Monica City College, Judge Grove and his wife pull some strings to get him transferred to UCLA due to Judge Grove's wife thinking Rusty's talents are wasted at Santa Monica City College.
As Andy Flynn's relationship with Sharon has increased, Rusty's relationship with him has changed. First, he noted the amount of time they were spending together and, while watching Andy explain to his daughter that he didn't have the type of relationship with Sharon that he'd let her believe, he stepped in and showed her (as well as Sharon and Andy) that they actually were in a relationship they simply had not admitted was romantic. When they decide to officially begin dating, Andy worries that Rusty won't accept him. When Andy tells Gus that he will try to find Paloma, Rusty tells Andy that, if he is going to be a bigger part of his life, he has to mean what he said.
Rusty asks Andy if he will be in the way when Andy has found a potential house to buy with Sharon, and was assured that Andy had not even thought of separating him and Sharon (in telling Provenza about the place earlier he had excitedly talked about things for "the kid"). He is often giving Rusty advice on how to deal with his mother based on his knowledge of both parties, and Rusty trusted him enough to ask about his experience as a recovering alcoholic, and Andy was very open in his answer. While Sharon is later upset at Rusty's amateur detective work in identifying the correct Bill Jones, Andy is proud of his efforts and supports Rusty against Sharon.
In "Hindsight, Part 1", Gary Lewis, the man who abused Rusty and led to his abandonment at the zoo returns to his life. Rusty discovers that Gary is conspiring to blackmail his biological mother into returning to a life of crime after she got sober in prison. In "Hindsight, Part 5", Rusty visits Gary in prison on the advice of Sharon Raydor where Gary admits to his plot. As Gary has decided to represent himself in court, his conversation with Rusty is admissible as evidence against him and Rusty alerts DDA Hobbs and the Major Crimes Division. With the evidence Rusty gathered, his biological mother is exonerated for her role in the crime and Gary can be put in prison for life.
During season 5, Rusty works with Buzz Watson on a new Identity story, titled The Long Shadow, centered around Buzz's efforts to find the men who murdered his father and uncle in 1986. At times their differing approaches to the case as a journalist and police officer bring them into conflict. In "White Lies, Part 3", in order to help Buzz identify the correct Bill Jones, Rusty goes undercover secretly to get the suspect's fingerprints. Rusty's successful efforts enable Buzz to positively identify and arrest Bill Jones for his father and uncle's murders. Buzz later tells Rusty and Gus that the two men have taken deals for life in prison. On his final Identity, Rusty states that helping Buzz has caused him to realize he is an advocate, not a journalist which is causing Rusty to switch to law school.
In "N.S.F.W.", Rusty's mother reveals that she is pregnant by Gary and asks for Rusty's support in raising his sibling. Rusty, feeling that his mother is in no position to raise a child, pushes for adoption. She explains that Gary's parents are good people who are willing to adopt the child. However, after seeing the sonogram of his unborn sister and learning that Gary's parents are willing to raise the child with his mother (Sharon Beck originally told him that she would give the child up and neither of them would have contact with her), Rusty changes his mind and drives his mother to Gary's parents house so she can keep the baby. Rusty was influenced by Gus and Andy in his acceptance of the baby and in encouraging Sharon Beck to be a part of her daughter's life, first by Gus' love of his surviving sister and then by Andy's story of what inspires him to remain sober, including his relationships.
- When allowing Rusty to do his Slider story, Judge Grove suggests he become a lawyer due to his propensity to argue so much, reasoning that as a lawyer, Rusty would at least get paid to do it. In "Moral Hazard", Sharon Raydor notes how Rusty's solution to Buzz's problem with the partials is more like that of a lawyer than that of a reporter. In his final installment of The Long Shadow, Rusty states he is planning to go to law school rather than continue with journalism.
- When Judge Grove gets Rusty transferred to UCLA, he quotes something Rusty said to Sharon, causing Rusty to believe Sharon put Judge Grove up to getting him transferred. However, Judge Grove dodges the question rather than confirm or deny it.
- Despite being adopted by Sharon in mid-season 3, Rusty doesn't start calling her "Mom" until mid-season 4 as anything other than a joke. Similarly, members of Major Crimes and Gus say "your mom" when referring to Sharon Raydor and specify "your biological mother" when they mean Sharon Beck.
- While working as a set PA on Badge of Justice, Rusty garnered the nickname "Beckin".
- In one of his earliest interactions with Sharon Raydor, Rusty told her that she is not his mother and can't order him around. In "Hindsight, Part 4", in a reversal of the situation, Rusty tells Sharon "you're my mom" after she calls Sharon Beck his mother.
- Rusty displays a propensity to sabotage his relationships inadvertently. Rusty's focus on his Alice story destroyed his friendship with TJ Shaw while his reluctance to tell Gus about his Slider story very nearly destroyed their friendship as well. However, unlike TJ, Gus and Rusty made amends. He also pushes Buzz as he pursues finding answers in his family's case, trying to move the investigation faster than Buzz is prepared to and restarting a recording after being asked to stop.
- In "Moral Hazard", Rusty fell into a similar situation to the one that destroyed his friendship with TJ, allowing his focus on one of his stories to consume him to the point of neglecting everything else including his relationship with Gus. Unlike TJ, Gus simply pulled Rusty away and was indulgent of his later rushing back to talk to Sharon while they were going on a date about a revelation he'd made.
- In "White Lies, Part 2", Rusty and Gus watch the first Die Hard movie which Gus promises isn't very violent as Rusty doesn't like violent movies. Die Hard is actually an extremely violent movie.
What's In a Name?Edit
Rusty later started to go to college and became interested in journalism. After failing to get a story that will get him on the school newspaper in "A Rose is a Rose", at the suggestion of Buzz, Rusty starts investigating the case of Alice Herrera, an unidentified homeless victim who was the focus of "Jane Doe 38" and part of the reason he chose to let Raydor adopt him. Rusty started working on identifying the girl and started an online blog called Identity that he posts his findings to.
According to Raydor, Rusty's work is professional-grade and she is clearly proud of his efforts. After Rusty interviews Alice's killer, Greg "Slider" Rasenick, in "Sorry I Missed You", he nearly ends up part of her trial due to Slider claiming that Raydor sent Rusty to circumvent the justice system, but Judge Grove decided that Rusty was simply acting as a journalist and dismissed the subpoena. He also allowed Rusty to continue his work and advised Raydor to let him work without her looking over his shoulder all the time.
Rusty's efforts to identify Alice have hit a big break: after breaking Alice's voicemail with TJ's help, he found one from a man who clearly knew Alice, that her name wasn't really Alice and was the one she had run from Las Vegas to get away from. However, he couldn't leave any other messages afterwards as her voicemail box was full.
After playing the messages to Andrea Hobbs, Rusty deleted a few of Alice's old messages and left a new greeting message asking for anyone looking for Alice to call him back. Soon afterwards, the man left a message, identifying himself as Gustavo Wallace and showing worry about Alice and her little sister Paloma. Rusty believes that this man knows Alice well, doesn't watch Identity and doesn't know she's dead. Given Gustavo's knowledge of Alice, its possible he's the break Rusty's looking for, but he's determined to find out more about the man before he sets up a meeting with him to be safe.
Even after learning that Gustavo, who claims to be Alice's older brother, has a criminal record, Rusty still intends to meet with him because it would mean that he could solve the mystery he has been working on.
With a positive identification provided by Gus Wallace, the mystery of Alice Herrera's true identity was solved. Her real name was Mariana Wallace. Rusty later interviews Gus about Mariana and their family and his search for his surviving sister.
A week after Mariana's burial, Rusty visits her grave and reflects on her life.
The Other Side of the CoinEdit
After getting the permission to run a story on Slider and interview him, he visits Slider who was unaware that Rusty was coming to visit him and still feels that he screwed him over the last time they met. Slider insists on being innocent and that the system screwed him over.
After many interviews with Slider (during which Rusty deduces that Slider is illiterate, which was unknown even to his lawyer), Slider asks Rusty if he will be at his trial and he says yes because it's a part of his story. Slider also asks if he can wave at Rusty and would he wave back because he is the only person who cares about him and that he doesn't have anyone else who would come to the trial for him. These news leave Rusty visibly stunned.
Slider is put on trial for Mariana's murder with Justine Pittman, Mariana's brother Gus and Andy Flynn testifying against him. Slider waves at Rusty at the trial and he waves back even though he is caught in a moral dilemma when Gus is flown in for the trial and Gus will believe he is there for Mariana, while Slider will believe he is there for him and the fact that Rusty hasn't told Gus about his story on Slider.
After all of the testimonies in the trial, the jury returns with the verdict after only a day of deliberation. Slider is found guilty of all charges which include attempted murder, murder in the first degree with special circumstances, witness tampering and witness intimidation. Slider's attorney, Bobby Munroe, subpoenas Rusty to testify on Slider's behalf about his childhood, inability to read and disconnected view of reality in hopes of making the jury see Slider as a person and spare him from the death penalty. Rusty's relationship with Slider shocks and angers Gus who thought that Rusty was at the trial for his sister.
Rusty testifies to Slider's past, including that he believes Slider has a learning disorder like dyslexia. However, while Rusty agreed that the system failed Slider, he also didn't see it as an excuse for Mariana's murder, telling everyone that himself and Mariana both lived on the streets at fifteen like Slider, but neither turned to drugs or murder. When Bobby Munroe keeps referring to Slider as the victim, Rusty tells everyone that when he hears "the victim" mentioned in the case, he thinks of Mariana Wallace, not Slider.
Rusty's testimony causes Gus to look into his story on Slider and it helps him understand the relationship between Slider and Rusty and apologizes for his initial outburst.
The jury decides to sentence Slider to death and Judge Grove ultimately upholds the sentence.
On his final entry in The Other Side of the Coin, Rusty states that Slider will likely exhaust his appeals and then be executed for Mariana's murder. However, as the state hasn't executed anyone since 2006, Slider could spend twenty years on death row before execution.
The Long ShadowEdit
In Season 5, Rusty starts a new story, titled The Long Shadow, in which he works with Buzz Watson to solve a cold homicide case. The victims in that case were Jay Watson and Steven Watson, Buzz' father and uncle. In the final installment, Buzz reports that the killers, Gene Hecht and Bill Jones have both taken deals that put them in prison for the rest of their life. Buzz tells Rusty that he feels that he has not cast off the long shadow over his life but instead projected it onto the kids of Bill Jones, the shooter in his father and uncle's murders. Rusty states that working with Buzz has caused him to realize that he is an advocate, not a journalist and will now be pursuing law school instead of journalism to further his cause.
|Major Crimes Characters|
|Sharon Raydor • Louie Provenza • Andy Flynn • Michael Tao • Julio Sanchez • Amy Sykes • Wes Nolan • Buzz Watson • Rusty Beck • Russell Taylor • Fritz Howard • Dr. Fernando Morales • Andrea Hobbs|