Gary Dale Mathias

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Above: Matthias, circa 1978

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Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance

  • Missing Since: February 24, 1978 from Oroville, California
  • Classification: Lost/Injured Missing
  • Date of Birth: October 15, 1952
  • Age: 25 years old
  • Height and Weight: 5'10, 170 pounds
  • Distinguishing Characteristics: Caucasian male. Brown hair, hazel eyes.
  • Medical Conditions: Mathis is mildly mentally disabled. He is high-functioning, but if he is placed in a stressful situation, his functioning deteriorates.
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    Details of Disappearance

    Mathias was last seen near Oroville, California on February 24, 1978. He went missing with four friends: Jack Madruga, Jack Huett, Ted Weiber and William Lee Sterling. The men were part of a day program for mentally handicapped adults and played on a basketball team. On the night of February 24 - 25, they were supposed to play a basketball game in Chico, California, then return to their homes. They all lived with their parents. Mathias and Madruga were both licensed drivers. The five men never returned home. On February 27, their car was found stuck in the snow on a Plumas National Forest service road, far from their route home.

    The area where the men's car was found is heavily forested, mountainous and rocky. The snow was four to six feet deep, and a storm was raging in the area at the time. The men were not dressed appropriately for the weather; they all wore street clothes and low-cut shoes. In June 1978, after the spring thaw, the bodies of Madruga, Huett, Weibel and Sterling were found. Authorities found Weiber's body in a Forest Service trailer in the Daniel Zink campgrounds, nineteen miles from where the car had been. The trailer contained blankets, clothing, matches and food. Weiber lived for an extended time period, perhaps eight to thirteen weeks, but eventually died of exposure. When he was found, his shoes were missing. Investigators believe Sterling and Madruga never made to the trailer; their bodies were found four and a half miles short of it. They think Huett and possibly Mathias came to the trailer with Weiber, but left again. Huett's body was located, but there was no trace of Mathias.

    Mathias is presumed deceased, but remains classified as a missing person.

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    Investigating Agency
    If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
    Yuba County Sheriff's Department
    530-749-7777

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    Source Information
    Yuba County Sheriff's Office
    The Marysville Journal-Tribune
    The Santa Fe New Mexican
    The Elyria Chronicle Telegram

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    Updated 2 times since October 12, 2004.

    Last updated February 14, 2010; medical conditions added, details of disappearance updated.

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