S04 Episode 7: Called to the Forest (Pt. 2 of 2)
this is unexplained. And you're listening to the second final installment of season. Full episodes seven cold to the forest. Of scaring everywhere within a five mile radius of the abandoned. Mercury montego. The Yuba county sheriff's office had found nothing. By the end of the day. However, they would have their first significantly. It came from a man named Joseph showns. Around five fifty pm on Friday, February twenty four the night to five men went missing shuns was making his way into plumas national forest along the aura Ville two Quincy road fifty five year old shuns had been checking to see if the road would be accessible for a trip. He planned to take that weekend when his votes Balkan bug got suddenly stuck in the snow after trying unsuccessfully to push out shuns felt a painful tightening in his chest. And immediately got back inside the vehicle to catch his breath. Unbeknownst to him at the time. He had suffered mild heart today. Being in such discomfort. He decided his best hope is to keep the engine running and try to stay warm until it passed. Or until someone else came by who could help. Drifting in and out of consciousness as the pain in his chest. Intensified? It was about to living thirty PM when shown was startled awake. By what he took to be two sets of headlights driving in from behind him one belonging to a car and the other two a pickup truck. My now unable to move. He could only watch desperation is the light passed him by and disappeared around the next bend. Thirty minutes later after hearing what he thought would people whistling nearby, showings, gathered the strength to investigate. Stumbling along the Dr he followed what he now to be voices until he came across a car seemingly parked up by the road and a number of silhouetted figures moving about in front of its headlights. Later described one of them as possibly being a woman who is carrying a baby with all the other figures being men. Jones called out for help talking ceased immediately. Moments later, the headlights switched off. Plunged into compete darkness. Shone angrily called out again the help but got no response. Suddenly feeling a little exposed swifty turned around and headed back to his car. A short time later he called science to Bhatia seemed to be the beams of flashlights. Moving about in the forest around him calling out once more for help. He could only watch and desperation as one by one. The beams of light was switched off in response when shown its engine eventually cut out at four AM he had little choice, but destroy count for the nearest inhabited place that he could find. Remembering the vehicle he had seen from the night before he decided first to check if it was still there. Sure, not just where it had been the night before he found what he could see then was a turquoise, but Curie Montego, but no sign of its previous occupants anyway. Despite suffering from a heart attack time Joseph shown, eventually will five miles to a nearby lodge house from where he was laid to take an home whites manager. When explaining to the police later, although there was little doubt. He had seen the abandoned car Shawn's cautioned that since he wasn't entirely lucid at the time. Not everything he thought he had seen could be trusted. The way it was certainly something to go on. What's more fifty five year old, man? Suffering a heart attack was able to walk five miles down the road to safety was reason to hope that the five men from Yuba county, Bill Stirling Chakma Druba. Check Hewitt, Ted. We her and Gary Matthias could have done the same. Provided. They were indeed the men that shown at scene. Undersheriff check Beecham received another break shortly after when a print dusting of the car revealed. No other marks inside apart. From those belonging to the missing men, though. It wasn't conclusive. It seemed to suggest at least that the car, but not been stolen. By the end of that first day nine inches of snow fell across the plumas national forest region further complicating the search buoyed by Shawn's witness statement. However, the various local sheriff's departments expanded their search to his forest bucks lake some twenty miles up the road from where the car was found. Having discovered that Bill. Sterling's family owned a cabin near the lake. There was a chance that the men might have tried to reach it. But again, no footprints clothing or any other sign of them could be found. Back in the Yuba city area. The families of the missing tripled by worry continued to wait helplessly for any sign of their sons and brothers. With the please continuing to juror blank. Some of the parents suggested contacting psychic in the expectation, even if they couldn't give them any clues, it might least give them some hope. Dr Gloria Daniel was a member of the church of Saudi an organization claimed to teach its members how to become psyche. Although Daniel knock come officially recommended by the Yuba county police it said that she had successfully helped them with similar cases in the past. On the morning of Friday, March third a handful of family members gathered together with Dr Daniel and watched expectantly as she ran her hands through a series of clothes belonging to the missing men, then she sat back and closed. Her eyes. After a short pause with the relatives. -rupt silence. Daniel began to speak. She could see people gathered together in a bluer cabin in a wooded hilly area somewhere near body of water. She said. And something else a small detail. A row of men talked into what looked like green sets of Kansas sleeping bags perhaps. She thought. So they're still alive asked one of the relatives. Hopefully. Dr Daniel hesitated, then opened horizons. I'm afraid that is all I can tell you. She said. By Saturday much fourth as the search entered its second week, the Butte and plumas county sheriff's began to question the merits of continuing with the recent storms showing no sign of letting up and the snow continuing to fall heavily. They decided to pull back their resources. For under sheriff, Jack Beecham who was supervising the entire search and his superior sheriff grant. However, it was no question of cooling off anytime soon. Got only to the men's lives. Depend on it. But the entire reputation of the Yuba county. Police department was resting on it too. It was only the year before that then under sheriff Lloyd thinly was arrested on charges of corruption having been accused of stealing weapons money and other valuable articles from the county evidence room, the DA who had prosecuted him believed crimes were merely symptomatic of a corrupt undercurrent in local police practices which had been left on challenged for too long. The case had been dragging on for almost a year by now looking increasingly likely that Finley was indeed guilty. Finding the five missing man alive was the perfect opportunity to win back the communities trusts. For under sheriff Beecham who had been drafted in to replace Lloyd Finley and sheriff grant facing reelection later that year the personal stakes could barely have been any higher. At the beginning of that second week, having put posters up of the missing men all across the Uber and Sutter area and with reports their disappearance daily feature in the local news the pair finally had another lead to follow up. Carol wolves was the owner of local store in Brownsville. Another foothill town of the Sierra, Nevada, just south of Oroville. Waltz had been working on Saturday February twenty fifth the day after the men had lost been seen. When two men matching the descriptions of Jack Hewitt, and Gary Matthias came into stool. The pair was said to board a variety of snack foods before heading back outside to eat. A second witness also called that same day claiming to have seen at least four of the men at the same stool the day after. Two of them who she took to be Bill sterling and Ted we're with sitting in a red pickup truck while to others who she assumed to be Jack Madrid, and Jack you it was seen at a telephone booth nearby. Having previously focused their search to no avail on the immediate vicinity of the abandoned car Beecham now feared that he had missed a trick. Response to the possible sighting in Brownsville, he probably split the investigation into four parts. With the mountain. Search till continuing one unit was instructed to go back over all the evidence. They had tracing the men's movement up to the night that they disappeared. Another would focus on reinterviewing, the family and friends while the fourth focused its energies and trying to locate anymore. Witnesses from Brownsville. Of immediate interest was the description of the pickup truck now mentioned by two separate witnesses. A short time later one friend of Gary Matthias suits suggested he might have taken them in to visit friends in nearby Forbes town, but when the police contacted them they claimed not to have heard from Gary for months. The fund set up by the desperate families. Any vital information raised almost three and a half thousand dollars but failed to yield any significant leads. On and on the exhaustive. Search continued entering a third and then fourth week, but still the men could not be found. The police also failed to find any trace the apparent pickup truck. On March twenty first nineteen seventy eight Undersheriff Beecham had no choice, but to make the painful decision to call off the search. After hundreds of hours having used almost one hundred personnel sniffer dogs, helicopters and snowmobiles the five friends who had supposedly left home merely to what game of basketball had completely vanished off the face of the earth. with the search having wound down one deputy was put in place of collecting any further information that might come to light having gone to Marysville high school with Ted we and his brothers deputy lawns as had been affected by the men's disappearance, perhaps more than most. Taking it to his personal mission to bring closure to the families in whatever shape that may take for the next few months as spiritedly followed up on each and every piece of information that came in from apparent sightings of the men in Sacramento to his followers on taro and Tampa in Florida. He chased them all to no avail. When one local psychic claimed that the men had been murdered in Oroville in a two story house numbered either four seven to three or four seven five three as spent two days driving, the streets any sign of it. But no such house existed. On some nights deputy as dreaming that he had found them would find himself walking toward them with open arms. Only to wake up alone in the cold darkness of his bedroom. His arms still outstretched before him. By the end of may, even the families had begun to lose hope of ever finding out what had happened to their children. But high up on the mountain the snow was steadily beginning to thaw and soon it would be time to begin letting up some of its secrets. On the often noon of June fourth three bikers went for a week and ride through plumas forest. Heading along the Oroville to Quincy road, they decided to take a turn eastwards onto one of the narrow forest roads headed higher up into the mountain. A short time later the group pulled into the Daniels sink campground located about three miles deeper into the forest off the main road the bikers pulled over a made their way to a large forest service cabin at the back of the site hoping to find a map of the local area. Approaching the building having just noticed a window that had been smashed in the writers were hit by a sweet putrid stench coming from inside. Coming in to investigate further the bikers soon located the source of the smell. They're stretched out on the campaign before them lying on the multiple layers of darkly stained sheets, they could clearly see the outline of a steadily decomposing body. When the call came into the Yuba county sheriff's office later that day Undersheriff Beecham grabbed his hat a made his way to the nearest patrol car. Arriving to find forensics. And deputies from the plumas county sheriff's office already there beach him could tell by the look on their faces that they had found one of them covering his nose from the stench beach him made his way into the cabin and approached the body. With the sheets now rolled back. He could see the Macy's. It'd figure lying underneath the way. The cool joy trousers had been brought up to reveal clear signs of gangrene on the legs. Next to it on a side table, les Brown wallet, a beat necklace and a ring. Beach him picked it up and examined the grazing on the inside which read simply Ted. The body would later be formally identified as staff thirty two year old Ted. We are last seen alive almost one hundred days before. The pathologist ruled the cause of his death to be the result of a pulmonary Dima. Brought on by exposure having survived for up to six weeks after I ca missing. To get to the cabin. We would have to have tracked almost twenty miles up hill in minus temperatures through six foot snowdrifts in the middle of the night. The shirt and corduroy trousers found on his body. The only clothes he had been wearing. What's more it most likely being sheltering in the cabin alive and reasonably well throughout the entirety. The original search. But Beecham couldn't understand it. Curse. We look around the service cabin revealed. Thirty one cans of food that have been taken from a storage locker and eaten but an entire other lockers were that had been left untouched. Propane gas linked to a heating system was also discovered as well as stones into batches. But also books and furniture that could easily have been used as fuel for a fire. Not if it had been utilized. And then the what the missing shoes. We had been wearing a pair of sturdy leather shoes the night, he went missing. But when they found his body his shoes gone. They did however find another pair of shoes left in the cabin a pair of tennis shoes the tat Bologne to Gary Mathias. Recently burned out candle suggested that perhaps someone else had also been there too long after we're died. But had since. Kiwi. Co creates cool hands on projects for kids that make learning about steam fun with a Kiwi co subscription each month, the kid in your life or receive a fun engaging new project, which will help develop their creativity and confidence every crate includes all the supplies needed for that month project detailed easy to follow instructions and an educational magazine to learn even more about that crates theme Kiwi coat inspires kids to see themselves as makers tinkerers and on a mission to empower kids not just to make a project but to make a difference. Kiwi code is offering unexplained listeners the chance to try them for free to redeem this offer and learn more about their projects for kids of all ages. Visit Kiwi co dot com slash unexplained podcast. That's K. I w icy dot com slash unexplained podcast. Discovery we as body prompted an immediate response from the plumas Yuba county police reconvening the search. They had called off three months previously. Two days later, tracing likely lines from the service cabin back to where the Montego had been abandoned officers soon uncovered another body or what was left of it. It was found roughly halfway between the cabin and the abandoned car lying face up next to a small stream the face and extremities had been eaten away by forest animals sometime after death. Car keys found in the trouser pockets revealed it to be the body of thirty rolled Jack Madrid. Later that day not far from Drew's body. More human bones were discovered scattered across an area of roughly fifty feet. It was all that was left of twenty nine year old Bill, sterling. That those three had now been discovered was understandably devastating for the relevant families but equally so those Gary Matthias and Jack Hewitt. With neither having been heard from over one hundred days in all likelihood they hadn't made it out of the forest alive. Either. Leaving it to be only a matter of time before the others would be found skulls volunteers joined the police to help speed up the search. On the morning of June, the eight Jack Hewitt's father also named Jack arrived to help. Deputy lawns as good been entrusted with the case after the initial search. It'd been ended did his best to discourage him from joining in. But Jack without be dissuaded. A few hours later searching an area roughly five miles from the cabin where we had been found. Jack spotty something out of place in the undergrowth. It was a faded Levi's denim jacket. He immediately recognized it as sons. When he picked up from the ground, a human spine fell out of it. Jack recoiled in horror as police quickly gathered around to take it from him. Hewitt skull was found a further one hundred yards down the hill. Barely a quarter of a mile away. Investigators also found three blankets and flashlights which had likely being taken from the service cabin. But no matter how hard they looked they found. No sign of Gary Mathias. After two further weeks Undersheriff Jack Beecham called off the search for a second time. The bodies were rather remains of the four men that so far being found had been placed into green canvas bags after all Justice supposed psychic Dr Daniel at apparently seen only they weren't sleeping bags, but bodybags? Bill Stelling Jack Madrid and Jack Hewitt's deaths were found to being the result of hypothermia with no apparent signs of foul play. That their bones and body were in the state that they were was merely to been down to the animals that got to them after they died. All the twist left for Beecham was to try and piece together. Exactly what happened and he knew just where to stop. Beach him had his doubts about the twenty five year old Gary Mathias from the beginning where the others had intellectual disabilities of one form or another Matthias had no such thing. Early on in the investigation beach him learned from thises family the involvement with the gateway project and how he met the others in the first place was due to his struggles with schizophrenia. What beach also discovered however was that his history was a little more complicated than that. Matthias had in fact, been in and out of psychiatric hospitals since the age of fifteen I being committed after seemingly having suffered an adverse reaction from taking hallucinogenic drugs. After being drafted into the army at the age of eighteen despite his clear medical records Matthias said to have suffered another psychiatric breakdown as the result of his continued drug use. At one point was arrested after going AWOL. While waiting in his cell. He demanded to speak to the officers on duty only to attack them when they opened his duel with aureus had stripped completely naked before carrying out the attack. Around the same time nineteen year old Thias now living back home in olive. I went to visit his cousin at some point in the night. Matthias was discovered sexually assaulting his cousins. Why while she slept? After being charged with assaulting a police officer and intend to rate with us was facing up to twelve years in prison, but Venturi accepted a plea deal and served only eight months. After his release with his behavior became the more Radic. With his drug use escalating, he found himself increasingly on the wrong side of the law. The were a number of bar fights as well as complaints of disturbing. The peace. One time, but Thia is even said to have turned up high at the house of a couple of new telling them he was going to stab woman in the jaw. Two subsequent attempts to have him committed ended in failure. When Matthias managed to escape on one account by crawling out of a storm, drain. Nine hundred seventy five Gary Matthias, enrolled did Yuba college but struggled with both its conventions and fitting in with other students eventually moved out to Oregon in Washington state to live with his grandmother only to turn up at his mother and stepfather's house weeks later tired to Sheffield he had apparently walked the five hundred forty mile journey home eating food. He found along the way to stay alive. All of which for Beecham made Matthias not only a potential candidate for the merger of the other men, or at least to have led them stray. But also one who might even have been capable of getting out of the forest alive. The Gary Mathias has never been found only serves to heighten this theory. It has also been speculated that at least Thias and possibly Jack Hewitt at made it to the service cabin with Ted. We're only to leave soon after with Matthias being the one most likely to have taken with shoes. Unless Gary Matthias is found to have survived after all it is unlikely there will ever be an answer as to what exactly happened on that mysterious night in February nineteen seventy eight. Why five men found themselves driving high up into the Sierra Nevada mountains, seventy miles in the wrong direction? Why having gone his forest? They could demand then seemingly abandoned their car and undertook treacherous journey through thick forest and six foot snowdrifts reaching the higher into the mountains. Only to find death waiting for them at the end of it. Much has been made about the men's intellectual capacities suggesting this may have been a significant factor in what could have been little more than a horrifically wrong. Turn. Some have suggested this might also account for why those who made it to the forest service cabin didn't eat the food and engage the heating apparatus to survive. Others suggests that you to their innocent with such things a worried that they were breaking the law made them to afraid to do. So. As for Gary Matthias despite Undersheriff Beecham's reservations in the time leading up to his disappearance. He appeared to have turned his life around. Not only was he holding down a steady job. But having finally been treated properly for his schizophrenia of which most of his Radic behavior was likely just a symptom. He hadn't suffered any negative effects from it for over two years. Once lost in the forest. However, we can only speculate are quickly he may have deteriorated without his medication. Certainly for Gary, mother and stepfather. There's wasn't especially difficult anguish. Not only did they never get closure. But in the absence of it. They were also forced to endure the inevitable suspicions the two rose once carries past came to the attention of the public. Like, many of the other parents Gary's mother and stepfather had also joined in with the search for the missing men, his stepfather Robert spent most of his time hunting for Gary's distinctive Vic black rimmed glasses reasoning. The tip a bear had taken him. It would have at least left bones uneaten. In all the time spent waiting for news of her son's whereabouts. Gary's mother Ida refused to turn on television to afraid of what she might find out. But no news as a came. She would spend the rest of her life looking for him. I'd like to thank Brian vans in New York for bringing this extraordinary story to my attention. If you enjoy listening to explain and would like to help support you can now go unexplained podcasts dot com forward slash support. All donations. No matter how large or small a massively. Appreciate. All elements of unexplained produced by me. Richard mclean. Smith, please subscribe rate the show on I and feel free to get in touch with any thoughts right ears regarding stories you've held on the show. Perhaps you have an explanation of your own to share. You can reach online unexplained podcasts dot com. Twitter at unexplained at Facebook at Facebook dot com forward slash unexplained.