Epi 30: Yuba County 5

On the night of the 24th of February, 1978, a group of five young men attended a college basketball game at California State University. The group of men had been anticipating their Special Olympic basketball tournament that was scheduled for the very next night in Sacramento, which they had been looking forward to for months.  After the game, they traveled 70 miles in the opposite direction for no apparent reason, and 4 of the men were found dead months later.  One of the men is still missing to this day.

WTF Moments:

  • Over 30 miles outside of Oroville and 70 miles from Chico, Jack Madruga’s car came to rest empty on a desolate road in the High Sierras, stopping just on the snow line at 4,400 feet in elevation.
  • The car’s underside was completely undamaged.  Investigators concluded that the driver had either used astonishing care and precision, or else the knew the road extremely well – Jack, hated the cold, and according to his parents, would never drive it in the snow or unfamiliar territory.
  • In fact, none of the boys aside from Mathias, cared for camping or other outdoor activities. 
  • That same night, a man named Joseph Shones was driving along the same route and begin to have a fucking heart attack.  He laid down on his backseat and kept his car running to keep warm – After several hours, the gas ran out and he thought he had seen a group of men and a woman with a baby, walking in the light of another vehicle’s headlights. Shone’s claimed he called out for help and the lights disappeared and everything had gone quiet. Once he had rested for some time, he walked eight miles down to get help at a place he had been drinking at earlier in the day called Mountain House, passing a strange abandoned blue-green colored car along the way.
  • Ted Weiher’s body was discovered first in an abandoned cabin. He was laying on a bed with eight sheets wrapped around him, including his head. The autopsy showed that he had died of a combination of starvation and hypothermia. He had lost nearly half his body weight, and the growth of his beard suggested he had lived as long as 13 weeks from when he had last shaved. 
  • Ted’s autopsy showed that Ted died of hypothermia and starvation, despite there being a propane tank and over a years’ worth of canned food in and near the trailer.
  • The cans of food required a P-38 can-opener, a very specific can-opener to the military and army – Gary Mathias and Jack Madruga were the only ones in the group with military experience.
  • In the trailer, there was a gold watch found on a side table that did not belong to anyone in the group.
  • Jack Madruga and Bill Sterling’s body were found on opposite sides of the road 11.4 miles from where the car had been. The former’s body had been partially consumed by scavenging animals; only bones remained of the latter, scattered over a small area.
  • Two days after the discovery of Jack and Bill, as part of one of the other search parties, Jack Huett’s father insisted on helping the police in the search, since his son was the last 2 that still hadn’t been found.  During the search he discovered his son’s blue jean jacket in the snow and when he ran to pick it up, a back bone fell out of the jacket. His shoes and jeans nearby helped identify the body. Yikes.
  • Gary Mathias has been missing for over 41 years, and this case remains unsolved to this day.

What we’re drinking tonight: Frostbite Martini’s


Click here to listen to this episode!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.