Summer of Terror

By: Ameera Fatima

Summary of the Case

Arsonists destroyed the library and partially damaged the sanctuary at the B’ Nai Synagogue in Sacramento, California on June 18, 1999. Many evidences were captured by the police such as 1- gallon Mobil oil jugs, torn fabric, wooden crates and many more things. The oil jugs had plenty of trace evidence on it. The paint chips that were found had a light blue top coat over a red layer. A month later, a couple was murdered on their bed while they were asleep. Another medical clinic which performed abortions near Sacramento was burned down. Many events like these were going on and the trace evidence was barely a help to link it back to a suspect. The break in the case came when the credit cards of the murdered victims was used to order ammunition from Arizona. The police located the delivery location and found Matthew Williams and James Williams picking up the ammunition. Their home and car was searched constantly and the police eventually recovered a weapon that murdered the couple. It was a black pry bar. The pry bar had shreds of glass and green paint. The synagogue did not have any green paint however, the medical clinic had a windows which had a green trim. A prior search at the brothers’ parents’ residence involved the collection of the same mobile oil jugs that were found at the synagogue fires. Therefore, the Williams brothers’ were found guilty in the case.

Synagogue Damage

During the middle of the night, arsonists dismantled the library and damaged the sanctuary at the B’Nai Israel Synagogue in Sacramento, California. The same night, two other synagogues were set on fire within the span of the next 45 minutes. The B'Nai Israel was not burnt completely, therefore, evidence was left. The physical evidence included 1-gallon Mobil jugs, wooden crates, torn pieces of fabric were found. Other evidences include:

- Paint chips with a light blue top coat over a red layer

- Red plastic chip

- White cotton strips of fabric

- White and brown dog hairs

- Numerous feathers primarily white and brown in color

- Numerous miscellaneous fibers of various types and colors

Murder of the Couple

On the evening of July 1, 1999, Gary Matson and Winfred Mauder were murdered in bed

while they asleep. These people were open about their same-sex relationship. The car and credit cards were also stolen while the criminal killed them brutally. Their car was found abandoned in Oroville, California after 2 days.

Abortion Clinic

On the evening of July 2, 1999, a medical clinic was burned by arsonists that

preformed abortions in Sacramento The suspicion was put on the owner of the clinic since the place might have been set on fire due to high hopes of claiming insurance money. This case was later linked to the synagogue arsonists.

Daubert Ruling

The Daubert ruling is basically endorses an alternate definition of the scientific method which includes hypothesis testing, estimates of error rates, peer-reviewed publication, and general acceptance.
Moreover, Under this standard, these factors that may be considered in determining whether the methodology is valid are:


(1) whether the technique in question can be and has been tested

(2) whether it has been subjected to peer review and publication

(3) its known or potential error rate

(4) the existence and maintenance of standards controlling its operation

(5) whether it has attracted widespread acceptance within a relevant scientific community.

What Happened in the end?

The Williams' brothers were charged with several counts of arson, murder, and hate crimes. The attorneys for the defendants made a motion for a Daubert hearing in forensic hair analysis, forensic paint analysis, forensic glass analysis, and forensic fiber analysis. After many declarations written by people across the nation, the request for a hearing was denied by the Federal Court judged. Later on, the brothers' pleaded guilty to the crimes they committed.