Summer terror

By: Kyle Miller


On the night of June 18, 1999, arsonists destroyed the library and damaged the sanctuary

at the B’Nai Israel Synagogue in Sacramento, California. Within the next 45 minutes,

fires were set at two other synagogues, Beth Shalom and Kennesset Israel.

The following items of trace evidence were removed for the oil jugs.

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

gay couple murdered

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

while they asleep. They died in the town of Happy Valley, a small community located in

the Redding area of California. Gary and Winfred were an openly gay couple. Their

vehicle and some credit cards were also stolen during the commission of the homicide.

Synagogue B’Nai Israel Evidence

o Glass on the black wrecking bar recovered from the Williams’

vehicle was similar in re fractive index to the glass from a broken

window at B’Nai Israel.

o Paint on the broken glass of the window at B’Nai Israel was

similar to the wrenching bar paint from the Williams’ vehicle .

o Oil jugs similar to the Mobil oil jug from Williams’ Palo Cedro


o Dog hairs and feathers on the mouth of the oil jugs and rags tied to

the oil jugs were similar to animals at the Palo Cedro residence.

o Blue over red paint chips on the mouth of the oil jugs were similar

to the paint from the shed at the Palo Cedro residence.

o Newspaper in the bottom of a crate left at the synagogue arson was

from the Redding area.

o A palm print on one Anti-Jewish flyer left at the synagogues was

identified as from (Benjamin) Matson.

abortion clinic

On July 3, the vehicle belonging to Matson and Mauder was found abandoned in the

Oroville area. Oroville is located between Redding and Sacramento. When the

investigators opened the door to search inside, they noticed a strong odor of gasoline.

The break in these cases came when the credit card of Gary Matson was used to order

ammunition from Arizona. The ammunition had been shipped to a mailbox or UPS store

in Yuba City, California. Yuba City is just South of Oroville. On July 7, as the police

arrived at the store in Yuba City to investigate this lead, they observed brothers Benjamin

Matthew Williams and James Tyler Williams picking up the ammunition. Both were

arrested at this time for possession of a stolen credit card. Numerous weapons and

thousands of rounds of ammunition were recovered in subsequent searches of their

vehicle and residence. One of the recovered weapons was identified as the murder

weapon that killed Gary Matson and Winfred Mauder. The Williams brothers were then

arrested for murder.

Investigators from Sacramento became interested in the Williams brothers because of the

newspaper from Redding that was found at the synagogue fire scenes and the recognition

that the homicide case in Redding may not be the only crime that the brothers had


A black pry bar and a black wrecking bar were collected from the Williams’ vehicle.

Receipts showed that they had been purchased just prior to the synagogue arsons. Both

bars had powdered glass fragments embedded in indentations on the surface of both bars.

In addition, a large green paint on an aluminum metal shaving was present on the blade

of the pry bar. None of the paint samples collected from any of the synagogue had green

paint. After a discussion with investigators as to possible sources of this paint, the arson

scene at the building with the medical in Sacramento was revisited on July 28. This was

a white stucco building with green trim. The building was in the process of

reconstruction. All the broken fixed windows had been repaired. One of the o riginal

metal framed doors with glass inserts located at the front entrance was boarded up

between two sheets of plywood. The glass in the upper portion of the door had been struck by a linear shaped object. It did not fall out of the door because the glass was a

laminate. The frame of the door was aluminum that had been painted green. A black

paint transfer was present on the broken edges of the glass. A comparison of the green

paint chip on the pry bar and the black paint on the glass established that this pry bar

most likely broke this window. Some of the glass on the prybar was similar in refractive

index to the only existing broken window of the clinic. Other glass on the two bars was

not similar to the broken glass in the recovered door. The other windows that were

broken in order to gain entry into the building had since been replaced. So this was not

an unexpected finding.

A garbage truck driver, who was picking up trash early that morning from the clinic, saw

the fire, and two men in jumpsuits speed away from the scene in a small dark colored

box-like car. The description of the vehicle was similar to Gary Matson’s car.

With this additional information and the information developed from the physical

evidence left at the synagogue arsons, Sacramento FBI agents and ATF agents served an

additional search warrant on the residences of the Williams brothers including their

parents house in Palo Cedro outside of Redding, California , and the suspects’ vehicle. In

a prior search of the Palo Cedro residence, Mobil Oil bottles similar to those found at

B’Nai Israel synagogue had been recovered. This suggested that the Palo Cedro

residence was the place at which the arson devices were constructed. The warrants

included collection of reference materials such as paint, animal hairs, feathers, and

fabrics for comparison to the trace evidence already isolated from the arson devices used

in setting the fires. A blue jumpsuit from a bedroom in the house and additional Mobil

oil bottles from a shed outside the house were collected. Reference materials and

additional trace evidence was collected from the Williams’ vehicle and the Matson

vehicle in order to link the Williams vehicle to the synagogue fires and Matson’s vehicle

to the medical clinic fire in Sacramento.

Medical Clinic Evidence

o Paint on the blade of the Black Pry bar in the Williams’ vehicle

similar to the door from the medical clinic

o Paint on the broken glass of the door of the medical clinic similar

to the pry bar paint

o Glass on the pry bar similar in refractive index and semi

quantitative elemental analysis to the glass from the window in the

door of the medical clinic

o Glass on the floor of Matson vehicle similar in refractive index and

semi quantitative elemental analysis to the glass from the medical


o Glass on the jumpsuit recovered from the Palo Cedro residence

similar in refractive index and semi qualitative elemental analysis

to glass from the medical clinic o Fibers on the jumpsuit recovered from Palo Cedro residue was

were similar to the upholstery of the Matson vehicle

o Fibers on the front seats of the Matson vehicle similar to the fabric

of the jumpsuit

o DNA (analyzed by FBI laboratory) on the jumpsuit matching the

younger brother James Williams indicating that the younger

Williams brother wore this jumpsuit.

Daubert ruling

The daubert ruling was The Daubert standard provides a rule of evidence regarding the admissibility of expert witnesses' testimony during United States federal legal proceedings. Pursuant to this standard, a party may raise a Daubert motion, which is a special case of motion in limine raised before or during trial to exclude the presentation of unqualified evidence to the jury. The Daubert trilogy refers to the three United States Supreme Court cases that articulated the Daubert standard:

This affected the case because it would have excluded the trace evidence which convicted the brothers