Summer of Terror

Rachel Gruebbel & Trinity Garris

Synagogue Burnings

On June 18, 1999 The Williams brothers set fire to B’Nai Israel Synagogue in Sacramento, California. Within the next 45 minutes, fires were set at two other synagogues, Beth Shalom and Kennesset Israel. All three fires were unsuccessful and there was some physical evidence left in the synagogues.

Items left in the first synagogue was:

  • three black one gallon Mobil oil jugs with“Delvac 1300 Super” labels in two different colors. A torn piece of fabric was tied around the handle of the jugs.

  • In addition, a wooden crate with a newspaper in the bottom was recovered from the exterior of the synagogue. The newspaper was the Record Searchlight from Redding, California , 150 miles north of Sacramento.

  • 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


The night of July 1, 1999 Gary Matson and Winfred Mauder were murdered in bed

while they asleep. Gary and Winfred were an openly gay couple. Their vehicle and some credit cards were also stolen during the time of the homicide.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 came in this case when some ammunition had been ordered on the credit cards belonging to them. The ammunition had been shipped to a mailbox or UPS store in Yuba City, California. 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 the searches of their vehicle. One of the recovered weapons was identified as the murder weapon that killed Gary Matson and Winfred Mauder.

Abortion Clinic

On July 2nd, 1999, The Williams brothers burned down an entire office building in Sacramento, California. In that office building was a clinic that performed abortions. Investigators figured it was a case of insurance fraud and were not able to link this arson with the synagogue one’s.

Later, a black bar was found in the trunk of the Williams' car, which gave tons of incriminating evidence.


  • Paint on back door and broken glass of the door matched paint on Williams’ pry bar that was found in his vehicle.

  • Jumpsuit contained fibers that matched the cars, and DNA from James Williams.

  • Glass on the floor of the Williams’ vehicle and recovered jumpsuit matched glass on broken door.

Daubert Ruling

The Daubert Ruling is a standard upheld in courtrooms. It pertains to expert eye witness accounts and that sometimes they are not always correct and should not always be used as solid evidence.

A Daubert motion can be used in court to prohibit jurors from seeing evidence that is not 100% valid or accredited.

This can be linked back to this case because no one had any idea how corrupt these men were. They seemed to come from a stable family with a strong, Christian upbringing. No one in the community would have ever considered them to be murderers.

Another way it pertains to the case is for the use of the glass as valid evidence. The glass had a similar refractive quality, but it was not an exact match.