In 1978 five men mysteriously disappeared in Chico, CA, on the way home from a college basketball game. A month later their car and most of their bodies were discovered in a field, frozen to death in spite of being so close to civilization. Their strange deaths have since been referred to as the American Dyatlov Pass mystery because of the similarities that it shares with the strange deaths suffered by a group of Russian skiers nearly two decades prior.
What happened to the five men who disappeared in Chico in 1978? At the time of their deaths the police weren’t able to come up with any substantial answers and with each passing year it grows harder to solve the case. Amateur investigators have attempted to find a reason behind why five men would stop their car in the middle of nowhere, run out into the snow and never look back. However each answer seems to open up an entirely new set of questions. Let's take a closer look at this bizarre and mysterious case.
A Forest Ranger Found The Car Far From Where It Should Have Been
Four days after their disappearance a forest ranger found the '69 Montego abandoned on a dirt road outside of Oroville. This would be about 26 miles away from Chico but 36 miles away from Yuba City. Oroville is to the east of Chico and definitely out of the way for anyone driving to Yuba. The place that the car was found was in the mountains of the Plumas National Forest, an area with a completely different topography than where the guys were going.
It's likely that the guys realized that they weren't close to home whenever they parked their car.
Joseph Shones Claims To Have Seen Something On The Road
The one person who was able to shine some light on the case was a man named Joseph Shones. He was on the road at the same time as the five men but managed to get his car stuck in the snow while they drove freely through the area. When Shones started to dig his car out he suffered a mild heart attack. Shones managed to get back in his car where he left the lights on and the heat going until he could get back on the road. He claims that at one point he heard a "whistling" sound and saw a woman walking by holding a baby.
Shones called for help and believes that he saw a group of people with headlights walking towards him. When he called for help again the lights went out and no one ever stopped by the car. After running out of gas he walked to town and passed the parked Montego but by that time he claims it had already been abandoned.
One Of The Men Is Still MissingPhoto: YouTube
While four of the men in the party are absolutely dead, one member of the party is still considered missing. The body of Gary Mathias was never discovered and his family believes that he may have been the cause of the entire mishap. Mathias suffered from schizophrenia but according to his family he'd been religious about taking his medication and hadn't gone "haywire" in years. There are police records of Mathias becoming violent when he failed to take his meds so there is a possibility that he forgot to take his meds and acted out, causing everyone to run off.
Along with Weiher's body in the trailer police discovered Mathias' shoes. They believe that he took Weiher's shoes, left his trainers in the trailer, and took off. While he's still believed to be missing many investigators believe that Mathias fell victim to the elements and was buried under the snow where his body decomposed before it was melted by the spring weather.
The Guys Were Trying To Visit A Friend In Forbestown
This online theory offers some insight into why the men would be running out in the snow so far away from their destination. They believe that Gary Mathias had a friend who lived in Forbestown which is why they would be traveling down the 162 East highway. The Redditor who came up with this theory notes that: "That specific highway does not connect to Chico. Nor could they have accidentally taken Highway 70 North on the way home then reconnected, as the two highways have no way to meet."
As for why they were running out in the snow the Redditor believes that they heard Shones scream and ran out into the snow to either help him out or run away. Somehow the story gets more confusing every time someone tries to explain what happened.