Real Name: Matthew Marshall Chase
Location: Los Angeles, California
Date: June 8, 1988
Date of Birth: April 10, 1966
Weight: 150 lbs.
Marital Status: Single
Characteristics: Caucasian male. Brown hair, brown eyes. He has a small tattoo of a dollar sign behind his right ear.
Details: Every day, thousands of people do business with their banks using an automated teller machine or ATM. It has become a normal part of our life. However, anyone standing alone in front of a bank at midnight, withdrawing cash from the automated teller, would naturally feel apprehensive. It is hard not to nervously look over your shoulder as you wait for the computer to take care of your financial business. At midnight on June 8, 1988, a young man in Los Angeles, California, visited one of these machines. What happened to him suggests our fears might be more real than imaginary.
At around 11:45pm on June 8, twenty-two-year-old Matt Chase returned home from dinner with his roommate, Teresa Dahl. When they got inside, he remembered that he had to deposit his paycheck. She lent him her car, a red two-door 1983 Volkswagen GTI, and asked if he could pick up some cat food on the way home. He had known her and her brother, Steve, since childhood. They all moved to Los Angeles from Medford, Oregon. That night, when Matt left their house, he took only his bank card with him. He left his wallet at home.
According to Teresa, it should have taken Matt between ten and fifteen minutes to run the errand. The bank was about two blocks from their home. Normally, he walked to the bank, but on that night, he took her car. She figured that fifteen minutes would have been a sufficient amount of time. It is known that Matt did arrive at the ATM that night, but he never returned home. His friends and family are still searching for him.
The next morning, when Matt still had not come home, Steve and Teresa called the police. Steve then called the bank, and by using Matt’s Social Security number, convinced them that it was Matt calling. Steve and Teresa wanted to find out if he had used his bank card the night before. The bank said he had, several times. Steve and Teresa called the police again. Detective Scott Burkhart realized that Matt’s case was not going to be a normal one; it would be one that would require in-depth investigation. He also figured that it may not turn out to be a “good case” and that foul play may be involved.
When detectives reviewed the bank records, they discovered that Matt had made a successful deposit of a paycheck and received cash back. He then returned to the same branch approximately thirty minutes later and attempted to withdraw $280, which was over the amount of cash he could receive per day. This was something that he would have known. Detectives theorized that either he was being forced to attempt to withdraw the amounts, or he was signaling to the bank and the computer for help.
That night, two more attempts were made to withdraw cash. The first was for $200; it was refused because of insufficient funds. Then, a minute later, $100 was requested. Again, as Matt’s paycheck had not posted, this amount was also refused. Eleven minutes later, the card was used at another branch in a different neighborhood. Again, the withdrawals were unsuccessful.
This time, a hidden camera took photographs of Matt. A strange man appeared in them, standing at his shoulder. According to the surveillance cameras at the branch, the man standing next to Matt was somewhat shorter, somewhat stockier, and overall, he should not have been in the photograph. Under normal circumstances, a person would not let someone stand that close to them while they are using an ATM because the other person could see their PIN number.
Police suspect that Matt may have been abducted by the man in the photograph while he was making his first transactions. Then, in an attempt to call for help, Matt may have deliberately entered erroneous amounts, hoping to attract attention. Over the next day-and-a-half, there were five more withdrawal attempts. By this time, his paycheck had cleared, so $400 was paid out from his account. Finally, the card was confiscated by the machine.
Steve and Teresa had put a freeze on the card; they figured that if they could get the card back, they could find out what bank it was used at, and possibly find out where Matt and his abductor(s) were. They also hoped that the police would be able to get fingerprints off of the card. When it was dusted for prints, none were found. Police believe that either the card was wiped clean or that Matt’s abductor used gloves.
Matt’s parents came down from Oregon to search for him and the car he drove to the bank that night. At first, they were hopeful that they would happen upon the car somewhere close to where Matt lived. However, after several nights of searching, they became very frustrated. They noted that Los Angeles can be dangerous at night and they had seen some "frightening things" while there. This made them feel that there was a good chance that something bad happened to him.
Police believed that Matt may have been injured in a mugging and was walking the streets with amnesia. Steve and Teresa distributed Matt’s picture at the Midnight Mission, a local rescue mission. Some of the volunteers there recognized him from his driver’s license picture. They said that he had been in there several times to eat. They described him as tall, thin, and lanky, which matched his description perfectly. At that point, Teresa became very hopeful that Matt was alive.
On June 27, almost three weeks after Matt’s disappearance, the car he had been driving was finally found by the police, abandoned close to where he had vanished. When the car was found, officers ran it through the SVS system, and it indicated that it was associated with a missing person. Detective Burkhart asked for the car to be held so that it could be checked for latent fingerprints. The criminalist dusted it for prints and looked at it for other evidence of a crime; however, it was completely void of fingerprints. This was very unusual, as people normally leave at least some prints while driving throughout the day.
Police did find one clue in the car: a blue bandana. It did not belong to either Matt or Teresa, and investigators believe it may have been left by Matt’s abductors. His parents fear that something bad happened to him, but they hope that he is alive and alright somewhere. Teresa also hopes and believes that he is still alive. She said that she will continue to search for him until he is found.
The pictures taken by the bank camera are mute testimony that something sinister may have happened to Matt on his midnight trip to the ATM. His friends and family have not given up hope. They want to know what happened on that June night.
Suspects: Two composites were made of the abductor, based on computer enhancements of bank photographs. The abductor was described as somewhat shorter and somewhat stockier than Matt.
A blue bandana was found in Matt's car; it had the following letters written on it: ES PBS CLS. It suggested he may have fallen victim to gang members.
- This case first aired on the December 21, 1988 episode; it was updated on the April 26, 1989 episode.
- According to TV Guide, it was originally scheduled to air on the November 23, 1988 episode, but it was postponed.
- A similar case involving an abduction from an ATM was Gretchen Burford.
Results: Solved. On September 17, 1988, three months after Matt disappeared, his remains were discovered in a ravine in nearby Pasadena. However, the Los Angeles Coroner's Office was unable to positively identify him until March 29, 1989. The identification was delayed by the difficulty in tracking down dental records. The cause of death was a gunshot wound. Detectives estimated that he had been in this canyon area since the last week in June to September 1988 when he was located. It is believed that he was killed shortly after he disappeared. The case was then classified as a robbery/homicide.
Matt's father, Frank, remained in regular contact with detectives over the years and kept his own investigative notes on the case. Sadly, on August 31, 2007, he passed away at the age of sixty-seven. After his death, Matt's sister, Kristina, took over. In 2018, detectives told her that his case had been "cleared". They determined that his killer was a twenty-year-old suspected gang member named David "Bear" Meza. Ironically, Meza himself was shot and killed in a drive-by shooting on a street corner in the Rampart area on the night of June 10, 1988, less than two days after Matt vanished. It is believed that Meza was killed by other gang members.
When interviewed by police, Meza's girlfriend identified him as the man seen in the bank surveillance photographs. Other circumstantial evidence also linked him to the crime. Although the possibility of accomplices cannot be dismissed, the case is considered closed since the main perpetrator is deceased.
- Matt Chase on Unsolved.com
- Matt Chase on Unidentified Wiki
- Justice For Matthew Marshall Chase Facebook Group
- Police Launch More Anti-Gang Sweeps; 661 Arrested 1st Night - June 12, 1988
- 750 Gang Members Arrested in 2-Night Sweeps - June 13, 1988
- SitcomsOnline Discussion of Matt Chase
- Matt Chase at Find a Grave