Essie Margarette Hiett

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Above: Hiett, circa 1978

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Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance

  • Missing Since: February 13, 1978 from Oroville, California
  • Classification: Endangered Missing
  • Date Of Birth: November 18, 1930
  • Age: 47 years old
  • Height and Weight: 5'5, 130 pounds
  • Distinguishing Characteristics: Caucasian female. Graying brown hair, green eyes. Hiett has pierced ears. She has a half-moon-shaped scar on her right temple near her hairline and has surgical scars on both of her legs as the result of a varicose vein removal operation. She wears a full set of dentures and wears eyeglasses with photo gray lenses. Her nicknames are Marge and/or Steele.
  • Clothing/Jewelry Description: A green blouse with a female's face imprinted on the front, a tan naugahyde jacket, white pants, pantyhose, white shoes, a Timex watch with a white metal extension band and a blue face, sterling silver earrings, and a white gold wedding ring set, which included an engagement ring with five imbedded stones and a wedding band with six imbedded stones; the total weight of the gems in the set is one karat.
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    Details of Disappearance

    Hiett worked as a waitress and bartender in downtown Oroville, California. She was last seen leaving at the end of her shift at Rusty Jack's Bar on February 13, 1978. She was driving her brown 1975 Oldsmobile Toronado. Hiett apparently never arrived home. She disappeared between 2:00 and 4:00 a.m. and has never been heard from again. That same day, her vehicle was found wrecked and abandoned in a ditch along Palermo-Honeycut Road, less than a mile from her home. Her clothes and personal belongings were scattered on the ground at the scene of the crash, but there was no sign of her.

    In 2015, authorities announced Marvin Gail Owens was a possible suspect in Hiett's case. Early that year he was charged with the murder of his wife, Deborah Owens, who disappeared in November 1978 and was never located. A photo of Marvin is posted below this case summary. In mid-March 2015, he pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter, admitting he "snapped" and strangled Deborah to death. He was sentenced to four years in prison.

    Deborah and Hiett disappeared in the same year and had mutual friends, which is what lead the police to think Marvin could have been involved in both cases. He was eventually ruled out as a suspect in Hiett's case. Investigators do have another person of interest in Hiett's disappearance, however. She has never been found and her case remains unsolved.

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    Above: Marvin Owens, circa 2015

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    Investigating Agency
    If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
    Butte County Sheriff's Office
    530-538-7434

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    Source Information
    California Attorney General's Office
    Missing in California
    NamUs
    Butte County Sheriff's Office
    News 10
    The Chico Enterprise-Record
    Action News Now
    The Oroville Mercury Register

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    Updated 6 times since October 12, 2004.

    Last updated January 8, 2016; details of disappearance updated.

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