Deborah Diane Owens

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Above Images: Deborah, circa 1979


Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance

  • Missing Since: November 19, 1978 from Oroville, California
  • Classification: Endangered Missing
  • Date of Birth: May 1, 1955
  • Age: 24 years old
  • Height and Weight: 5'0, 100 pounds
  • Distinguishing Characteristics: Caucasian female. Blonde hair, blue eyes. Deborah has a scar on her abdomen. Her nickname is Debbie and some accounts spell her name "Debora."
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    Details of Disappearance

    Deborah was last seen by her husband, Marvin Gail Owens, at their residence in the 5300 block of Crestridge Drive in Oroville, California at 8:30 a.m. on November 19, 1978. She has never been heard from again. She had a history of dropping out of sight, but she was never away for very long and always kept in touch with her two daughters. Later, Marvin told people she had been found safe; this was untrue. The police were under the impression that Deborah had been located and it wasn't until ten years after her disappearance that her family contacted them and told them otherwise.

    Deborah never took off her wedding rings and she had been seen wearing them shortly before she disappeared. In 1989, when the police got a search warrant for Marvin's residence, they found the rings inside. They also located a pair of roller skates he said she had taken with her when she vanished.

    Marvin moved to Ogallala, Nebraska after his wife's disappearance; a photo of him is posted below this case summary. In February 2015, he was arrested and charged with Deborah's murder. Their marriage had been troubled and he had long been a suspect in her disappearance. Authorities looked into the possibility that he was involved in the case of Essie Hiett, who vanished from Oroville in February 1978. Deborah and Hiett had some mutual friends and they disappeared in the same year. Marvin was eventually ruled out as a suspect in Hiett's case. In mid-March 2015, he pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter, admitted he "snapped" and strangled Deborah to death during an argument. He was sentenced to four years in prison, the maximum term possible for voluntary manslaughter in 1978. He stated he buried her body in a shallow grave in the Oroville Wildlife Area. Four major excavations have turned up no evidence, however.

    Deborah has never been found; Marvin said he buried it in the Oroville Wildlife Area, but wasn't able to pinpoint exactly where. Foul play is suspected due to the circumstances involved.

    Above: Marvin Owens, circa 2015


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


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


    Updated 5 times since October 12, 2004.

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

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