Thomas Gene Trotter

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Above: Trotter, circa 1995


Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance

  • Missing Since: July 3 - July 5, 1995 from Oroville, California
  • Classification: Endangered Missing
  • Age: 34 years old
  • Height and Weight: 6'2, 190 pounds
  • Distinguishing Characteristics: Caucasian male. Brown hair, blue eyes. Trotter has a tattoo on his shoulder.
  • Clothing/Jewelry Description: Blue jeans and a t-shirt or tank top.
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    Details of Disappearance

    Trotter was last seen at his home in the 90 block of Lone Tree Road in Oroville, California sometime during the July 4 weekend in 1995. He has never been heard from again. Blood and bullet holes were found in his home after his disappearance, and his truck turned up in the hills east of Oroville. Trotter worked as a truck driver for the Chico Drain Oil Co. He left behind a young daughter who was visiting relatives when he disappeared.

    Days after his disappearance, Trotter was scheduled to testify as a witness at the spousal abuse trial of his former neighbor, Dennis Lindsey Oates. He and Oates had gotten into a fight a few days before Trotter's disappearance, and Oates accused him of having an affair with his estranged wife. A witness saw Oates packing up Trotter's pickup truck outside his home the day Trotter disappeared. Oates allegedly said he and Trotter were going camping.

    Trotter's body was never found in spite of extensive searches, but Oates was convicted of first-degree murder with a firearm in his case. He is serving 35 years to life in prison and will be eligible for parole in 2022. He has refused to reveal the location of Trotter's body. Trotter's daughter received approximately $90,000 in a wrongful death settlement against Oates. Foul play is suspected in Trotter's case due to the circumstances involved.


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


    Source Information
    The Chico Enterprise Record
    The Oroville Mercury-Register
    Unsolved in the News
    In Memory of Tom Trotter
    Butte County Sheriff's Office


    Updated 3 times since October 12, 2004.

    Last updated August 12, 2013; picture, height, weight and clothing/jewelry description added, name, distinguishing characteristics and details of disappearance updated.

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