Details of Disappearance
Herman was last seen on October 27, 2000. He lived on a 384-acre dairy farm in the 1300 block of County Route 10 in Laurens, New York. He has never been heard from again. He was not reported missing until May 2005, four and a half years later.
Herman got divorced in the 1990s. He ran his farm together with his son, Matthew Arbas. According to Herman's brother, Herman had become increasingly paranoid over the years and believed the FBI was spying on him. His brother theorized Herman suffered from mental illness and went into hiding to get away from the perceived government surveillance.
A photo of Matthew is posted with this case summary. He told the neighbors that Herman had become a truck driver, but police later found out that this was not true. He admitted he and his father didn't get along. Matthew filed suit in August 2000, seeking co-ownership of the farm, but Herman didn't want to give it up.
The last time Herman was seen in public was on October 27, 2000; he was last seen leaving a local eye care facility. He had an appointment with his attorney the next day, but Matthew called the lawyer and canceled. Matthew ran the farm by himself for a time after his father's disappearance, but he sold the last family herd in 2004.
Matthew was arrested and charged with an unrelated kidnapping and assault in 2005; he attacked a man whom he thought was having an affair with his wife. He pleaded guilty to abduction and unlawful wounding and was sentenced to six years in prison, with all but one year suspended. This was in Virginia Beach, Virgina, where Matthew had moved with his family after Herman's disappearance.
While awaiting the resolution in that case, Matthew was additionally charged in New York with forgery, larcency and scheme to defraud. Authorities believe he stole $60,000 from his father's accounts by forging his signature. He started writing checks on Herman's account in early November 2000. In 2002 and 2003 he also visited banks disguised as his father, which caused confusion as to just when Herman disappeared.
The indictment was dismissed due to a technical problem, but Matthew was re-indicted in August 2009. In February 2010, he was found guilty of three counts of forgery. He was sentenced to six to eighteen years in prison. None of the charges are connected to Herman's disappearance.
Authorities believe Herman disappeared under suspicious circumstances. They have searched his property three times but found no trace of him. Herman's relatives said he often went for long periods without contacting them. He is described as a quiet, reclusive and hardworking man. He has five children and divorced from his wife in 1996; she is now deceased. His case remains unsolved.