Details of Disappearance Matthew's mother met a woman in 1983 who called herself Kathy Johnson. She was a worker at a rodeo that had stopped in Fort Smith, Arkansas. A friend of Matthew's family met her and introduced her to Matthew's mother. The baby's father was in jail at the time, and Matthew's mother needed help with child care, so she asked Johnson to stay in her Van Buren, Arkansas home for a week to watch her three children.
There was a party at Matthew's home on the night of June 9, 1983, and alcohol was served. When Matthew's mother woke up in the morning, he and Johnson were both gone and the family car, a 1973 Chevrolet Vega, was also missing. Three other children were left at the trailer, including Matthew's one-year-old sister, who shared a crib with him.
The stolen Chevrolet was found abandoned at a rest stop near Sallisaw, Oklahoma the next day. Neither Matthew nor his abductor has ever been seen again.
Johnson had told Matthew's mother she was twenty-six years old. She also said she had lost two children shortly after they were born; she said her children, had they lived, would have been nine and six years old by 1983. She may also use the first name Judy.
A composite sketch of the abductor is posted with this case summary. She's described as Caucasian and about 5'4, with blonde hair. She had a chipped or decayed front tooth, a six- to seven-inch scar on her shoulder blade, and a puncture scar six to eight inches above her right knee. She had the following tattoos: a green and yellow star or sunburst on the left side of her chest, a unicorn on her upper left arm, and the name "Kathy" with a ribbon above it on her upper right arm.
Matthew and his abductor may have traveled through Utah to California after Matthew's abduction. Authorities believe the abductor may have taken Matthew to raise him as her son. They think he's probably still alive and doesn't know his true identity.
- Van Buren Police Department
Updated 8 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated April 29, 2021; age-progression updated.