Details of Disappearance
In 1977, Yolanda lived in Los Angeles County, California with her mother, Earlene Williams, and her half-sisters Violet Matory and Ivy Matory. On July 20, 1977, a boy named Sir-Kristopher Marshall was spending the night in the Williams/Matory home in the 300 block of east 131st Street.
At 4:30 a.m., the house caught fire and burned to the ground. Earlene's body was found inside near the front door; she had been strangled. The children were not in the residence, though.
There was a trail of blood leading from the house down an alley, where it stopped. The bleeding person apparently got into a car there. Authorities determined the fire erupted in the room where all the children slept.
Earlene was estranged from her husband, James Williams, at the time of her death. He is Yolanda's father. They separated after James was charged with child molestation and rape in connection with a 1976 attack on Ivy. He was questioned and released the day after the fire, but arrested for murder the next day when the autopsy results proved Earlene had been a homicide victim.
James was allegedly seen with Yolanda, Marshall, Ivy and Violet at a Denny's restaurant in Grapevine, California at 5:30 a.m. on July 21, the day after their house burned down. He was picked up by friends in Riverside, California later that day, without the children.
When first questioned, James said he'd been driving to Bakersfield, California at the time of the fire, but his car broke down and he had to spend the night in it. One of his hands had a bad cut at the time of his arrest; he said he'd injured it trying to repair his car.
In August 1977, James was additionally charged with murdering the four missing children. Authorities stated the three girls were supposed to testify against him in the sexual abuse case, which was scheduled to go to court on July 21, the day before they disappeared.
James was tried twice for murder, but the jury deadlocked both times, and in July 1979, before a third trial could take place, the five murder charges against him were dismissed. He is now deceased.
In 2014, Ivy's skeletal remains were found in Corona, California, about an hour's drive east of Compton. The other children have never been located.