Husband arrested in connection with wife's 1978 disappearance

Cold case: husband arrested in connection to wife's 1978 disappearance

The husband of a Northern California woman missing since 1978 was arrested in Nebraska on suspicion of killing his wife and disposing of her body, authorities announced Thursday.

Deborah Owens was last seen Nov. 19, 1978, at her family’s home in Oroville, about 20 miles south of Chico, according to the Butte County Sheriff’s office.

Her husband, Marvin Gail Owens, now 62, reported her missing two days later, but she never surfaced, authorities said.

Her remains were never found, and her children and family never heard from her again, authorities said.

After an investigation by the sheriff’s cold-case unit, an arrest warrant was filed charging Marvin Owens with his wife’s murder.

He was arrested in a rural county in Nebraska and is awaiting extradition back to California.

Investigators are trying to determine whether there is any connection to the February 1978 disappearance of Essie Margarette Hiett. A waitress and bartender in Oroville, Hiett was driving home following a night shift around 2:00 a.m. on Feb. 13, 1978, and never made it home.

Her Oldsmobile Toronado was found in a ditch near her home, and some of her clothes and personal items were on the ground near her car. Hiett, who would be 84 years old if still alive, never surfaced.



7:59 a.m., Feb. 20: An earlier version of this post misidentified an Oldsmobile Toronado as a Tornado.


Anyone with information is asked to contact the Butte County Sheriff’s office at (530) 538-7671.

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