A transient nicknamed “The Count” because he frequented Los Angeles nightclubs wearing a black cape was sentenced to life in prison without parole Friday for the rape and murder of a woman whose remains were found on a Studio City hillside two years after she disappeared from a Sunset Strip club.
Edmund Arne Matthews, 33, was sentenced by San Fernando Superior Court Judge Ronald S. Coen, who called the 1985 slaying of 18-year-old Lisa Ann Mather of West Los Angeles a “brutal and heinous” crime.
“The jury verdict was proper and not contrary to the evidence,” Coen said, denying Matthews a new trial or a reduction in his conviction on a charge of murder under the special circumstances of rape. “All the evidence points to a willful and premeditated murder.”
Matthews showed no reaction to the sentencing. The jury that convicted him earlier this year recommended a life sentence instead of the death penalty.
The victim’s mother, Betty Mather, watched tearfully and later said justice was not served by the sentence.
“I think he should have been killed for the way he killed my child,” she said. “At least, we know he can’t do that to anyone else. . . . Hopefully, he will be in a horrible place.”
Lisa Mather was last seen by friends on Jan. 12, 1985, outside the Whisky A Go Go nightclub on Sunset Boulevard. Nearly two years later, her bones were found by a hiker near Coldwater Canyon Avenue.
Matthews became a suspect in the Mather death because he had been convicted of raping a North Hollywood woman after picking her up on the Sunset Strip and taking her to the same area where Mather’s remains were found. He was arrested for that rape two weeks after Mather disappeared, and was serving a 10-year sentence for that crime when he was accused of slaying Mather.
After he was accused of Mather’s slaying, Matthews maintained that she had voluntarily gone with him to the remote site and that she allowed him to tie a rope around her neck. He claimed she was strangled when she slipped off the muddy hillside with the rope still around her neck.
After the sentencing, Betty Mather, who has two other children, said the legal case was over but the pain of losing her daughter will never end. She decried the justice system that allowed the case to move slowly through the courts for years and that ultimately spared Matthew’s life.
“I will never have my daughter again,” she said. “His mother can still visit him, but I don’t have my daughter. I think our system is the worst.”