Crime - Sacto 911

Search area to be expanded in hunt for missing El Dorado hiker

The continuing search for a University of California, Berkeley, student missing in rural El Dorado County resulted in no new developments Tuesday, county sheriff’s officials said.

Investigators were following up on reported possible sightings of 23-year-old Vernon “Cody” Matthews in urban areas outside the area being covered by search and rescue teams, and personnel from Contra Costa and Nevada counties assisted in the search. As the day progressed, approximately 135 people, in addition to investigative personnel purusing leads outside the geographical search area, were involved in the effort to locate Matthews, according to a Sheirff’s Office news release.

“It’s a tough one,” said Lt. Tim Becker with the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office. “We really don’t know what happened. We just need to keep searching all possible areas.”

Searchers sought to cover more ground Tuesday. Sheriff’s officials said the search area would be expanded to the north on Wednesday.

“There are tracks, but they don’t know for sure whose tracks they are,” said Becker. “We don’t know what he was wearing or what type of shoes he may have had on. We’ve had all kinds of reports, even that he might have seen barefoot on the roadway.”

Matthews, a senior majoring in anthropology, was dropped off at his family cabin on June 4 in the Eldorado National Forest. His mother spoke with him by telephone on Friday before he was to leave for a hike alone.

He has not been heard from since.

The El Dorado County Sheriff's Office received a call Saturday evening from Matthews’ parents, who told deputies that they were concerned. Deputies went to the family's cabin in the Icehouse area where Cody had been staying by himself.

He had no vehicle, and his personal belongings were still in the cabin. His cellphone had not been used since Friday.

Search and rescue teams looked for Matthews all day Monday. Dog-tracking teams, mounted searchers, off-road vehicles and hiking personnel joined in the search.

The U.S. Forest Service had patrol units involved, and a California Highway Patrol aircraft was searching from above.

On June 2, Cody borrowed a car from a relative and moved all his belongings from a one-bedroom apartment in Berkeley to the family's Ice House cabin for the summer.

When he got to the cabin he found it ransacked by burglars. Matthews still moved his belongings into the cabin, and returned the car to the relative the same day.

Cody asked the same relative to drop him off at the cabin on Wednesday. The family last heard from him about 3 p.m. Friday when he called his mother, Cyndi Matthews, 55, to find a compass he wanted to take on a hike.

Matthews didn’t call that night, although a signal was detected from his cellphone about 6:30 p.m. Friday, south of the cabin near the south fork of the American River.

Anyone with information is asked to call the El Dorado County sheriff's dispatch center at (530) 621-6600.

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