Husband arrested in 1978 disappearance of Northern California woman

Nearly 40 years after a woman disappeared from a small Northern California town, her husband has been arrested on suspicion of killing her and disposing of the body.

Marvin Gail Owens, 62, was taken into custody in Keith County, Nebraska, on a warrant issued by officials in California. Owen's wife, Deborah, was last seen Nov. 19, 1978. in Oroville. Two days later, Owens reported his wife missing. The mother of two hasn't been seen since.

Evidence has been recovered from the couple's Oroville home, said Butte County Sheriff's Sgt. Jason Hail, who declined to elaborate. He said that investigators also conducted fresh interviews with the couple's daughters, who were raised by Owens and are now adults.

"It was important for us to talk to them about things told to them as they grew up about their mom," Hail said. "That's certainly a factor in all of this."

Owens is expected to appear Friday in a Keith County courtroom, said Hail, who hopes the suspect will soon be extradited to California to face murder charges. Hail said investigators long suspected Owens was responsible for his wife's disappearance, but not until recently were they able to issue an arrest warrant for him.

Investigators also suspect Owens in the disappearance of another woman, Essie Margarette Hiett, who vanished in the same year Owens' wife, Hail said. Hiett was last seen leaving an Oroville cardroom early in the morning of Feb. 13, 1978, where she worked as a waitress and bartender. Officials said Hiett's body has never been found.


Information from: San Francisco Chronicle,