Missing Rice University Student’s Car Found in West Berkeley

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Monday June 16, 2008 - 04:58:00 PM

The Berkeley Police Department is helping Houston police investigate the disappearance of a 21-year-old student who has been missing since Dec. 15 from his off-campus Houston apartment, authorities said Friday. 

Computer science major Matthew J. Wilson, a junior at Rice University in Houston, Texas, was last seen working in his room by his roommate Elliot Harwell on Dec. 14. 

His car and backpack were also missing. 

Berkeley police became involved in Wilson’s case when officers found his 2004 silver Dodge Neon in the 1200 block of Allston Way in West Berkeley on June 10. 

According to Berkeley Police Department spokesperson Officer Andrew Frankel, a West Berkeley resident alerted the Berkeley police about an abandoned auto on May 10. 

“We marked the car and did a follow up 30 days later and saw that the car was still there,” Officer Frankel said. “We ran a license check and learned that the car belonged to Matthew Wilson of Texas. At that point we leant that Matthew was missing since December.” 

Frankel said detectives had found no sign of foul play in the car to indicate any criminal activity. 

Frankel said the police was not sharing information about the contents found in the car, but that it had been found locked and covered with dust. 

“It looked like it had been parked there for a while,” he said.  

Frankel said police were not ruling out that Wilson took off in his car on his own accord from Texas and drove to Berkeley. 

“We are encouraging anyone who has seen Wilson to let us know,” he said. “We are splashing his pictures in the media and trying to get the word out. It’s possible that he is alive and well, and if that is the case, it’s important that he knows that his family wants to hear from him.” 

According to police reports, although no evidence of foul play has been found so far, Wilson’s family members believe he was unlikely to leave in the middle of his finals without communicating with them. 

Family and friends described him as a diligent student who was valedictorian at his high school in Oklahoma and an honor role student at Rice. 

Wilson reportedly made a $400 cash withdrawal from his bank account on Dec. 14, the day he was last seen 

Wilson’s family, Rice University and Crime Stoppers of Berkeley are offering $25,000 in reward money for information on Wilson’s disappearance or his whereabouts. 

Wilson, who is from Haworth, Okla., was described in police reports as a white male, weighing 135 lbs., 5-feet seven-inches tall, with red hair and green eyes. 

He wears glasses and had a full beard when his roommate last saw him. 

Anyone with information about Wilson’s case can call the Rice University Police Department at (713) 348-6000, Houston Crime Stoppers (713) 222-TIPS or the Berkeley Police Department at 981-5900 or 981-5741.