Missing 6-month-old Ember Graham; Father killed in shootout with police

July 15, 2015

Ember Graham

There’s been a lot of action lately in the case of missing 6-month-old Ember Skye Graham from Happy Valley, California, but nothing has led investigators any closer to finding her.

Ember was reported missing at 5:26 AM on July 2, 2015, by her father, who allegedly noticed she was missing from her crib. He told police he had put her to bed and then fallen asleep after smoking marijuana.

Ember’s parents were both questioned at length by police and shortly after, investigators publicly named 24-year-old Matthew Graham, Ember’s father, a person of interest in her disappearance. He was taken into custody for suspicion of violating his probation, stemming from prior DUI and forgery charges. From Redding.com:

During questioning, Matthew gave investigators information that he took medication that had not been disclosed to his probation officer, which is a violation of conditions…

Matthew was released from custody, however, shortly after a court appearance.

Police released a photo last week of a pickup truck owned by Matthew and asked the public if anyone saw the truck in the area of Clear Creek Road during the evening hours of Wednesday, July 1, the day before Ember was reported missing. As for why Matthew was considered a person of interest, police released the following press release to the media:

“From the onset of this case the Sheriff’s Office Major Crimes Unit has been investigating the incident. On day one numerous law enforcement agencies that make up the CART team (Child Abduction Response Team) descended on the area and conducted door to door canvassing of the neighborhood and surrounding areas developing no viable leads as to Ember’s whereabouts. The Sheriff’s Office Major Crimes Unit has investigated this case from all angles. At this time we have not found any credible evidence supporting Matthew Graham’s account that Ember was abducted by a stranger or by anyone else.

Matthew came voluntarily to the Sheriff’s Office on day one to be interviewed. Immediately investigators began to find several inconstancies in his statement during routine questioning of events leading up to the time of Ember’s missing report. Matthew showed very little remorse for the disappearance of his daughter. At no time during the eight plus hours that he was with detectives did he ever inquire what was being done to find her. He also refused to submit to a CVSA (Computer Voice Stress Analysis) exam to help rule himself out as a participant in his daughter’s disappearance. He offered little to no assistance to investigators to help clear himself. During the course of the investigation video surveillance was obtained from the Happy Stop Market near the corner of Oak Street and Cloverdale Ln in Happy Valley. The surveillance showed Matthew arriving with Ember not fastened in a safety seat, as he took her into the store and pumps fuel. He then drove out the parking lot heading westbound on Cloverdale Ln in the opposite direction from his home.

Matthew told detectives that he was taking a drive to get Ember to fall asleep. Keeping in mind the sweltering temperatures that day, and that his vehicle is not equipped with air conditioning the child would not likely fall asleep under those conditions. Matthew was adamant that he drove to the intersection of Clear Creek Rd and Cloverdale Ln, completed a U-turn and drove back home. Investigators took Matthew to the location and drove the route. The round trip from the Happy Stop Market and back took approximately 8 minutes under normal driving speeds.

Matthew said he did not stop and did not have any vehicle problems while on this trip. He agreed that it only took under 10 minutes to complete the drive.

What Matthew didn’t know prior to making that statement is that detectives had video surveillance showing he left the Happy Stop Market and also video of him driving back by over an hour later. When he was shown this he immediately said he didn’t think it was that long and then could not remember what he did or where he went during that hour. When detectives pressed him to remember, he asked to speak with a lawyer before any further questioning. This is one of many inconstancies in Matthews’s statement.

When investigating the possibility that a third party could have abducted Ember as Matthew has stated, detectives have considered several facts. Matthew was keeping Ember in an approximate 25 foot camp trailer on the Noosha Ln property. The trailer has no running water or working bathroom. The sewage from the main residence flows into a cesspool and the property is covered in garbage and old vehicles. The property is cross fenced and you have to go through two gates and guard dogs that will bark and confront strangers. The trailer door leading to Ember’s playpen where Matthew said she was sleeping has a broken door handle mechanism and needs to be opened with a screwdriver or similar tool. You would also need to have some knowledge on how to operate the door. Crime scene technicians found the door to be difficult to open and close as it did not fit in the frame well and made noise opening and closing. According to Matthew, Ember would cry within 10 seconds of being picked up by a stranger.

When Matthew said he laid Ember down it was so hot that he only had her sleeping in a diaper. He said he had a swamp cooler on which would mask noise however later said it was so “chilly” that he turned it off prior to going to sleep. Records indicate the outside temperature was over 90 degrees around the time he said he went to sleep. Due to Ember’s medical conditions she does not sleep consistently and needs to be fed every two hours. Matthew said he went to sleep around 2230 hours, and did not wake up until around 0530 hours. He later told detectives that he passed out and had been smoking “wax” marijuana honey oil all night.

Ember has special medical needs. She is prone to having seizures and takes medicine twice a day to control them. The medication does not make her tired or sleepy, but rather it makes her restless so that she never really goes into REM sleep. Due to the medication, Ember is a very restless sleeper, is constantly flailing around, and wakes up at night about every 2 hours to eat.

As of this date, Matthew Graham is still considered as a Person of Interest into the disappearance of Ember Graham. Detectives with the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office, Major Crimes Unit continue to follow up on leads and are continuing to investigate the circumstances surrounding Ember’s disappearance as to Matthew Graham’s involvement as well as any information of a third party abduction.”

The case took an even odder turn last week, when on Saturday, July 11, Matthew allegedly stole cash and a pistol from his mother and went on the run after failing to meet with his probation officer. The manhunt ended on Monday, July 13, when Matthew was shot and killed by officers after allegedly carjacking a vehicle in Shasta County. From KRCR News:

Law enforcement authorities were alerted to a vehicle that was carjacked in the Shasta County area by gunpoint early Monday morning. The vehicle was spotted traveling north on Interstate 5.

Deputies report additional officers were put into position because the suspect involved in the carjacking was reported to be “armed and dangerous.” Authorities pursued the vehicle to a residential area in the South Dunsmuir area, off Katherine Street.

Officers say Graham fled the vehicle and ran toward a residence in that area. Shots were exchanged between Graham and officers who were attempting to take him into custody. The firearm exchange ultimately resulted in Graham being fatally wounded.

Matthew’s family seems to still be standing by him, even though going on the run with a handgun might seem like guilty behavior to a lot of people.

Police say they still don’t know where Ember is, or what happened to her. The fear is that with the death of Matthew, we may never know.

Anyone with information about Ember Graham is asked to call the sheriff’s Major Crimes Unit at 245-6135 or Sheriff’s Records at 245-6025. Information can also be sent to the Sheriff’s Major Crimes Unit email address: mcu@co.shasta.ca.us. There is currently a $10,000 reward.

Read More:

Deputies search for baby reported missing from crib
Sheriff’s officials investigating baby’s disappearance
Deputies confirm Matthew Graham killed in Dunsmuir shooting
Father of missing Baby Ember shot, killed in Northern California

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