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NY Troopers: Rachael Mattice Case Closed

Composite photo by Dave Lucas

Investigators are trying to determine why 24-year-old Rachael Mattice made up an abduction story that touched off a social media campaign for her safe return along with a multi-agency search and rescue effort.

Mattice claimed she was kidnapped in late June and held against her will. Her car was found abandoned at the family campground in Hamilton County, relatives posting on Facebook “her car and camp door were found wide open. Her car was left on/ran out of gas. Her phone and purse were in the car. It is believed that she was abducted. She is not the type to just disappear. Her friends and family are very worried about her!”

The search was on across Fulton and Hamilton counties: K-9 teams and aviation units swept the Adirondacks.  There were gatherings and vigils along with nationwide news coverage that even commanded the attention of recording star Shania Twain. Photographs Mattice had posted of herself on Facebook appeared on fliers, in newspapers, magazines and television screens.

On July 6th, Mattice resurfaced a few blocks from her Johnstown home, saying she had been abducted by a long-bearded white man in his late 50’s.  She also said she was locked in a shed, blindfolded, bound, and assaulted during her two-week disappearance.  She told investigators she escaped by jumping from a car and running to her mother’s Johnstown house.

The story soon began to crumble. A witness contacted police on July 18th, telling them he gave Rachael a lift to a Canada Lake campsite owned by her aunt's boyfriend, a place investigators say Rachael was quite familiar with.  Two hikers reportedly verified the driver’s account.

Mattice gave herself up to authorities on Friday. Major William Keeler of the New York State Police: "The Rachael Mattice case has been closed by the arrest of Rachael Mattice."

At a press conference in Latham Saturday morning,  carried by Time Warner Cable News, New York State Police and Hamilton County officials announced Mattice had been slapped with a misdemeanor charge of falsely reporting an incident.

Hamilton County Sheriff Karl Abrams says that prior to her disappearance, Mattice was the subject of a drug investigation involving the theft of prescription medication, and some speculate that's why she fled. "She was under investigation, which is still pending. We have a meeting with our Hamilton County D.A. next week at some time. But at this point, there are no charges yet and we have to consult the D.A. what course she wants to pursue."
Keeler adds police are using "electronic evidence" as they continue to figure out what Mattice was doing during the time she was "missing."  He says the man depicted in a sketch of her alleged kidnapper "does not exist."  "Nothing she said happened. It was all made up."

For now, Mattice is sticking with her tale of abduction. New York State Police Chief Investigator Jeff Ullman:  "She says she was held continuously between the 23rd and the 6th and we have this witness and we have other evidence that will show that that is not the case."

Nonetheless, Mattice's mother Wendy told News10 that the bearded man has been watching her daughter for a long time and "knew her every move." And she'll be speaking with an attorney to shore up a legal case.

Meantime, authorities involved in the search and rescue effort continue to calculate the cost, said to be in the six figures. The New York State Police had no one available to comment on Monday.   

Mattice is due to appear in Mayfield Town Court August 9th. She could face a year in jail and a fine of $1,000.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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