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Officials Paint 'The Count' as Killer With Grisly Quirks

September 20, 1987|GREG BRAXTON | Times Staff Writer

Matthews then tied her to a tree with one rope around her neck and went to get a lantern. He soon heard her squeal and ran back to see that Mather had slipped down the muddy hillside. He was crying as he tried unsuccessfully to untie her. Mather stopped breathing, and Matthews blacked out, then woke up and ran down the hillside to a friend's house and "went to sleep crying."

He later went back up to the hillside and covered Mather with dirt and sticks, cleaned up the campsite and left.

A few weeks later, he returned with a shovel to the campsite, where he again tried to untie Mather and bury her. He was arrested when police saw him coming down the hill with the shovel and lantern.

2 Women Testify

The two women who said they were raped by Matthews in 1984 testified at the preliminary hearing in March.

One said she had accompanied Matthews to his campsite after he met her on Sunset Boulevard one night in October that year. He had said he was going to take her to a party.

When they got to his tent, she said, Matthews put handcuffs on her. He also put chains around her ankles and raped her repeatedly before releasing her, she said. Matthews was acquitted of rape in that case.

The second woman, whom Matthews was convicted of raping, said she had also met Matthews on the Sunset Strip and had accompanied him to Coldwater Canyon. She said he told her they had to take a shortcut to get to the house he shared with Nancy Sinatra.

They arrived at the campsite and Matthews began choking her, she testified. She said Matthews tied her up and raped her repeatedly, and that he threatened to kill her with a machete sticking in the ground nearby.

The woman said Matthews later released her, and she ran away.

Betty Mather said she had heard about the other assaults but does not understand how Matthews could have attacked her daughter. "She was very strong and very athletic," she said. "Lisa could have decked the average guy. And she would not have wandered off with a strange guy."

Betty Mather said she is also anxious about the ordeal of the upcoming trial. "I would like to . . . get this all behind me, but I don't know how long it will take. I just try and survive every day."

Although she cries often, Betty Mather said she still feels numb. "I'm still waiting to get so angry I could punch him for what he did to my baby. But I can't. I still would like to have 20 minutes alone with him, just so I could ask why he did what he did."

During the preliminary hearing, she said, Matthews' mother approached her outside the courtroom and hugged her.

"I remember it like it was yesterday," she said. "She said, 'Can you please find it in your heart to forgive him?' I put my arms around her and said, 'My heart goes out to you, but I can't forgive him. You can see your son every day. I will never see my daughter again.' "

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