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These four children vanished after a house fire in 1977

Updated: Dec 23, 2021

This entry will be shorter than most. There’s not a lot of information out there about this case, but I did feel compelled to share it with everyone. Let’s talk about the disappearance of the Matory sisters, including Yolanda Williams, as well as Sir Kristopher Marshall.


In the 1960’s, Earlene Williams was married to a man named James Williams. The couple lived in Compton, California, about 17 miles south of Los Angeles (and part of Los Angeles County). They had a daughter together, Yolanda Williams, who was born on September 5, 1969. Earlene also had two children of her own: Ivy Matory was born on January 12, 1965, and her sister Violet on September 27, 1967. So Violet and Ivy were Yolanda’s half sisters.

In 1976, James Williams was charged with molestation and rape, an act he’d allegedly committed against his stepdaughter Ivy. After this, he and Earlene separated.


The night of July 20, 1977 probably started like many others in the Williams household. In addition to 32-year-old Earlene, 9-year-old Violet, 12-year-old Ivy and 7-year-old Yolanda, they had a guest staying with them that night: 3-year-old Sir Kristopher Marshall. It’s not clear what his relationship to the family was.

Around 4:30 that morning (I assume in the early hours of July 21), the house caught fire. The fire started in the childrens’ bedroom and soon engulfed the entire house. Earlene’s body was found in the front of the house, and an autopsy would later reveal she had been strangled. A trail of blood led from the house to a nearby alley, supposedly from her killer. But none of the children could be found.

Around 5:30 on the morning of July 21, James Williams was reportedly sighted with all the children at a Denny’s in Grapevine, California, just over 90 miles north of Compton. Later that day, a friend who met up with him in Riverside (which is much closer to Compton) reportedly said the kids weren’t with him.

James was questioned by police that day, but released. He denied knowing anything about Earlene’s murder or even being in the area at the time. However, he was arrested for her murder the next day.

When James was arrested, he had a cut on his hand. He said his car had broken down and he got the cut trying to repair it. But could this cut have been the cause for the trail of blood outside the Williams home?

The next month, he was also charged with the murders of all four children, even though they hadn’t been found (and he refused to say where they were). The theorized motive for these murders was that the children were set to testify against him in his upcoming molestation trial. I assume his main target was Ivy, as she was the alleged victim, and it’s possible Violet, Yolanda and Earlene were going to testify as well. Since Sir Kristopher was just three at the time and not related, he might have unfortunately been in the wrong place at the wrong time.

James did end up going on trial for murder. One source said he was convicted of Earlene’s murder. Another said two trials ended in deadlocked juries and all charges against him were ultimately dismissed. He has since died.

In 2014, Ivy’s skeletal remains were found in Corona, California, about 40 miles east of Compton. Her page on The Charley Project wasn’t updated with this information until 2019. I’m not sure if her body wasn’t identified until then, or if they just didn’t realize her body had been found, possibly due to lack of media attention.


None of the other children have ever been found. I did see one Websleuths user speculate that Ivy was killed separately because she was James’s primary target (as she was his alleged molestation victim).

I’ve also seen speculation that the St. Louis Jane Doe is Yolanda Williams. This Jane Doe was found in an abandoned building in St. Louis, Missouri in February 1983. She was a black female between 8 and 11 years old -- which would match Yolanda as well as Violet at the time of their disappearances— and had been sexually assaulted before being strangled.

The St. Louis Jane Doe wasn’t found until six years after the children went missing, and she’d only been dead for a few days when she was found. So to say her body belonged to someone who was in this age range years earlier may be a bit of a stretch. If you want to know more about the St. Louis Jane Doe, I did a full video on the case a few months ago, which you can watch here.

final info

Violet Bobbie Matory was 9 years old when she disappeared from Compton, California late July 20 or early July 21, 1977. She’s a black female, 5 feet tall and 115 pounds at the time of her disappearance, with black hair and brown eyes. She was last seen wearing a white t-shirt, blue jeans and multicolored flip flops. If she were alive today, she’d be 53 years old.

Yolanda Marie Williams was 7 years old when she disappeared. She’s a black female who was 4 feet tall and 55 pounds at the time of her disappearance, with black hair and brown eyes. She was last seen wearing a blue jumpsuit, and a few sources gave her middle name as Maria. If she were alive today, she’d be 51 years old.

Sir Kristopher Clayton Marshall was 3 years old when he went missing. He’s a biracial male who was 3 feet tall and 37 pounds at the time of his disappearance, with curly, reddish brown hair and brown eyes. He has a scar on his back, another on his right eyebrow and scar tissue on his feet and ankles. He sometimes goes by the nickname Turkey Legs. If he were alive today, he’d be 47 years old.


Like I said, there’s not a lot of information out there, but I did want to share what I could find. Now that Ivy’s body has been found, I do think there’s hope for the rest of the children being located, dead or alive, so their families can have some answers.

If you have any information about the disappearances of these children, you can contact the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department’s Homicide Division at (323) 890-5500. Be sure to reference case # 772022420.

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