Historic missing person case

Tasmania Police is actively investigating new information in relation to the disappearance of a man from the Tasman Peninsula 31 years ago.

Police have been joined by Mr Mattathyahu’s family members in appealing for more information ahead of a Coronial Inquest to be held in two weeks’ time (15 & 16 December).

Judah Zachariah Rueben Wolfe Mattathyahu (Born 27 July 1934) was last seen alive on 12 November 1983, at a property at Black Jack Road, Slopen Main, on the Tasman Peninsula. At that time, Mr Mattathyahu lived alone in a hut on a farming property.

On Friday 11 November 1983, Mr Mattathyahu made arrangements with friends to be transported from Slopen Main to Huonville on Saturday 12 November 1983. At 9.30pm on the Saturday evening a friend arrived at Slopen Main to collect him, but there was no sign of Mr Mattathyahu.

Mr Mattathyahu has not been seen since. He has not accessed bank accounts nor contacted friends or family.

Although it was considered unusual that Mr Mattathyahu was not at Slopen Main at the arranged pick-up time, it was not, given his lifestyle, initially suspected by his associates that his disappearance was unusual.

Given his nomadic lifestyle and the fact he had no family residing in Australia; it wasn’t until 4 March 1984 that Mr Mattathyahu was reported missing by friends. His disappearance was investigated as a Missing Person investigation.

Investigations at that time included a series of extensive searches in the vicinity of his residence and interviewing known friends and associates. No further evidence as to the fate of Mr Mattathyahu was discovered.

Recently, Police investigations have uncovered new information about the case that is central to the investigation.

“We can’t release details about the information, however it does relate to a person of interest in the disappearance of Mr Mattathyahu,” said Detective Senior Sergeant Richardson.

“There has been a wall of silence surrounding this case. Someone knows something, and the family members or friends of that person may have suspicions or information. We are appealing to those people to contact us.”

Police have also identified relatives, including his ex-wife in the U.K. and half-brothers in Australia, who want to know what happened to Mr Mattathyahu. Mr Mattathyahu’s mother recently died in the U.K. aged 93.

“Every day for the past 31 years, Elsie waited for her son to make contact, but she died this year never knowing what happened to him,” said Mr Mattathyahu’s ex-wife, Liz Glenday.

On behalf of the family, one of Mr Mattathyahu’s half-brothers said:

“In our endeavours to find our half-brother Tony Harris, (Judah Zachariah Rueben Wolfe Mattathyahu) who we last saw in 1961, our family have spent many hours sieving through a world of information pursuing his last known travels or whereabouts only to end up in Tasmania following a man who had changed his name several times and also his faith. It seems we have now come very close to the answer and although he was last seen alive in 1983, we as a family would love to have some sort of final closure that would help us piece together the last chapter of his life. We therefore ask that the public come forward if they have any information on Tony that could help the police and draw this long time search to its rightful conclusion.”

• A Coronial Inquest will be held in Hobart into the circumstances of the disappearance of Mr Mattathyahu on 15 and 16 December 2014.
• Police seek information via Crime Stoppers 1800 333 000 from anyone who may have any knowledge of the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of Mr Mattathyahu.

Background to Mr Mattathyahu

Mr Mattathyahu, who was aged 49 at the time he went missing, was born in the United Kingdom. His birth name was Tony Zachary Harris and may have been known by this name or similar when living in Tasmania. He arrived in Australia in 1973.

Mr Mattathyahu lived a fairly nomadic life style, and regularly travelled to various parts of Australia where he would live and work on a casual basis. He predominantly kept to himself and usually lived alone.

He did not appear to have regular work or an occupation, but rather he would seek employment as required to maintain the income to lead a relatively simple lifestyle.

In the time leading up to his disappearance his employment was described as a ‘bushman’ in the forestry industry. Between 1976 and 1977 Mr Mattathyahu worked in logging operations on the Tasman Peninsula and Huon Valley areas. At the conclusion of this employment he worked for another forestry contractor in the Maydena area.

Around 1981, Mr Mattathyahu was employed in the Table Mountain (Central Highlands) area. Between April and June 1982 Mr Mattathyahu was working for a forestry contractor on a property at Slopen Main on the Tasman Peninsula.

Mr Mattathyahu didn’t own a car nor did he have an Australian drivers licence. He appears to have been entirely reliant upon friends and associates for his travel requirements.

In addition to his birth name, Tony Zachary Harris, Mr Mattathyahu was known by a number of variations to the spelling of his surname, also by the surname MATTAHIAS, and by the Christian names, Judah, Karl, Ruben and Zac. He may also have been known to some persons as Karl or Ruben WOLFE.