PHILADELPHIA – When the fall term begins at Nazareth Area High School on Monday, one teacher will be conspicuous by his absence.
Matthew Greene, a popular math teacher at the school 65 miles north of Philadelphia, vanished while on a backpacking trip in California last month. Police say Greene was there to hike and climb the Eastern Sierra, a region that features extremely steep and rugged terrain, with many peaks soaring to 12,000 and 13,000 feet.
His disappearance has baffled friends and family who call Greene a highly experienced, cautious outdoorsman.
"It just doesn't seem to me that he would go out for a day hike and not return," said his sister, Tiffany Minto. "We can't visualize him getting himself into any kind of dangerous situation. He's the personality type who would just turn back if it was too dangerous."
Greene, 39, had arrived in late June to hike and climb with friends. But when his Subaru blew a head gasket, they went on with their trip while he stayed behind at a campground in Mammoth Lakes, about 260 miles east of San Francisco, to wait for repairs. The last time anybody heard from him was July 16, when he chatted with his parents back in Pennsylvania, called the repair shop and traded text messages with a friend.
Some of his gear was discovered to be missing, and several pages were torn out of his guidebook, leading to speculation that he might have headed in that direction for a hike.
Minto initially assumed her brother had some sort of accident. Now she's not so sure and wonders whether he might have been the victim of foul play. Police have said he may have hitched a ride from someone to a remote area to hike or climb.
Minto said she's thinking about hiring a private investigator "just to exhaust every possible avenue." And fundraisers are being held to pay for additional search-and-rescue efforts.