As a missing Eden Prairie woman’s brother led volunteers on a search for her body, police scoured evidence Monday and worked to reconstruct the final days of Mandy Matula and her boyfriend.
Police sought any whiff of a clue about where to focus their search, while Matula’s brother, Steven, gathered volunteers just off Flying Cloud Drive south of Flying Cloud Airport.
Standing in the bed of his black pickup truck, he told a couple of dozen friends, family members and strangers to look for clothing, shoes or a body. The volunteers waded through thick, prickly brush on embankments from the road down to Grass Lake.
Steven Matula said he chose to search the area because it was secluded. “I’m just checking this area to get it off the list,” he said between calls on his cellphone.
Police Chief Rob Reynolds praised his efforts even though law enforcement authorities were focused on scrutinizing evidence rather than searching. “Right now we don’t have anything to focus us on one place to search,” Reynolds said.
Mandy Matula, 24, who was last seen with David M. Roe about 11 p.m. Wednesday, had been trying to end their relationship. Matula’s family called police when she didn’t show up for work at 8:30 a.m. Thursday. Roe, also 24, initially described as a person of interest in the case, shot himself in the head Thursday afternoon in his car in the parking lot of police headquarters. He was pronounced dead the next day.
In the hours between when the couple was last seen and Roe drove to the police station, evidence indicates Roe did “a lot of travel in and around Eden Prairie,” including places in Carver and Stearns counties, Reynolds said.
Cartridge consistent with gun
One potential clue: an unspent cartridge found Saturday in the Victory Lutheran Church parking lot in Eden Prairie that is “consistent with what he had with him,” Reynolds said. The cartridge was the same type of round, caliber and brand as the ammunition for the gun Roe bought on April 27 in Carver County, the chief said.
Reynolds wouldn’t say where Roe bought the gun, but said the purchase was legal. Forensic tests have yet to link the cartridge to Roe and its recovery “hasn’t led” anywhere in the search for Mandy Matula, Reynolds said.
Police have been analyzing computers, phones and financial records of the couple. Nothing in those records suggests that Matula is still alive, Reynolds said.
Reynolds confirmed that Roe left a goodbye video on his cellphone for his family. The video provided no clues to investigators, he said.
The chief also confirmed that he told the family there were no bruises or scratches on Roe to indicate that he struggled with Matula. He also told them there was no evidence collected yet from Roe’s vehicle that would indicate the two struggled there.
Combing the woods
Family, friends and strangers have been searching for Matula since she disappeared.
Among the volunteers who didn’t know the Matulas was Kimberly Sisak, who was with her border collie Pippa. Sisak, 42, of Eden Prairie, was off work this week and wanted to help and get the word out about domestic violence.
She was emotional as she said she had been a victim two decades ago. “I think as women, especially young women, you don’t know what to look for” in terms of abusive relationships, she said.
Steven Matula told searchers “to be careful and be safe. I don’t want anybody to get hurt.”
He warned the searchers that if they saw something to take a picture, not touch it and mark its location.
On Monday morning, searchers looked for Matula in the Anderson Lakes area of Eden Prairie after a weekend of searches. The area is just southwest of where Interstate 494 and Highway 169 converge.
Among the volunteers was Mark Waters of Eden Prairie, who took off work for a couple of days because, he said, “some things just tug at your heartstrings.”
Waters’ 18-year-old son was acquainted with Matula. “I just told everybody at work, ‘this is my community, this is my family,’ ” he said.
Waters said it’s hard to even know what you’re looking for. “It’s the proverbial needle in the haystack and here’s my bale of hay,” Waters said. “There are no real answers. No direction except they were together and he shot himself.
Roe was a star football player at Eden Prairie High School and went on to briefly play football at the University of St. Thomas. Matula, who also graduated from Eden Prairie High School, played softball for the University of Minnesota-Duluth.
Weekend searches for two other missing women, Kira Trevino of St. Paul and Danielle Jelinek of Oakdale, didn’t turn up any new information