A single bullet to the head killed the Eden Prairie woman, they said.
Eden Prairie police visited Wayne and Lisa Matula’s home Sunday afternoon to tell them what they already knew in their hearts: The body found in a shallow grave Saturday was that of their only daughter, Mandy, who had been missing for almost six months.
Wayne Matula said officers told him his 24-year-old daughter had died from a single bullet to her head and that the Ramsey County medical examiner had identified the remains through dental records.
On Sunday evening, Eden Prairie Police Chief Rob Reynolds confirmed that the long search for Matula was over.
“Tonight our every thought is with the Matula family,” Reynolds said. “I believe for us and the community it is a sense of relief. Mandy was very popular in the city, so it’s something that affects the entire community.”
Matula’s father said police told him she likely died the night she disappeared. He last saw his daughter — “the love of my life” — leave the house with her ex-boyfriend, David Roe, also 24, late on May 1 without her cellphone or purse.
Neighbors down the block, near Victory Lutheran Church, reported hearing possible gunshots about 1 a.m.; an unspent bullet was found in the church parking lot.
Reynolds said that police believe Mandy Matula was killed in Eden Prairie and that Roe “is our only suspect.”
Roe killed himself the next day, shooting himself in the head while parked outside the Eden Prairie Police Department, where officers had summoned him to be questioned about Matula’s disappearance. Roe had told her family that she had gotten out of his car in a nearby park.
Her body was finally found Saturday, buried in Mississippi River County Park north of Sartell, Minn.
Friends and family members had conducted countless searches in the area near St. Cloud, where Roe had attended college for a time.
A Boy Scout leader hiking alone came across a small piece of fabric buried in the ground, which led police to the burial site. Reynolds called it an “actual excavated grave,” which police believe was dug the night Matula died.
Animals had disturbed the body, which had been wrapped in a blanket, Wayne Matula said. The clothing had disintegrated to the point that investigators couldn’t tell the color of her shirt, he added. Although her body had deteriorated to bones, Matula’s class ring and the embroidered logo of her University of Minnesota Duluth fast-pitch softball team, along with her number — 14 — were recognizable, he said.
‘Joy and sorrow’
“There’s joy and there’s sorrow,” Matula’s father said. “Joy, because we finally found her. Sorrow, because this is not the end we hoped for.”
Roe was always the primary suspect in Matula’s disappearance, especially after he shot himself, leaving a Post-it note on his car about a goodbye video for his younger brother.
“The only thing that’s hard to understand, there weren’t any clues anyplace,” Wayne Matula said. “We don’t know if he planned this … ”
His daughter had broken off her relationship with Roe, but the two remained friends and she saw him almost every day.
Wayne Matula said that in the month before his daughter disappeared, he remembers asking her three separate times, “Do you have any concerns about your safety?”