Documents closing Matula case offer harrowing, poignant details

  • Article by: KELLY SMITH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 12, 2014 - 6:01 AM

Killer’s final actions, shooting in church parking lot among events recounted in report.

The desperate final actions of Mandy Matula’s suicidal killer and a description of her late-night death outside an Eden Prairie church are among the details recounted in hundreds of pages of investigative documents released this week.

The documents’ release brings to a close the investigation into the 24-year-old Eden Prairie woman’s death. Her May 2013 disappearance prompted multiple searches. In late October, her body was found at a park near St. Cloud where David Roe, her ex-boyfriend and presumptive killer, often fished.

The report also gives the only answers family and friends ever expect to get via interviews, phone records and audio of Roe’s eerily calm call with police minutes before he fatally shot himself in the Eden Prairie police parking lot.

“Just listening to that conversation, you wouldn’t think anything transpired,” Mandy’s father, Wayne Matula, said after hearing Roe’s account for the first time.

Mandy Matula disappeared May 1, 2013, last seen leaving her parents’ home with Roe, who was determined to get back together with her, her family said. She was the third metro-area woman to go missing within a five-month span.

What happened in the hours leading up to her being shot and the hours after she disappeared weren’t known until now.

According to the documents, Roe applied for a permit to purchase a gun April 24, with Carver County staff noting he was nervous. He asked to pick it up, not have it mailed, on April 29. That day, he bought a .40-caliber handgun from Mills Fleet Farm in Carver and two boxes of ammo from Cabin Fever Sporting Goods in Victoria. On April 30, he practiced at Bill’s Gun Shop in Robbinsdale.

The day of the shooting

Late on May 1, Roe and Matula had a heated phone conversation. About 10:30 p.m., Mandy’s father saw her leave without her phone or purse, and sit in Roe’s car.

Roe calmly told investigators the next day that they went to Miller Park nearby and sat in the car arguing.

“There were ups and downs … you know, there were times where we were both pretty calm and there were times where we were both upset at each other … I mean, nothing out of control, no [physical violence],” he told an officer, adding about why Mandy left him at the park: “I don’t know. I mean she just said, ‘You’re annoying and you know you just keep pushing.’ Obviously I guess I was a little too pushy.

“I just threw my hands up and I said, ‘Fine, just leave,’ ” Roe said, his voice breaking.

He said he left her at Miller Park and Eden Prairie Road, arriving at his home at 2 a.m.

“I’ve been looking all morning for her,” he said, crying. When the detective asked about his state of mind and if he could drive, Roe said: “I’m all right, thank you.”

Shots fired

Phone records and witness interviews show a much different picture of the night.

About 2:30 a.m., neighbors reported hearing a “pop,” then a female scream followed by another popping sound near Victory Lutheran Church near Mandy’s house.

Later, an unfired .40-caliber bullet later confirmed to have cycled through Roe’s gun was found outside the church, leading investigators to determine that Roe shot Matula near his car. Investigators found a bullet on the car’s floor, and Mandy’s blood on Roe’s jacket and the car.

At 2:57 a.m., phone records show Roe disabled both his and Mandy’s Facebook accounts. At 3:17 a.m., he downloaded a police scanner app on his iPhone. At 3:33 a.m., he used a flashlight app on his iPhone and left Eden Prairie. At 3:54 a.m., he stopped at a Maple Grove BP to fill up on gas, shown on surveillance cameras as the only occupant.

At 5:50 a.m., his phone was tracked near the Mississippi River Park in Rice, where Roe lived in 2010-11 while studying at St. Cloud State University, and the park where he’d fish.

By 6:45 a.m., Matula’s parents reported Mandy missing.

By 7:53 a.m., Roe’s phone was detected back in Victoria, where he lived. At 9:54 a.m., he made a goodbye video for his younger brother, later leaving a Post-it note on his car asking police to give the video to his brother. And at 10 a.m., he downloaded a Bible app.

At 12:50 a.m., Roe told police he was scared and that as a criminal justice student, he knew he was a person of interest and feared being arrested.

Police followed him to the station, where surveillance cameras captured Roe putting the pistol to his head at 1:30 p.m. An autopsy determined he was extremely intoxicated.

His death and Mandy’s disappearance shocked his family and friends, one saying: “We always knew David was a little bit on edge sometimes, but realistically, we never thought he’d be capable of something like this.”

Searching across the metro

From that day on, police received numerous tips. But they remained convinced she was at Mississippi River County Park because mud in the wheel wells of Roe’s car matched park soil and his phone was tracked there. From May 3 until October, officers from multiple agencies, search experts and Matula’s brother, Steven, searched there. Nothing was found.

On Oct. 26, a Sartell man hiking in the woods noticed a blanket sticking out of the ground. In a shallow grave, Matula’s body had been wrapped in the blanket, her head covered with a plastic bag, secured with duct tape. She had been shot once in the back of her head.

The remains had to be identified through dental records, but authorities knew immediately it was Matula. She wore a sweatshirt embroidered with the emblem of her alma mater, the University of Minnesota Duluth. Also in the grave was an Eden Prairie High School class ring with engravings: “2007” and “Mandy.”

That discovery, and now the documents’ release, answers many questions about what happened. But for family and friends, like those of so many domestic violence victims, there is no true answer to the question of why.

 

Kelly Smith • 612-673-4141

Twitter: @kellystrib

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