Investigation, searches yield no clues to Eden Prairie woman's whereabouts

Searches for Mandy Matula, who disappeared Thursday before a man she was breaking up with shot himself, ended for the night in frustration.

A grim search in the sleet ended in frustration Friday night for volunteers hoping to find Mandy Matula.

Some of the 200 or so searchers who trudged through Eden Prairie parks and open spaces clung to fading hopes that the 24-year-old woman lay injured somewhere, but her younger brother, Steven Matula, conceded that police had told them they were looking for a body.

He pledged they would be back again Saturday morning. “She wouldn’t be giving up on me,” he said.

David M. Roe, who shot himself in the head outside the Eden Prairie police station Thursday before police could question him about Matula’s disappearance, remained at Hennepin County Medical Center Friday night. No information was being released on his condition, other than that he was unable to talk with investigators.

Steven Matula said his sister and Roe, both 24, had been dating off and on for several months. Their first breakup came in August, but Roe kept trying to get back together, Steven Matula said.

Wednesday night, Mandy Matula had been at her family’s home in Eden Prairie. Her father, Wayne, was downstairs watching television about 11, when he heard Mandy call good night, her brother said.

“I’m going to bed, Dad,” she told him. “I love you.”

But soon family members heard her arguing with Roe on the phone, and she went outside to Roe’s Ford Escape when he pulled up, Steven Matula said.

“They took off, with us assuming they would go resolve it, and that’s all we knew,” he said.

His sister left behind her cellphone, keys and purse. She was last seen with Roe, police said, at Miller Park in Eden Prairie. She never showed up for the job she loved as a seasonal maintenance worker for the city of Eden Prairie Thursday morning. Her parents called police at 8:30 a.m.

Authorities searched for much of the day Thursday without success, including sending Hennepin County sheriff’s divers into Mitchell and Round Lakes.

On Friday, Steven Matula, 21, put out a call on Facebook. Friends, relatives and strangers turned out at 5 p.m. to search nearby parks and open spaces,

“Two hundred people — I didn’t expect this,” Steven Matula said at Miller Park. “I’m just blown away by all the support she had. It puts a little more faith in humanity in this day and age.”

Among those who came to help was Kris Terp, 47, who recruited searchers from his Eden Prairie Bible study group. He didn’t know the Matula family but wanted to come help, Terp said. He brought his 15-year-old son, Dalton, to help search Birch Island before they told Steven Matula that they were heading over to Carver Park Reserve, near Roe’s home in Victoria, to search there.

“That’s the least anyone could do,” Terp said. “You wouldn’t want your kid lying out there.”

As darkness brought the organized search to a close Friday, Steven Matula issued a plea to everyone in the community to check dumpsters, under tarps, “anywhere where a body might be hidden.”

He also said police have told him that cellphone records indicate Roe was driving on I-94 in the St. Cloud area early Thursday morning and that some volunteers will head to that area Saturday. Most searchers, however, will be asked to continue to search the Eden Prairie neighborhood where his sister disappeared, Steven Matula said. Mandy Matula and Roe graduated in 2007 from Eden Prairie High School, where they were both outstanding athletes. Friends said that they do not believe the two were in a relationship during high school.

Steven Matula said that Roe had “never laid a finger” on Mandy during their entire relationship. He described her as a strong woman who wouldn’t put up with anyone “giving her lip.”

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