by Dennis Dalman
A tragic six-month-long mystery was finally solved on the afternoon of Oct. 26 after a hiking Boy Scout leader discovered a body in Mississippi River County Park five miles north of Sartell.
The body, which had been buried in a shallow grave, was later identified by the Ramsey County coroner as that of Mandy Marie Matula, a 24-year-old woman from Eden Prairie who had been missing since May 2. The coroner also determined Matula most likely died of a gunshot wound to the head.
Although the body, which had been wrapped in a blanket, had decayed to skeletal remains, authorities found an Eden Prairie High School class ring with the body as well as a decayed but readable pullover with the words still visible: “University of Minnesota Duluth Fastpitch #14.” A positive identification was made Oct. 27 through a check of dental records.
A memorial service is slated for Nov. 9 in Matula’s home town, Eden Prairie, a city in south Stearns County.
The man who allegedly killed her, David Marshall Roe of Victoria, shot himself in the head May 3, the day after Matula was reported missing, while he was in his car in the parking lot of the Eden Prairie Police Department. Roe had been summoned by the police that day to answer some questions. After shooting himself, he was taken to the Hennepin County Medical Center, where he died. A handwritten note was found in his car notifying police to check his cell phone, on which he had left a farewell message to his family.
Matula was the object of a massive hunt by friends, family and strangers. Last summer, they searched many areas, including parks in the St. Cloud and ones between Sartell and Rice. Matula’s brother, Steven, was instrumental in leading the searches and in distributing thousands of “missing person” flyers.
According to law enforcement reports and comments on Steven Matula’s Facebook, the following is an account of what led to Matula’s death.
Matula is the only daughter of Wayne and Lisa Matula of Eden Prairie.
Matula and Roe had been dating, but the relationship was broken off, although they remained friends. Both graduated from Eden Prairie High School in 2007. Both were very athletic. He played football in high school and later for the College of St. Thomas. She was a softball-baseball fan and played outfielder and pitcher for the University of Minnesota, Duluth, from 2008-11. In the months before her death, Matula had been enrolled at St. Cloud State University.
On the night of May 1, at about 11 p.m., Roe stopped at Matula’s parents home, and she and Roe left in his car. The next morning, Matula did not report for work at her job as a park-maintenance worker for the City of Eden Prairie. Her parents called the police.
Later that night, after 1 a.m., some neighbors not too far from the Matula residence reported hearing what they thought was a gunshot. An unfired bullet was found in the parking lot of a Lutheran church in that area, although it has not been definitely linked to the Matula case.
According to Steven Matula and others, Roe had purchased a handgun just a week before Matula disappeared.
All who knew Roe, including Matula’s family, described him to the media as a very nice young man who did not seem to have any sort of mean streak in him.
While investigating Matula’s disappearance, Roe immediately became a prime suspect. Police traced the pings from his cell phone to the greater St. Cloud area, and that is why this area became the focus of so many searches throughout the summer.
The Matula family members, though in grief, have reported to the media a sense of closure, relieved that they know Mandy’s fate and can finally give their loved one a proper burial.
Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.