EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. - Eden Prairie police confirm human remains found in a Stearns County park over the weekend belong to Mandy Matula, an Eden Prairie woman missing more than six months.
"We finally have a conclusion that Mandy is on her way home," said Steven Matula, her younger brother.
A hiker in the Mississippi River County Park in Stearns County Saturday found a piece of buried fabric, which led police to a shallow grave that contained some of Matula's belongings, like her softball shirt and class ring.
Eden Prairie police received confirmation on Sunday from the Ramsey County Medical Examiner, who also determined Matula died from a single gunshot wound to the head.
"We believe the homicide occurred in Eden Prairie and right now David Roe is our only suspect in this case," said Eden Prairie Police Chief Rob Reynolds.
Roe, took his own life in the Eden Prairie Police parking lot before he could be questioned. He was Mandy's ex-boyfriend. Their relationship ended not long before Matula disappeared.
Police say without a suspect to arrest, they'll keep their focus on the Matula family, giving them the same care Mandy gave the community.
"I believe there is hardly a person in Eden Prairie that didn't or wasn't able to connect themselves or someone in their family to Mandy," said Reynolds, fighting tears. "My family alone had at least three different connections into Mandy."
Reynolds thanked hundreds of searchers, including the search group Minnesota United, an organization created by Steven Matula.
Hundreds helped to look for Mandy since she went missing on May 1. Several groups even searched Mississippi River Park, but with thick trees and dozens of trails, finding her proved to be a continual challenge.
Steven Matula says he will continue his mission to help other families in similar positions. He knows closure will never come, but he can offer comfort.
"It's just the feeling that she's home. We finally know where she is. It's bigger than the word closure," he said.
Wayne Matula, Mandy's father, said the family was processing the news with a mix of sorrow and joy, focusing on her memorial. Funeral services will be held at Grace Church on Nov. 9.
"(A) bunch of weight taken off my shoulders," Steven Matula said. "A lot of relief, I'm happy that Mandy can finally come home ... All you can think about is good times from now on, carry them with you wherever you go."
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