FALCON HEIGHTS, Minn. (KMSP) - The family of Mandy Matula, the 24-year-old Eden Prairie, Minnesota woman whose body was found in a shallow grave in 2013, is marking five years without her in their own unique way: they have purchased a memorial bench at the Minnesota State Fair - one of Mandy’s favorite traditions.
The yellow bench - which can be found on the corner of Dan Patch Avenue & Cooper Street - bears Mandy's name and a photo.
The family is urging people to find the bench, take a fun photo and share the special moment to keep her spirit alive. The bench is not bolted to the ground, so it can be moved throughout Matula's beloved fairgrounds.
“When we went to the fair, we got there at 6 a.m. and we stayed until midnight,” Wayne Matula, Mandy’s father, said. “It was a family tradition. Mandy fell in love with the Fair.”
Mandy disappeared from her family’s home in Eden Prairie in May 2013. She was last seen getting into the car of her ex-boyfriend. Investigators believe he killed Mandy and buried her body in a shallow grave near St. Cloud.
Her ex-boyfriend died by suicide in the days following her disappearance.
The Matula family searched for months before her remains were found and they got the chance to say a proper goodbye.
Even after five years, the pain and the grief of losing their daughter remains a constant.
“She’s my daughter so I have to. [I] definitely miss her,” Wayne said. “It’s part of my life that is missing.”
On Tuesday, Wayne’s thoughts were with the family of missing University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts after authorities announced her body has been found.
”What they’ve gone through is the same thing we’ve gone through,” Wayne said. “There’s no reconciliation for it. It happens. You are just stuck with it. You live it.”