One Year Later Mandy Matula's Family Pushing Forward

Updated: 05/03/2014 7:09 AM By: Brandi Powell

The family of 24-year-old Mandy Matula is pushing forward.

She disappeared this time last year, her body was found five months later.

Time has a way of offering perspective.

Her brother opens up, sharing new insight on what he's learned from his sister's death, such as when to get out of a troubling romantic relationship, and, how he's able, now, to push on, keeping Mandy's vibrant, strong memory alive.

"You put a smile on your face, and you go do something with your life!" That's what Steve Matula says Mandy would tell him. One year since his big sister went missing, he's filled with pride.

"I'm just honored to be Mandy's brother, Mandy's little brother, and that's what I've known, and that's what I've grown up to be: Mandy's little brother," Steve said.

On this first anniversary of Mandy's disappearance, the Matula family drove to that Central Minnesota park, where, 7 months ago, a jogger spotted her remains.

Mandy's grave - as her family calls it - is filled with life, and love.

It was Mandy's relationship with David Roe that likely ended her life.

"Dave and Mandy were trying to break up their relationship, and that's where it kind of concluded with Dave, and he was like I don't want this happening right now, I want to be with you. And that's what Mandy didn't want," Steve Matula said.

Authorities believe Roe shot her in the head.

A year later, Mandy's family passes along words of wisdom.

"That's what I've learned from Mandy's relationship with Dave, is don't be jealous, just be carefree," Steve said. "If you see that sign of jealousy starting to rise and rise, that's gotta be a deal breaker."

Despite they're loss, the family is moving forward.

Steve Matula says he still listens to her now. She's still a voice; a presence. "Oh yeah, like last night the clouds were all purple, and so that was kind of Mandy showing, hey guys I'm here, don't forget about me. And we're not."

The Matula family is certainly not forgetting about her. Neither is the Minnesota community.

The University of Minnesota Duluth softball team, which Mandy played on, designed purple jerseys, to wear in honor of her when they retire Mandy's number -- # 14 -- next year.

The Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women - says at least 25 women died from domestic violence - last year - including Mandy.

That's the highest total - since 2001.

They say one in three women experience abuse in Minnesota.

We sat down with Women's Advocates, Inc., a women's shelter in St. Paul.

They say red flags include jealousy, control and isolation. "We have in our stomachs where we can feel that things are not quite right, and if they have any type of fear, they have to speak up," said Mary Brown, Program Director with Women's Advocates, Inc.

If you've experienced domestic assault - or know someone who might be in trouble - call Women's Advocates, Inc.'s 24 hour hotline at 651-227-8284.