The Disappearance of Matthew Anfeldt

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*This article has been updated to better reflect the timeline surrounding the day Matthew disappeared.

EARLY LIFE:

Matthew Daniel Anfeldt was born in Washington state on January 27, 1999. While growing up, he was very close to his family, which included his parents and siblings. He was especially close to his mother, Sarah Gleichmann-Anfeldt, and he would keep in constant contact with her, even after he moved out of the family home.

Matthew was known to have two main interests: wrestling and music. While he was in high school, he was a member of the school wrestling team. He would frequently compete in competitions, most of which would see him place well. However, while wrestling was an engaging extra-curricular activity, music was Matthew’s passion. Hoping to one day see success come out of his efforts, he would release recordings and freestyle rapping videos online under his stage name, MT Hayze. In order to spread the word about his music, he created a Facebook page where he would share new tracks.

Like many young people his age, Matthew began to experiment with drugs, which eventually led to him suffering from substance abuse. His family was aware of his struggles and worked with him to ensure he stayed clean.

LEAD UP TO DISAPPEARANCE:

On the evening of December 22, 2018, Matthew was heading home after hanging out with a co-worker in Lacey, Washington. As his cellphone was out of battery and he didn’t have a method of transportation to get home, he decided to walk. While going down Sleater Kinney Road, he noticed a group of individuals across the street, from which three people in hooded sweatshirts began to approach and follow him. Concerned, Matthew decided to enter the nearby Rite Aid store at 7th Avenue SE and Sleater Kinney Road SE to see if they would continue on. However, when he exited the store an hour later, he found them sitting out front.

Believing he was simply being paranoid, Matthew continued on home. Once he’d reached the backroads, he tripped on his work boots and was jumped by the trio following him. According to his account of the assault, the three of them began to beat and cut him. They slashed his body with a knife and carved the word “kill” into his chest. While the assault of happening, Matthew screamed out for help and found himself coming in and out of consciousness.

Matthew managed to make his way home after the three individuals fled. At some point in the night, he recorded a video of himself crying while covered in blood. He posted it to his social media, where it was noticed by his older brother, who tried frantically to get ahold of the then 20-year-old. Matthew took down the video upon waking up the next morning.

Traumatized by what had happened to him the night before, Matthew made his way to his mother’s house on the morning of December 23. Sarah was alarmed by what had happened to her son and urged him to visit the hospital and report the incident to the police, both things Matthew refused to do because he was worried about putting his family in danger. When asked if he knew the three individuals who attacked him, he claimed not to, but stated he hadn’t owed anyone any money when pressed further.

When Matthew later recounted the incident to his friends, he refused to mention any names or reveal why anyone would want to harm him, simply stating he knew that people were out to get him.

Outside of the assault in December 2018, Matthew was experiencing stress as a result of his financial situation. In order to pay his bills, his mother suggested he focus on finding a job, something he eventually did.

Fast forward to February 28, 2019, Matthew and his sister spent the day bowling. Between 4:00pm and 4:30pm, they returned to the family home, where they planned to spend the rest of the day watching movies. The pair were in his sister’s room, which is located off the garage, away from the main house. Before starting the first movie, between 5:05pm and 5:10pm, Matthew told his sister he needed to grab his cellphone, which he’d left in the house. He never returned to the room.

DISAPPEARANCE:

At around 5:27pm on February 28, 2019, police deputies responded to the 17800 block of Old Highway 99 SW in Thurston County, Washington after Matthew’s neighbour called 911 to report his acting erratically. She relayed to dispatch that he’d been ranting about his family’s death and claiming that unknown individuals were after him. She and others who contacted the authorities said he appeared to have been in the midst of a mental breakdown. After the interaction with his neighbour, he is reported to have hopped a nearby fence and run into the road, causing several vehicles to swerve and stop in order to avoid him. At this time, he jumped onto a car and into the bed of a pickup truck before running away.

At around 5:30pm, Matthew entered the Speedway grocery store located in the 19200 block of Old Highway SW, approximately two miles from his parents’ home. According to the clerk who was working at the time, he appeared panicked and sweaty, with dried blood around his mouth, and continued to say his entire family had been murdered. While he was looking for a place to hide, the clerk called 911, prompting him to run out of the store. The time was around 6:30pm, and it was the last time he was seen or heard from.

INVESTIGATION:

The first thing deputies did was contact the Anfeldt family, who were alive and well. When pressed regarding Matthew’s strange and erratic behaviour, they didn’t have an answer. According to his family, he’d never done something like this before and hadn’t gone more than 24 hours without speaking with his mother. They did share that he hadn’t been dressed for the cold temperatures the area was experiencing at the time, and as he didn’t have his cellphone or wallet with him, he had no means of supporting himself.

It was initially believed by investigators that it was possible someone had picked Matthew up in an attempt to help him, but no one in the community had come forward. The missing man also didn’t show up at any of the hospitals located in Thurston County or nearby Lewis County, which led them to feel this theory unlikely.

In the hopes of finding information, forensic experts examined Matthew’s cellphone to see if he’d had any pertinent conversations in the lead up of his disappearance. Investigators also put out a call to the public and his mother posted flyers, but after numerous tips were called in, they were no closer to finding him.

Throughout March 2019, numerous searches were conducted with the use of drones and the local K-9 unit. A map of the area where Matthew was last seen was also released, with police asking residents to search their outbuildings and crawl spaces, as well as wooded areas and tall grass. If they didn’t feel comfortable searching themselves, they were asked to allow deputies to do so.

Two months into the investigation, the Anfeldt family set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for a reward fund and to help cover expenses, including the hiring of a private investigator. Sarah shared that any left over money would be donated to another family struggling with finding a missing loved one.

When police learnt about the incident that happened in December 2018, they began to look into the possibility that the two cases were related. They’ve asked anyone with information about either or both cases to come forward.

An organization outside of the local sheriff’s office claims to have conducted interviews with those who say they provided Matthew with drugs around the time of his disappearance. However, they have been difficult to keep in contact with.

In May 2019, the family enlisted the help of private investigators to try and move the case along. In June of that year, they also held a yard sale fundraiser at Tumwater High School in Tumwater, Washington to help raise money to continue their search.

There have been reports that Matthew was seen in Yelm, Washington. However, these sightings have not been confirmed.

As of 2020, leads in the investigation have begun to dry up. Despite this, the local sheriff’s office has kept in close contact with the family. Sarah has shared it’s been a daily struggle to keep believing her son is still alive, especially given the circumstances surrounding his disappearance.

THEORIES:

1) Investigators have shared that Matthew may have suffered a medical emergency not long after he was last seen at the Speedway grocery store, given the delirious state he was in. There is also the possibility he could have been hurt when he ran into traffic, as there was dried blood around his mouth when he entered the store. However, as no evidence of Matthew has been found in the surrounding area, it’s hard to say if this is the case.

According to investigators, it’s likely he was having a mental health crisis, which could have been spurred by the use of meth, Ecstasy or Ativan. This is said to be supported by the hallucinations he was having and his panicked behaviour. However, it should be noted that it has yet to be proven that Matthew was under the influence of drugs at the time of his disappearance.

2) A second theory is that Matthew’s disappearance is related to the assault he suffered in December 2018. Throughout the evening of February 28, he was ranting about people being after him, so it’s believed by some that those he was talking about could be the individuals who attacked him a few months prior. Investigators have shared that they have yet to find evidence or receive information to show the two incidents are related.

AFTERMATH:

To help keep the case in the public eye, Sarah set up the Help Find Matthew Anfeldt Facebook page, which she updates regularly. She has also set up an online clothing store. Those wishing to support the family and raise awareness about the case can purchase clothing, from which 15% of proceeds go directly to the search effort.

On February 28, 2020, Sarah held a candlelight vigil for Matthew, which was broadcast live on Facebook. She shares that listening to her son’s music and watching his videos helps her get through each day.

CASE CONTACT INFORMATION:

Matthew Anfeldt went missing from Grand Mound, Thurston County, Washington on February 28, 2019. He was 20 years old and he was last seen wearing a black and grey Chicago Bulls sweatshirt with grey sweatpants. He was not wearing any shoes. At the time of his disappearance, he stood anywhere from 5’6″ to 5’7″ tall and weighed between 100 and 120 pounds. He has short, brown hair and hazel eyes, and he is said to have been clean-shaven. His ears are pierced, and he has the following tattoos: a cross with a double band in black ink around his right wrist and a cross between his thumb and index finger on his left hand.

Currently, his case is classified as endangered missing. If alive, he would be 21 years old.

Those with information regarding the case are asked to contact the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office at either 360-688-6696 or 360-786-5500.

Image Credit: Facebook

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