Dog Gone

Tom Matthews calls his search for his lost mutt, Mattie, "just another lost-dog story." If that's the case, Matthews and his wife, Alice, of Grand Rapids, Michigan, are redefining the genre. In the five months since Mattie, a shaggy little white twelve-year-old, disappeared in the couple's 2001 Buick LeSabre -- the victim of a car theft at Delmar and Skinker -- the Matthewses have consulted animal communicators and behaviorists, employed a team of search dogs, hired bounty hunters and upped a reward from $3,000 to $25,000. They have attracted a pack of kick-ass local volunteers who canvass neighborhoods and spread the word.

The Matthewses even started a blog.

So devoted are Tom and Alice, they return to St. Louis almost monthly to work their own shoe leather in areas where Mattie sightings have been reported. The search has taken them way down South Broadway and up to Bellefontaine Cemetery, through the back alleys around O'Fallon Park and across every inch surrounding a Jennings strip mall.

"We stayed out all night in the alley of Harney Avenue," Tom writes in an e-mail. "We visited drug houses looking for 'Henry.' Rumor has been that James Butler killed Mattie with a sledge hammer."

"Henry" is a purported friend of James Butler, the St. Louis city resident whom Cape Girardeau officials busted with the Matthewses' car. The Matthewses believe Henry is key to their mission. "Everybody kind of pointed to this one guy," Tom says. "But nobody will give his last name. Basically everybody's a little scared of him."

The couple has had no shortage of bad luck in St. Louis. On Christmas Eve they got a flat tire. On New Year's Eve their parked rental car got smashed up.

"We still think St. Louis is a great city," writes Tom, who's an accountant. (His wife, Alice, is a surgical technician.) "Big, bold with lots of beautiful and interesting places. It's a real shame that it has such a strong criminal element that makes everything seem so dangerous."

If you run into Tom -- and you might; he says he has committed to a three-year search -- help him see another side of St. Louis. Better yet, call 616-706-6026 if you get to Mattie before he does.


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