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A Mysterious Disappearance, A Bank Robbery And Botched Car Jacking: What Could All 3 Crimes Have In Common?
Matt Landry had been the perfect doting boyfriend when he mysteriously disappeared one Sunday afternoon, leaving his girlfriend, family, and band members baffled.
Matt Landry — a 21-year-old pizza delivery driver with a passion for heavy metal rock — had been the perfect, doting boyfriend to his sick girlfriend before he mysteriously disappeared from a suburb of Detroit.
That Sunday morning in August 2009, Matt had drawn a hot bath for girlfriend, Francesca Bommarito, made her a cup of tea, and brought her a thermometer before asking Bommarito if he could get her any fast food, according to “Dateline: Secrets Uncovered,” airing Wednesdays at 8/7c on Oxygen.
Bommarito, a waitress who shared Matt’s love of music, declined the offer and instead decided to take a short nap while Landry left to run errands.
But Bommarito’s doting boyfriend never returned. It would take a seemingly unrelated string of crimes in the days that followed for investigators to piece together what happened to the promising musician.
Those who knew Matt described him as a good-hearted, quiet guy who loved to make his friends laugh. As the youngest of five children, he was still living with his parents, Doreen and Bob Landry, in their Chesterfield, Michigan home when he disappeared.
“Creating music was what he was happiest with,” Bob Landry recalled of the time Matt spent practicing with his bandmates.
Matt’s interests had expanded to also include his new girlfriend shortly before he disappeared.
Everyone — including Bommarito, his parents, and his bandmates — agreed it was unlike the 21-year-old to take off without any explanation. By Sunday night, Bommarito began calling local hospitals and police stations.
“I wanted to know like maybe if he had gotten into a car accident, maybe he got a flat tire on the side of the road, maybe he’s in a ditch,” she said. “I don’t know what happened.”
His mother, who had a background in banking, did her own sleuthing by logging into Matt’s bank account. She was immediately troubled by what she found. The last transactions on his account were three $100 withdrawals from an ATM on Detroit’s famed 7 Mile, an area plagued by crime and gangs.
“What was Matt doing at 7 Mile in Detroit?” she asked. “Why would Matt take out all of his money out of his account?”
Although she was hoping the transactions had been made by her son, it just didn’t sound like something he would do. The next day his parents reported Matt missing to the Chesterfield Police.
That same day, in another suburb of Detroit, 19-year-old Sarah Maynard was having her own harrowing day after going to the bank to cash her first paycheck from a dog kennel where she worked. As she entered the Harrison Township bank, she noticed a guy with sunglasses was watching her. She tried to ignore the man and went directly to the teller’s window, but the guy followed her inside.
“I handed them my check and then as soon as I set the check on the counter, I felt a gun to the back of my head,” Maynard recalled to "Dateline" correspondent Dennis Murphy. “He said, ‘Give me $50,000 or I’ll kill her.’”
The teller quickly handed over what money she had, but the gunman didn’t want to leave without Maynard and demanded she come with him or he’d kill her. In a move that investigators would later credit with saving her life, Maynard refused and sat firmly down on the floor of the bank. Frustrated, the man eventually ran off, leaving her behind.
Meanwhile, Chesterfield Police had made the disturbing discovery that the person captured on a Detroit gas station surveillance camera making those unusual withdrawals from Matt’s account was not the missing 21-year-old.
Still desperate to find her missing boyfriend, Bommarito went out to search.
“I can’t believe I’m doing this right now. Searching through dumpsters for my boyfriend. I didn’t know what to do,” she said while holding back tears.
As she got into Detroit, she saw a group of police cars and drove up to discover that authorities had just found Matt’s green Honda abandoned on the street.
By Tuesday Aug. 11, 2009, Roseville Police Lt. Ray Blarek was just learning of another brazen crime in the parking lot of a nearby Wal-Mart. The owner of a red Honda Civic told police that while he was in the car, he was approached by a gunman who told him to get out of the vehicle.
The carjacking was thwarted, however, when the gunman discovered the car was a stick shift and he was unable to drive it.
Nearby, another officer noticed a man wearing a large wig, who quickly took off running when he spotted police. During the foot chase, the suspect tossed a gun and clip before he was taken down by a Taser.
Blarek immediately recognized the now-handcuffed man as the same man captured on surveillance footage robbing the Harrison Township bank just the day before.
“He’s a violent suspect. He’s involved in two things that we know of and who knows how many others,” Blarek told “Dateline: Secrets Uncovered.”
Blarek began to wonder whether the same suspect, identified by authorities as Ihab "IHOP" Masalmani, could have been involved in Matt’s disappearance, a theory that was later confirmed after investigators discovered a map in Matt’s abandoned vehicle with the targeted bank marked with an “x.”
The surveillance footage from the gas station where Matt’s money had been withdrawn also seemingly matched the suspect now in custody; however, authorities still weren’t sure what had happened to the missing 21-year-old.
They’d get their answer after a 911 call was unearthed from a witness who called to report seeing a carjacking outside a Quiznos Sub shop in Eastpointe, the same day Matt disappeared.
“He’s got him by the neck now. He’s — I think he’s putting him in the trunk,” the concerned caller said of the apparent kidnapping.
Quiznos had been the last place Matt had used his debit card before the ATM withdrawals. The salesperson inside remembered he had asked what kind of sandwich would be best for his sick girlfriend.
His family was still hoping that Matt would be found alive, but the heartbreaking truth emerged on Thursday Aug. 13, 2009 when Blarek and his partner discovered his body inside a burned and abandoned home in Detroit. Matt had been shot in the head.
“I remember the chief of police coming to the front door. I knew when he walked in, I could tell by the look on his face what he was going to tell me. I didn’t want to hear it,” Doreen remembered.
Investigators would later determine that Masalmani wasn’t the only person involved in the the 21-year-old’s death. Robert “Fat Daddy” Taylor, who was just 16 years old at the time, was also arrested and charged with murder and kidnapping.
Both men were found guilty of murder and sentenced to life without parole.
“It took one second, literally one second to end Matthew’s life and that one second has literally turned our family upside down,” Doreen said.
For more on this case and others like it, watch “Dateline: Secrets Uncovered,” airing Wednesdays at 8/7c on Oxygen or stream episodes here.