BELLINGHAM, Wash. — The threats are chilling. Impregnating a young girl. Raising the baby for “plunder and extortion.”
Then “sacrificing” the child.
Weeks after victims across the Twin Cities and around the country, told KARE 11 they have been terrorized by threats in arriving in letters, emails, texts and social media messages, the man believed to be responsible is behind bars in Washington State.
Matthew Dale, 43, has officially been charged with two counts of harassment and stalking after allegedly sending similar threatening letters to a Bellingham woman.
He has been held since his arrest on May 15, unable to post $50,000 bond. The next hearing in his case is scheduled for Wednesday, June 24.
Before his arrest, KARE 11 attempted to contact Matthew Dale by letter, text, email and phone. He did not respond.
Mailing former classmates
The story starts decades ago at Jackson Junior High and Champlin Park High School in the Twin Cities suburbs.
“We went to school together,” Dawn Cooper remembers, pointing to the picture of one of the boys in her class. “That’s him right there.”
His name is Matthew Dale.
“Do you remember anything about him?” KARE 11 asked.
“No, just that he was quiet,” Dawn said.
But 15 years after they graduated from high school, out of the blue, she says got a strange message from him on Facebook.
“It was sort of like: I knew you back in junior high and now you want to steal my money from me. And then there were these Biblical, weird comments and things like that.”
She says she blocked him – and forgot about it.
Until one day, three years ago, when she went to her mailbox and found a long, hand-written letter.
It listed the names of more than 30 former classmates – and a frightening plan for their children.
She read the key section out loud.
“It says: The plan for Dawn Cooper is for one of her daughters to get pregnant by me with a baby daughter, raise the baby daughter for plunder and extortion and then when all the plunder and extortion is all dried up, Moloch taking that daughter and sacrificing that daughter to Moloch in a way that is pleasing to him.”
“So, when you read those words?" KARE 11 asked.
“I was terrified,” Dawn said.
Buying a personal taser
Dawn soon discovered she is not alone. Other classmates on the list have been getting the threatening letters, too.
“Some of the people I went to high school with, their daughters are 8, 9, 10-years old. And he’s writing their names in the letters,” she said.
Over time they were getting similar threats in post cards, texts, and social media messages – from Facebook to Snapchat.
Victims say some of the messages were even sent directly to their children.
“I mean she was like 12 when this started,” said Kristin Jaakola. Kristen and her husband were so alarmed they bought their daughter mace – and a personal taser.
“It’s our daughter, he’s going to rape her and get her pregnant with a daughter,” she said.
She contacted the police. So did Shirley and Barry Ertl.
“I’m fed up. I said this has got to the point where it’s overwhelming,” Barry said.
“There’s a number of them here,” Barry said as he spread some of the letters across their dining room table.
Barry and his wife are examples of how the number of mailings has expanded year by year.
What started out as threatening letters to former classmates has grown to their family members. Matthew Dale has apparently done research to identify parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins – even in-laws.
At first, police said there wasn’t much they could do to stop the messages.
“I mean it’s like they can’t do anything, their hands are tied,” Shirley Ertl said.
Kristen Jaakola says police told her the same thing. “You know, they’re sorry, there’s really nothing they can do – until he does something,” she said.
Washington authorities file charges
Last month, however, a real estate agent in Bellingham, Washington – where Matthew Dale now lives – finally convinced authorities there to file formal charges against him.
“It was extremely scary – especially since it came out of the blue, right?” she said.
We’ll call her Sue. She asked us not to use her real name to protect her identity.
Ten years after she helped Matthew Dale find a home in Bellingham, she started getting similar letters. He threatened to get her pregnant and sacrifice the child.
Terrified, and afraid to stay home alone, she installed an expensive security system.
“I would watch cameras around my home, sometimes for hours in the middle of the night. And just lay there and watch my cameras,” she told KARE 11’s Lauren Leamanczyk.
In 2017, she went to court and got a Protection Order against him. But it expired after a year.
“Within days I received the next series of letters,” she said.
So, she got another court order against him. But when it expired earlier this year, the threats got even worse.
“Banging, ravishing … until she gets pregnant,” the hand-written letter said. “So, this second round was really about raping me. Very clearly,” Sue said.
The new criminal charges are based on the specific threats against her. But police records obtained by KARE 11 show just how widespread the threats have been.
Investigators detail a private website for victims with more than 100 members nationwide. An agent working for a special Federal Task Force in Minneapolis documented 56 formal complaints to police departments.
The reported threats include a restraining order request from Matthew Dale’s stepmother. In addition to threatening mail, she wrote he once “lost his temper” and threatened her and his own father “with a knife.”
The pending charges in Washington are gross misdemeanors, punishable by up to a year in jail.
For now, the Bellingham woman who finally convinced authorities to act is thankful the threatening letters have stopped – at least for now.
“I’m especially happy because with there being over 200 people that have been harassed by him for maybe 5-plus years, that those people now know he’s in jail – and have some sort of reprieve,” she said.
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