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‘Doesn’t add up’: Missing Bemidji man prompts family search

Steph Kniefel, left, sister to Matt Pulis, missing since Saturday night, searches the shores of Lake Bemidji with friend Jess Sandberg on Thursday afternoon. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer1 / 2
Matt Pulis, 31, of Bemidji, has not been seen since 2:30 a.m. Saturday when walking north with two men on Beltrami Avenue. Pulis is 5 feet 9 inches tall and 180 pounds, with chin-length brown hair and brown eyes. 2 / 2

BEMIDJI – It was when Matt Pulis didn’t report for work Monday that his sister began to seriously worry.

“I know he knows that when he didn’t show up at noon Monday, I’d begin searching for him,” Steph Kniefel said Thursday as she scoured Bemidji’s Cameron Park for signs of her brother.

Pulis, 31, is missing. The Bemidji man was last seen with two men at about 2:30 a.m. Saturday as they walked north on Beltrami Avenue away from Toasty Beavers.

Pulis, who also missed a Wednesday appointment to refill his antidepressant medication, sent a text at about 1:30 a.m. Saturday to a friend in Chicago. It was the last time anyone heard from him.

Pulis is described as 5-foot-9, about 180 pounds, with chin-length brown hair and blue eyes. Anyone with information about his whereabouts is asked to call the Bemidji Police Department at 333-9111.

Pulis’ ATM card was used at about 8:30 p.m. Monday to withdraw $60 cash in Bemidji, Kniefel said.

That action alone is odd because Pulis would know that his family would begin looking for him as soon as he didn’t show up for work Monday afternoon, Kniefel said. Why would he then opt to go withdraw cash from a Bemidji ATM?

“It’s weird,” Kniefel said. “It doesn’t add up.”

According to the Facebook group, Help Us Find Matt Pulis, Bemidji police are working with Wells Fargo to obtain video surveillance of the ATM transaction.

Police also are reviewing video surveillance from downtown bars, the Facebook group reported.

Bemidji Police Chief Mike Mastin did not provide any additional details Thursday afternoon.

Kniefel spent Wednesday and Thursday passing out flyers with a friend, Jess Sandberg, as they searched for signs of Pulis.

“(I) just can’t sit and wait,” said Kniefel, noting that of her four siblings, Pulis is her closest.

Pulis moved to Bemidji in winter 2009-2010, more or less choosing to follow Kniefel, who moved here in 2004.

Both previously worked at a McDonald's in Virginia, Minn. Kniefel now is the first assistant manager at the north McDonald's, near Paul Bunyan Mall. Pulis also worked there full time as a maintenance employee.

They didn’t talk often on the phone but frequently touched base with each other at work, Kniefel said.

McDonald's employees throughout Bemidji – Kniefel’s husband is the manager at the south McDonald's – have offered their help in spreading the word and asking people for information about Pulis’ disappearance.

“We’re one big family,” Kniefel said.

Pulis went out with coworkers after work Friday night. Kniefel said a coworker on Saturday made a random comment about how she hoped Pulis had made it home OK – he doesn’t drive or own a car, so he was walking home from downtown.

Kniefel wasn’t initially concerned, noting that Pulis is 31 years old and “walks everywhere.”

But once Pulis didn’t report for work Monday, Kniefel became concerned.

“It’s very, very out of character for him,” she said.