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Arlington Heights woman sues boyfriend she met on Bumble, says he killed her dogs

Sarah Manos, 27, a high school teacher, sued Mathew Berry on Wednesday, blaming him for ‘severe emotional distress.’ He denies her allegations.

Sarah Manos holds a photo of her dogs Kirby (left) and Daisy, who she says were killed by a man she met on the dating app Bumble.
Sarah Manos holds a photo of her dogs Kirby (left) and Daisy, who she says were killed by a man she met on the dating app Bumble.
Tyler LaRiviere / Sun-Times

They were drawn to each other by their love for dogs.

Sarah Manos, a 27-year-old high school teacher, owned Daisy and Kirby, mixes of the Shih Tzu and Bichon Frise breeds.

Mathew Berry, a 28-year-old driver for a medical transportation company, had a German shepherd named Zip.

They met on a dating app, and it seemed like a perfect match, but their relationship soon turned hellish, Manos says in a lawsuit filed Wednesday against Berry in Cook County circuit court. In it, she says that, over the next two and a half months, Berry tortured and killed her dogs as he became increasingly controlling and jealous and threatened violence.

Her suit accuses Berry of violating the Illinois Humane Care for Animals Act and seeks an unspecified amount of money for emotional suffering.

“Mat and I originally connected on how much we loved our dogs, as he said his dog was the No. 1 thing in his life, too,” Manos said in an interview. “I had thought that somebody who loves a pet that much must be a good, kind, caring person. I don’t think many people can relate to or have had that experience of living in a constant state of paralyzing fear.”

Mathew Berry with his dog Zip.
Mathew Berry with his dog Zip.
Provided

In an interview, Berry denied he was abusive to Manos or harmed her dogs and said, “I think she’s doing this for attention.”

Some of Manos’ allegations are similar to those made by a former girlfriend of Berry when he was 17 and living in Grayslake. In 2010, that ex-girlfriend obtained an order of protection against him in Lake County circuit court that accused him of striking her in the face, demanding to read her journal, ordering her not to try out for a softball team and threatening to kill her and her parents.

“His violence is escalating and I am afraid of him,” she told the court.

Manos said Berry began abusing her soon after they met on Bumble last April 3, a relationship that lasted 10 weeks. Berry told her he was an orphan, that he watched his parents die in a car crash and that he was abused in foster care, according to her lawsuit.

Manos said Berry once insisted on staying on a video link with her for hours while she taught a Spanish class on Zoom, that he spoke out against Black people and told her to stay away from the Black Lives Matter movement and that he once had his German shepherd bite her, leaving her with scars on her legs.

Kirby (left) and Daisy.
Kirby (left) and Daisy.
Provided

Her lawsuit says he abused her dogs, starting with Manos’ younger dog Daisy, then 17 pounds and 13 months old. On May 4, according to Manos’ suit, she was teaching a class on Zoom from her Arlington Heights home when Berry arrived with his German shepherd. Berry fed Daisy pieces of fruit, according to the lawsuit, and the dog became lethargic.

After her class ended, she said she went to her bedroom and saw Berry inject what he said was a “morphine-like” medication into Daisy. The dog became “wobbly” and died later that day at an animal hospital, according to Manos’ lawsuit.

Her 6-year-old dog Kirby was next, according to the suit, which says Berry abused him while giving him baths. It says that, on June 23 at Berry’s home in Midlothian, he tortured Kirby for hours, beating the dog in the bathroom until he was bleeding, then, outdoors, sprayed the dog with a hose and used a leaf blower on him. Later, Berry ordered his German shepherd to maul Kirby, according to the suit, which says Berry and Manos rushed Kirby to an emergency clinic in the south suburbs but that his injuries were too severe to be taken care of there.

On the way to an animal hospital in Buffalo Grove, Kirby collapsed and stopped breathing. Berry stopped his car and performed CPR on the dog on the hood, but Kirby died, according to the suit.

A veterinarian saw evidence Kirby was abused, and the police were notified. When Berry found out, he threatened to kill Manos’ parents, according to the lawsuit, which says Manos had a panic attack the next day.

A necropsy found that Kirby died of acute blunt force trauma, having suffered multiple rib fractures and hemorrhages in his head, neck and internal organs, according to a veterinarian’s report.

On June 26, a Cook County judge granted Manos an emergency protection order against Berry, and she and her family “left town” immediately to get away from him, according to the suit. It says he tried to call her as many as 100 times and texted her sexually explicit pictures and videos that he said he would send to her school and co-workers.

Manos’ application for the protection order said Berry was “constantly verbally abusive and calls me fat, that if I make a mistake I am dumb and not using my brain. He ‘slut-shames’ me for the people I used to date. Mat threatens to ruin my career. Mat frequently threatens to kill himself.”

On July 6, the Arlington Heights police arrested Berry for violating the order of protection when he showed up at the police station while officers were interviewing Manos. Her mother had called 911 because she saw him driving past her house.

On Oct. 26, Berry pleaded guilty to the violation and was sentenced to a year of probation, 20 hours of community service and nearly $1,000 in fines and fees.

Manos said she knows some people might wonder why she stayed with Berry.

“I don’t think many people know the complexities of abuse, and that’s one of my goals as I share my story, to educate about it,” she said.

She said she’s frustrated that the police in Arlington Heights and Midlothian and Cook County prosecutors didn’t charge Berry in her dogs’ deaths.

On Wednesday, a spokeswoman for Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx said: “After a thorough review of all available information, including a necropsy and witness accounts, we concluded that the evidence was insufficient to meet our burden of proof to file charges for animal cruelty.”

Domestic violence experts say it’s common for men who abuse women to attack their children and pets.

“In close to 90% of cases where an individual experiencing domestic violence has a pet, the pet is also harmed, threatened or killed,” said Olivia Farrell of The Network: Advocating Against Domestic Violence, a Chicago agency.

Berry said he was fired from his medical-transport job because of Manos’ allegations and plans to file for bankruptcy.

Berry said his dog has never bitten anyone, and “I never laid my hands on her.”

He also said Manos’ allegations don’t make sense, like the fact that he performed CPR on Kirby.

“You don’t perform CPR on a dog if you’re trying to kill it,” he said.

Sarah Manos displays a photo of her dogs Kirby and Daisy surrounded by their favorite toys, food bowls and paw prints.
Sarah Manos displays a photo of her dogs Kirby and Daisy surrounded by their favorite toys, food bowls and paw prints.
Tyler LaRiviere / Sun-Times

Neha Gill, executive director of Apna Ghar, a domestic violence prevention group, lobbied the Illinois General Assembly in the early 2000s to include animals as protected parties in orders of protection. She works with a group called Safe Havens that cares for animals when their owners enter domestic violence shelters.

“Agencies like ours are here to help, so utilizing a crisis line to even just talk is an option, or calling 911 with one of our advocates are all options,” Gill said.