Minocqua man, 69, accused of killing his wife in 1982 - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Minocqua man, 69, accused of killing his wife in 1982

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MINOCQUA, Wis. (WAOW) -

A Minocqua man, 69, was charged Tuesday with killing his wife more than three decades ago, perhaps using a "pry bar" to beat her in the head, according to a criminal complaint.

Robin Mendez was charged with first-degree murder in the April 28, 1982, death of Barbara Mendez, whose beaten body was found at Park City Credit Union where she worked.

A day earlier, a "so depressed" Mrs. Mendez told a friend she thought she was going to die soon and "couldn't take it anymore," complaining that she and her husband were growing apart, they never did anything anymore and she wanted the marriage to work even if he had an affair with a teenage girl from their church, the complaint said.

An autopsy determined Mrs. Mendez suffered “multiple blunt injuries, abrasions and lacerations of head, with extensive skull fractures.” Investigators believe a “pry bar” or a “Wonder Bar” was used in the attack.

The 36-page complaint uses mostly circumstantial evidence to make the case against him. For example:

  • Mendez bought a new motorcycle in Wausau 12 days after his wife died, getting $2,000 for one he traded in and paying the remaining $3,774 with a check on an account from Lakeland Upholstery & Drapery Shop. About $2,700 was stolen from a bank bag from Park City Credit Union the night Mrs. Mendez was killed.
  • A woman told investigators that a normally "talky and laughy" Mendez arrived unusually late to church the night of the murder and was "abnormally quiet."
  • His daughters, ages 13 and 11 at the time, told investigators they believe their father "manipulated them into providing a false alibi for him," and he never took them to their mother's grave.
  • There were no eyewitnesses and no indication the murder weapon was found.

As for a possible confession, Mendez told the then-Minocqua police chief, “If I kill myself, then you all won't know 50 years from now about the murder,” the complaint said. The chief found the comment "extremely strange."

And the teen involved in the affair with Mendez said she was at his home after Mrs. Mendez's body was discovered and he told her, "I'm footloose and fancy free now."

During a brief hearing in Oneida County Circuit Court on Tuesday, a judge ordered Mendez, who did not have an attorney and was arrested Monday, jailed on a $250,000 bond.

The sheriff's department said it has worked with the Minocqua Police Department on the case for 36 years, interviewing every witness again the past few months.

In a statement, District Attorney Michael Schiek said, "We feel at this time the evidence supports the arrest."

Other details outlined in the criminal complaint:

  • Mendez had a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old girl from his church that began in summer 1981. The girl reported Mendez told her he had not been sexually active with his wife "for years" and he was going to marry the teen. The girl acknowledged she wished Mrs. Mendez would die "so we could be with each other."
  • The girl told investigators that when first questioned, she lied when she said Mendez couldn't have killed his wife because she was on the phone with him from 5 to 5:30 p.m. - about the time Mrs. Mendez was likely beaten to death.
  • Witnesses say Mendez did not show any emotion the night of the murder. His wife's sister said he never visited the grave and did not buy a headstone.
  • His daughters said they confronted their father in 1982 about their mother's death and he never denied it. "Both said...Robin Mendez would say that he would tell them someday what happened to their mother, but he could not tell them now."
  •  A woman who married Mendez in 1984 and divorced him in 2002 after he was caught peeping at their 14-year-old daughter in the shower called him a "pathological liar who lies about everything and noted there is nothing truthful about him."
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