Their Recollections of Mom's 1982 Death Led to Dad's Arrest

New information from the sisters, who were 11 and 13, led to murder charge
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 11, 2018 3:04 PM CST
Their Mom Was Murdered in 1982. Now, an Arrest: Dad
This Feb. 5, 2018, photo provided by the Oneida County Sheriff’s Office shows Robin Mendez.   (Oneida County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

New information from two sisters who were 11 and 13 when their mother was killed in 1982 in northern Wisconsin resulted in a murder charge against their father more than 35 years later, a lead investigator in the case said Wednesday. Robin Mendez, 69, was charged with first-degree murder this week in the death of his wife, Barbara Mendez. Oneida County Sheriff's Capt. Terri Hook said recent interviews with the couple's daughters—as well as a woman who said she had a sexual relationship with the defendant when she was 14—helped lead to the murder charge, reports the AP. According to the criminal complaint, the couple's daughters, Dawn Mendez Shape and Christy Mendez Wadas, recently told investigators they were manipulated and coached by their father on what to say when the case was initially investigated.

The daughters also told investigators they were aware that their father was spending a lot of time with the 14-year-old girl in 1982, according to the 36-page complaint. That woman recently told investigators she believed Mendez wanted her to provide an alibi for him the day his wife was killed, so she initially lied to police and told them she was on the phone with him during the time his wife was killed, according to the complaint. Barbara Mendez was found bludgeoned to death at her workplace, the Park City Credit Union in Minocqua, in April 1982. She died from multiple blows to her head, mostly likely with a pry bar, according to the complaint. Robin Mendez used that type of pry bar frequently at his family's furniture business, prosecutors said. Mendez is being held in the Oneida County Jail on $250,000 bond.

(Read more cold cases stories.)

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