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Officials: Now adult witnesses key in the 1982 slaying case

MILWAUKEE – New information from two sisters who were 11 and 13 when their mother was murdered in 1982 in the north of Wisconsin, resulting in a murder indictment 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 pair of daughters and a woman who said that she had a sexual relationship with the defendant when she was 14, helped lead to the murder charge.

“There are witnesses who are willing to talk and ready to provide information that they would not have been able to offer (in the past) on the basis of their relationship with him,” Hook said.

According to the indictment, the couple’s daughters, Dawn Mendez Form and Christy Mendez Wadas, recently told the researchers that they were manipulated and coached by their father on to say, when the case was initially investigated.

The daughters told the researchers that they were aware that their father spending a lot of time with the 14-year-old girl in 1982, according to the 36-page complaint.

Barbara Mendez was found bludgeoned to death at her workplace, the Park City Credit Union in Minocqua, in April 1982. She died of multiple blows to her head, probably with a crowbar, according to the complaint. Robin Mendez used that kind of pry bar regularly with his family furniture business, prosecutors said.

The woman who said that she had a sexual relationship with Mendez when she was 14, also recently told the researchers that they believed Mendez wanted her to provide an alibi for him the day his wife was killed, so that she initially lied to the police and told them that she was on the phone with him during the time his wife was murdered, according to the complaint.

Hook said re-examine the cold case in 2002 and 2003, and focused on Robin Mendez is DNA found at the crime scene. The charges filed in the case this week are largely based on circumstantial evidence, no DNA, Hook said.

“Right from the start, Mendez was to give explanations on the reasons physical evidence of him would be at the bank,” she said.

Hook said that the addition of two investigators to the small police force of the last fall allowed them to spend time on the case and re-interview all surviving witnesses.

“Some people were still around and had excellent memories, because of how traumatic the event was,” Hook said.

Mendez is being held in the Oneida County Jail on $ 250,000 bond. Minocqua, a town of 4400, it is approximately 285 miles (458 km) northwest of Milwaukee.

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