A 78-year-old man was convicted of murdering his wife who disappeared without a trace four decades ago.
John Bayerl was found guilty on Wednesday of the murder of the cold case in 1979 in Muskego, Wisconsin. He is confronted with life in prison without conditional release when he is convicted in August.
His then 38-year-old wife Dona Bayerl disappeared on May 6, 1979 and her body was never recovered. She was officially declared dead seven years after her disappearance in 1986.
For years, John Bayerl of Fort Myers, Florida, held to his story that Dona had stormed out of the Muskego's family home after their turbulent marriage had reached a breaking point.
The father of two claimed that their union had been suffering for some time, and after a dispute over an unattached television, Dona walked out the front door and drove off.
John Bayerl, 78, was convicted on Wednesday in the murder of his wife Dona Bayerl in Muskego, Wisconsin. The suspect, who has poor hearing, is seen in the courtroom
For years, John Bayerl insisted on his story that Dona had stormed out of the family house in Muskego after their turbulent marriage had reached a breaking point. The pair is depicted in the 1970s
The testimony part of the Bayerl trial came to the conclusion on Tuesday that the suspect refused to take a stand and refrained from defending the opportunity to present her own evidence.
The Prosecutor focused his case on the forensic evidence and Bayerl & # 39; s law enforcement statements following the disappearance of Dona.
The testimony portion of the Bayerl trial was closed on Tuesday after the defendant (above in his mugshot) refused to testify
Members of the Muskego Police Department took the position and testified about the man's behavior in the early days and weeks of searching, even when they informed him of bloodstains in the couple's garage.
& # 39; He was wearing a white T-shirt and his heart started to move when we told him about the bloodstains, & # 39; John Johnson, a former lieutenant, said in court.
It was not until 2018 that blood found at home could be tested using improved DNA technology. The profile corresponded to Dona.
Detective Stephen Westphal testified last year about interviewing Bayerl.
He said the 78-year-old slammed his fist when asked about his former relationships with women.
& # 39; Do you think John Bayerl killed Dona Bayerl? & # 39; the public prosecutor asked Westphal.
& # 39; Yes, & # 39; the witness answered.
After the jury had pronounced its verdict after four hours of deliberation, Westphal told reporters: & This is not a day of winning and losing. We are looking for closure. We are still looking for closure.
& # 39; We are not going to stop. We will continue to search (for the body of Dona Bayerl). This is a step on the road. & # 39;
Bayerl stands for life in prison without conditional release when he is convicted in August
Muskego authorities have vowed to continue to look for the remains of Dona and evoked the belief of her husband & # 39; a step in the right direction & # 39 ;. The mother-of-two can be seen in a photo from 1969
John said that the marriage of the couple & # 39; some time & # 39; had suffered and the couple would argue regularly (pictured from left to right: John, Jackie, Dona, Jodie, two years before Dona disappeared)
The case reopened decades after the disappearance of Dona was largely based on suspicious statements that Bayerl had made to detectives over the years, according to a criminal indictment.
Bayerl claimed that hours after his wife left in anger, he heard the front door slam shut, assuming she had returned and fallen asleep again.
When the family woke up the next morning, their car was returned but Dona was nowhere to be seen. She has never been seen or heard again.
& # 39; The police would come, I would just tell them what I heard from my father, I think, that I went to bed, he heard sounds like slamming a door or something and when I woke up she wasn't there, & # 39; said the eldest daughter of the couple, Jodie Jarvis, 46 WTMJ TV in 2017.
& # 39; Imagine you didn't know where your mother was. It is not a fun way to grow up. & # 39;
At the time of their first investigation, Muskego Police was suspicious about the idea that Dona would disappear on the night of her own free will.
Her sister, Joan Bourgeois, told officers in a 1979 interview that Dona would not even go into the backyard of her house to walk the dogs at night, let alone go out on her own.
She also told the authorities that Dona would not leave the sides of her children under any circumstances.
While the police continued their investigation, Bourgeois moved to the Bayerl family's home to help John with the girls.
In a separate interview, she noted how John & # 39; did not seem concerned & # 39; about his missing wife and that on the day of her disappearance he had acted suspiciously by washing everything in the house, from the carpets to the comforters.
She added that John would never do the laundry. When Dona got involved with her second daughter Jackie during her pregnancy, it was Bourgeois who had to come to do the laundry.
John claimed that Dona went home from their Finnamore Lane on May 6, 1979 (pictured) in Muskego. He said he heard what he thought Dona slammed doors at 11 o'clock that night.
After her memory, Muskego PD did a second house search on May 16, 1979 in the family of the Bayerl family. This time she found blood splashing in the garage and in the basement.
John told officers that the blood in the basement was due to the fact that he had cut his finger on a blade a year earlier.
He offered no explanation for the blood in the garage.
When questioned about the splatter, one officer noted that John's heart began to pound quickly and visibly pounded under his shirt.
Further interrogation discovered that John Dona had beaten or pinched at least six times during their marriage, often resulting in bruising.
He also had a secret girlfriend, a local bartender named Diane, whom he visited several times a week.
John & # 39; s first wife, Agnes Pascavis, described John as a violent man with a bad mood and detailed a specific attack in which he had stifled her in such a way that a bruised handprint appeared on her neck. They are divorced later.
During his February arrest this year, John told officers that Dona & # 39; would not have left alone & # 39 ;.
He also added that he knows & # 39; in his mind that he is not guilty of anything other than being a bad husband & # 39 ;.
Dona was 38 years old when she disappeared. She was declared dead seven years later in 1986
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