RHINELANDER (WAOW) – A 15-day trial was set Thursday for a 69-year-old Minocqua man accused of killing his wife more than three decades ago, according to online Oneida County court records.
Robin Mendez is 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.
His trial is set to begin April 8 – about one year after he pleaded not guilty.
The sheriff’s department said it worked with the Minocqua Police Department on the case for 36 years, and interviewed every witness again recent months leading to charges being filed in February.
The agency said the television crime show "Cold Justice" on the Oxygen Network provided fresh eyes and resources to authorities, helping lead to Mendez’s arrest.
A 36-page criminal complaint uses mostly circumstantial evidence to make the case against Mendez. There were no eyewitnesses, no confession from him and no indication the murder weapon was found.
A day before she died, 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.
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," the complaint said.