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40 Years Ago, She Vanished Without A Trace — Now Her Husband Is Arrested For Murder

Dona Mae and John Bayerl's marriage had been faltering shortly before Dona Mae vanished in 1979.

By Eric Shorey

A Wisconsin man whose wife had been reported missing approximately 40 years ago has been accused of first-degree murder.

Cold case detectives believe they have solved a decades-long investigation with the arrest of John Bayerl, now 78 years old, on February 19. His wife, Dona Mae Bayerl, was 38 years old when she disappeared in May 1979.

John had told police that his wife had fled after an argument, never to return. Dona Mae's family didn't believe that narrative, insisting she would have never left behind her two children, who were aged 7 and 4 at the time.

Not only that, but Dona Mae's blood was later discovered in the family's garage. Police also didn't believe she left of her own free will, according to the City of Muskego website

Members of Dona Mae's family had indicated that her marriage had been disintegrating before she vanished, reported WDJT of Milwaukee.

John Bayerl Arrested

Jodie Jarvis, the daughter of John and Dona Mae, recalled police attempting to obtain more information about their mother's disappearance.

"The police would come, I would just tell them basically what I was told from my dad I think, which was that I went to bed, he heard some noises like a door slam or something like that and when I woke up she wasn't there," Jarvis told WTMJ 4 of Milwaukee

Dona Mae was officially declared dead in 1986, even though a body had never been found. The mystery went unsolved, but the case was never officially closed, according to WDJT.

John continued to be considered a person of interest in the case. Then, on February 15 2019, a warrant for his arrest was issued, reported WTMJ 4.

It is unclear what events transpired to lead to the break in the case or if new evidence was discovered.

John is being held at the Waukesha County Jail. His next hearing will be on February 28, according to Patch.

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