WAUKESHA — A Florida man has been convicted in the death of his wife, whose body has not been found since her disappearance more than 40 years ago in Wisconsin.
Jurors in Waukesha County unanimously found 79-year-old John Bayerl guilty of first-degree murder on Wednesday after hearing closing arguments. Bayerl faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison.
Bayerl was arrested in Fort Myers, Florida, in February and was extradited to Waukesha to stand trial in the death of 38-year-old Dona Mae Bayerl.
FOX6.now.com in Milwaukee reported that John Bayerl declined to take the stand, and the defense decided not to present any of its own evidence.
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Bayerl reported his wife missing on May 9, 1979. He told police she left their home in Muskego after an argument three days earlier. She was legally declared dead in 1986.
Bayerl remained stoic when the guilty verdict was read aloud, the station reported.
FOX6now.com reported that because Dona Bayerl's body was never found, and DNA testing wasn't available back then, the prosecution relied on circumstantial evidence, with the district attorney arguing that John Bayerl had a history of being abusive and kept changing his story about the night Dona Bayerl disappeared.
Authorities said the the search would continue for Dona Bayerl's body and what happened to her, the station reported.