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Deadly Love Triangle: 81-Year-Old Woman Convicted for Four-Decade-Old Murder of 'Other Woman' in Wisconsin

The initial investigation yielded no results but authorities renewed their interest in the case in 2021.
Cover Image Source: YouTube/FOX 10 Phoenix
Cover Image Source: YouTube/FOX 10 Phoenix

A love triangle that led to a brutal murder has been solved after four decades. A jury convicted an 81-year-old Arizona woman, Mary Josephine Bailey, for a 1985 western Wisconsin murder, reported the Pioneer Press. The sentencing occurred in Polk County Circuit Court for the killing of 45-year-old Yvonne Carol Menke. The victim was reportedly shot three times outside her St. Croix Falls apartment before going to work on December 12, 1985.

The trial lasted eight days in Balsam Lake and the jurors deliberated on the decision for two hours. Bailey faces a possible life sentence for the murder. The sentencing is set to take place on July 2. 

The case turned cold after the initial investigation ended with no arrests. Authorities expressed renewed interest in 2021 and worked on it for two years, the Independent reported.

During the original investigation, Bailey was an initial suspect, as witnesses had come forward sharing that Bailey had been involved "in somewhat of a love triangle" with Menke and a man named Jack Owen.


In the criminal complaint, the investigator shared that Menke died because of a close-range shooting towards her home, the Independent reported. As per the notes in the complaint, the attacker had "personal knowledge and a strong emotional reaction" toward the victim.

Authorities found a boot print in the snow where Menke's body was discovered. The word "Arctic" was imprinted in the print exactly where the heel of the boot came in contact with the ground. The same bootprints reappeared approximately a block away from the murder site.


The day after the murder, the investigators took the testimony of Owen, who died in 2021. The man stated that he was dating Bailey and his last interaction with her was at a party, a month before the murder.

The pair were passionate about horses and horse shows, which eventually led to a romantic relationship, the Independent reported. But despite his relationship with Bailey, Owen was regularly spending time with Menke, another horse enthusiast.

In her statement, Bailey denied ever meeting Menke but accepted that she knew of her. Later on, Bailey admitted that she had called Menke to discuss the latter's relationship with Owen.


Investigators found phone records that revealed that Bailey had called Menke multiple times in 1985, the Independent reported. They also learned that Bailey owned the same kind of gun that was used to facilitate Menke's murder.

The investigators were unable to garner enough evidence to arrest Bailey and the case was closed without any result. In 2009, another attempt was made to convict Bailey by submitting her boots, a pair of jackets, and a hat for analysis. None of the items had any traces of blood. Polk County investigators returned to the case again in 2021.

Representative Image Source: Pexels | Kelly
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Kelly

The officials interviewed witnesses who knew Bailey, Menke, and Owen. That is when they stumbled upon one of Bailey's acquaintances who told them in 2022, Bailey had confided that something had been "bothering her for years" that she wanted to get off her chest.

The acquaintance also told officials that a year after the murder, a guy who dated Bailey said he was instructed by her to burn some clothes. The acquaintance claimed that it was her boyfriend who shared the piece of information directly, the Independent reported.

Representative Image Source: Pexels | Chris F
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Chris F

Investigators tracked the man down but he told them that he couldn't recall the incident. Bailey also claimed she hadn't made any such request. According to detectives, she could not give a satisfactory explanation regarding the boot prints and why they were consistent with the shoewear found in her custody.  Bailey had no reaction when she was informed that she would be charged with Menke's murder, an investigator noted.

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