Closing arguments expected Wednesday in trial for Muskego man accused in murder of his wife

John Bayerl

WAUKESHA COUNTY -- The state on Tuesday, June 25 rested its case in the trial of John Bayerl, charged with first degree murder in the 1979 cold case murder of his wife, Dona Bayerl, who disappeared from her Muskego home and was never found.

John Bayerl declined to take the stand, and the defense declined to present any of its own evidence, closing the testimony portion of the trial on Tuesday.

The final witnesses for the prosecution focused on the forensic evidence and John Bayerl's statements to law enforcement.

In the days and weeks following the disappearance of Dona Bayerl, 38, members of the Muskego Police Department recalled John Bayerl's behavior when he learned blood spatter was discovered in the couple's garage.

John Bayerl, Dona Bayerl

John Johnson

"He had a white T-shirt on, and the area of his heart started moving when we told him about the blood stains," said John Johnson, former lieutenant.

While DNA testing wasn't available four decades ago, possible blood recovered on a bottle from the Bayerl home was re-tested in 2018, and matched Dona Bayerl's DNA profile.

"Is there any way to confirm that the DNA profile is a blood DNA profile?" asked the defense.

"There's no way to confirm that," said Ronald Witucki with the Milwaukee Crime Lab.

Ronald Witucki

Stephen Westphal

John Bayerl has maintained over the years Dona Bayerl stormed out of the house the night she went missing after they got into an argument. She was never found, but a current Muskego detective said the mother of two was presumed dead based on her missing person's report in the national law enforcement database NCIC.

"In the 40 years Dona Mae has been listed in NCIC, has there been any hits in NCIC?" asked the district attorney.

"No," said Detective Stephen Westphal.

Westphal testified that he re-interviewed John Bayerl in 2018.

"He also thinks she's dead?" asked the district attorney.

"Yes," said Westphal.

Dona Bayerl and children

Westphal said the 79-year-old who has difficulty hearing slammed his fist while they talked about his past relationships with women.

"Do you think John Bayerl killed Dona Bayerl?" asked the district attorney.

"Yes," said Westphal.

Closing statements were set for Wednesday morning, and the jury was then set to begin deliberations.