Barbara Mendez

‘Cold Justice’ investigators help solve 1982 cold case that lands alleged child predator husband behind bars for murder

A pair of high-profile investigators took on a Wisconsin cold case that’s been haunting two sisters for 36 years in the upcoming premiere of Oxygen’s “Cold Justice.”

On April 28, 1982, 32-year-old Barbara Mendez was found beaten to death and left in a pool of her own blood at the Park City Credit Union in Minocqua, where she worked. The killer left behind hardly any traces, aside from unusual imprints on Barbara’s face, put there by the murder weapon.

For decades, local detectives couldn’t figure out what kind weapon could have made such strange marks. With lack of evidence and no clues where the murder weapon was or even what kind of weapon was used, the case went cold.

In 2018, Barbara’s daughters, contacted investigators Kelly Seigler and┬áSteve Spingola of the hit Oxygen show, “Cold Justice,” and pleaded for assistance in obtaining closure over their beloved mother’s death. The answers they found were shocking.

Spingola, who grew up in Wisconsin, told CrimeOnline that the case hit home for him.

“I have lived in Wisconsin my entire life and still go to the area to fish and visit my cousin, Penny Francois. The case is often discussed about by the residents and Penny still talks about the rear it put into the community and the rumors that were rampant at that time,” Spingola explains. “It was interesting to read the entire case file, 3 boxes of reports, and read about hunting spots, banks, and restaurants in the area that I visit.”

Aside from taking on a case that allowed him to visit childhood areas, it didn’t escape Spingola that the murder could not have happened to a kinder person. Barbara was considered a loyal wife and mother who volunteered at her church’s daycare, a church that the entire family was heavily involved in, including her husband,┬áRobin D. Mendez, who stands accused of carrying on an inappropriate relationship with a child who attended the same church.

“The victim, Barbara Mendez, was a very good person, excellent mother, religious study teacher, and a good wife. She was definitely a ‘low risk’ victim and in examining the way she was murdered, multiple blunt force blows to the head, rolled over and beaten again, it pointed to a ‘personal’ attack. No one would do this unless they had a personal relationship with her, thus, her husband became the prime suspect. This was a case in which I felt relief as well as sadness that we solved. The daughters lost their mother and now know their father committed the murder.”

Without any DNA evidence in this case, Sieglerd and Spingola had to piece together information given by others, including an expert who properly identified the type of murder weapon likely used, which linked backed to something used in an upholstery or furniture store. Robin Mendez worked at a local furniture store at the time of his wife’s death.

Seigler and Spingola also spoke to the woman who said she was 14 when Robin began having a sexual relationship with her. The witness played an integral part in helping investigators solve the case and put Mendez behind bars.

“Cold Justice” airs August 4 on Oxygen at 6 p.m. EST.

 

[Feature Photo: Barbara Mendez/Oxygen]