Forensic photo gives hope to daughters of mom missing since 1979

Muskego Police are bringing attention to a decades-old mission persons case.  A new age progression picture reveals what the woman might look like 38 years later.  Dona Mae Bayerl went missing in May of 1979.

"This woman basically vanished without any kind of trace evidence," said Detective Steve Westphal, Muskego Police.

The mother of two was last seen at her Muskego home.  Police said her husband reported the disappearance, after she was missing for a couple days.  Detective Steve Westphal took on the case five years ago.

"Apparently she had an argument with her husband at the time and she returned home after that argument and then at some point either left of something else happened to her and she was never seen from again," said Detective Westphal.

Forensic artists with the FBI lab at Quantico used photos of Dona Mae, her parents, her sister and daughter to determine what she might look like now, at 77.

"I thought it was kind of cool that I got the opportunity to see what perhaps she looked like," said Jodie Jarvis, daughter. 

"When I see pictures of my mom that I have I think of her as my mom, but when I see this picture of the age progression I think that's my children's grandma...."Mostly I would say that hope came along with that picture.  Hope for answers, hope for closure," said Jackie Kort, daughter.

Jodie was 7-years-old and Jackie was 4-years-old when their mom went missing.  It's hard for them to remember many details about their mom missing.

"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," said Jarvis.

"The vivid things that I do remember are being very afraid and police coming into the house and I would hide," said Kort.

Not a day goes by when they don't think about their mom.

"Just imagine if you didn't know where your mother was.  It's not a nice way to grow up," said Jarvis.

"The pain never goes away.  The searching never goes away," said Kort.

Police said this might be a criminal investigation, but police hope the picture will help determine if Dona Mae is alive.

"We owe it to the investigation to take a look at a theory that she left under her own account.  That she might have been involved in an abusive relationship in the 1970's," said Westphal.

The detective asks anyone with possible information to call police, (262) 679-4130.

"Was there anything suspicious in 1979?  Was there someone that was here during May that was maybe a transient, maybe that stayed here momentarily, maybe somebody that had other issues and moved on," said Westphal.

The sisters go back and forth about what they think happened to their mom.  They hope the picture helps find the closure they're yearning for.

"It makes me feel like she's still important," said Jarvis.

"I just want to tell everybody I'm not giving up and to the other families that also have missing people not to give up either," said Kort.

Kort helped start The Wisconsin Missing Persons Advocacy.  To learn more visit https://www.wimissing.org/about_us

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