Masako Yamada Kenley was reported missing by her husband, William Kenley, on July 3, 2021, after she failed to show up to a meal with work colleagues on July 2. She did not return to their home that night and friends and loved ones were unable to reach her by cell phone. All calls went straight to voicemail, implying the device had been switched off. This was out-of-character for the 53-year-old mother of four, who resided with her family in Sandy, Utah. Masako was born in Yokohama, Japan and moved to the United-states in the mid-nineties after dedicating to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. There she attended business college and married her husband, Bill, in 1994. They raised four children and shared a wonderful life together.
The Sandy City Police department posted an appeal to find Masako, noting her last known whereabouts as the area of 7134 South 700 East in Midvale on July 2, 2021, around 4:00 P.M.
Over 700 volunteers, including friends, loved ones and members of the community lined the block to volunteer to search for Masako.
“It was overwhelming. When we had lines of people that ran down the block, it was just out of this world. We are so grateful for everybody coming out.” Said the missing woman’s neighbor, who was touched by the overwhelming support.
Masako’s vehicle was later discovered in a Costco parking lot at 11100 South Auto Mall Drive in Sandy.
By July 4, Sandy City Police released a statement tragically stating that Masako’s body had been discovered just 5 miles from her home, concealed in the thick brush of a difficult terrain along the Jordan River near 8900 South and 700 West. Police required the assistance of the Rocky Mountain Rescue Dogs to locate the body. A statement released to the public revealed that the death was being treated as suspicious and an appeal to the public for information was made.
On July 5, 2021, a 75-year-old South Jordan man identified as William O’Reilly, an acquaintance and ex-co-worker of Masako, was arrested in connection with her death. He was charged with Aggravated Murder, Desecration of a Corpse and Obstruction of Justice. The pair were said to have worked at the U.S Postal service together and when questioned, USPS workers at the facility where Masako worked for almost two decades, told reporters that William O’Reilly was obsessed with her.
A USPS employee named Tracy Collar commented on O'Reilly's obsessive behaviour, saying he had threatened Masako and followed her on several occasions. According to some media outlets, Masako’s husband, Bill, had warned O’ Reilly to stay away from his wife.
Tracy Collar, who knew both the victim and suspect, told 2KUTV: "The weirdness came in after he officially retired from the post office, and he would drive from his house to Masako's house to deliver fresh eggs. I was there; I witnessed the whole thing. Lots of stuff happened and so it was very creepy, and very not normal."
Investigators looked at phone records and surveillance footage to figure out what happened to Masako Yamada Kenley. They worked out that she and O’Reilly were together on the afternoon of July 2, 2021, and that the final location of Masako’s cell phone was the wooded area by the lake where they discovered her body. O'Reilly later admitted in an interview that he had placed the GPS on the victim's car and had removed it around July 2 when they met up. He said he removed the tracking device in the Costco car park, where the victim's vehicle was later discovered. O'Reilly also told police that Masako had angrily informed him that she no longer wanted anything to do with him. He lied to police about turning off Masako’s phone, claiming that he had turned it off in the Costco carpark after seeing it in her van. Officers informed him that the information he provided was untrue, as the cell phone had been recorded by the Jordan river before the device was switched off.
Autopsy revealed that the victim had been stabbed and shot multiple times in the neck and chest in what police described as a “brutal murder.”
The autopsy was conducted by Dr. Lily Marsen of the Utah Office. She determined the cause of death to be either a gunshot to the chest that punctured the heart, or a stab wound to the neck that pierced the carotid artery. The firearm believed to be used in the murder is a Glock 9mm that police believe O’Reilly passed on to someone else after the murder.
It was revealed in the affidavit that O’Reilly is a military veteran, and according to investigators the nature of the murder indicates it was likely at the hands of someone with military experience.
An affidavit for O’Reilly’s arrest stated: “Kenley sustained two gunshot wounds; one was to her chest. She also had multiple injuries that were consistent with an edged weapon. She was shot and stabbed. In this order, that has not been determined yet.”
When later asked what happened at the lake where Masako’s body was found, William O’ Reilly claimed that he couldn’t remember.
Police searched O’Reilly’s vehicle and discovered Masako’s handbag and one of her shoes in the trunk. It is believed the suspect took the items and put them in his car.
Police also found bloody clothing, a knife and bullets in the O’Reilly’s vehicle.
It is not yet known if Masako was forced into the vehicle or if she went with the suspect of her own accord.
William O’Reilly attempted to commit suicide, out of embarrassment he claimed, by taking an overdose of sleeping pills. His suicide attempt failed, and he awoke in the Salt Lake Regional Hospital where he was interviewed by investigators and subsequently taken to a secure facility before being arrested and booked at the Salt Lake County Jail. He is currently being held without bail as he is considered a danger to himself and others due to the violent nature of his crimes.