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September 27, 2021

Was missing Sandy woman stalked, blackmailed before she was killed?

Newly unsealed court documents suggest that a man accused of killing a Sandy woman, Masako Yamada Kenley, may have been stalking and blackmailing her for months before she was killed. (Sandy police)

SANDY — A man accused of killing a Sandy woman and leaving her body near the Jordan River may have been stalking and blackmailing her for months, according to newly unsealed court documents.

William Richard O’Reilly, 75, of South Jordan, is charged in 3rd District Court with murder and discharge of a firearm causing serious injury, both first-degree felonies; and obstructing justice, a second-degree felony. He is accused of both shooting and stabbing Masako Yamada Kenley, 53, multiple times and dumping her body in an area with heavy vegetation near the Jordan River.

Cadaver dogs found Kenley’s body near 8900 South and 1000 West.

Originally, it was reported that Kenley left her house on July 2 to meet co-workers for dinner but never made it there. Her husband reported her missing on July 3.

But according to a search warrant affidavit filed in 3rd District Court, even though Kenley told her husband she was going to dinner with friends, she “was actually going to meet up with O’Reilly.”

During the investigation into Kenley’s disappearance, Sandy police “became aware that she had been having an affair with … O’Reilly for the past 16 years,” the affidavit states.

On Monday, police said they were still unsure of the entire scope of Kenley and O’Reilly’s relationship, what the status of it was at the time she was killed, or what the relationship involved.

A friend of Kenley’s told police that O’Reilly had been stalking her to the point that he placed a GPS tracking device on Kenley’s vehicle without her knowledge, which was discovered about two months prior to her death when Kenley’s minivan was getting an oil change, according to the warrant.

The friend claimed that “O’Reilly had been forcing Masako to have sexual relations with (him) by blackmailing her and saying that he would tell her husband she was having an affair with him,” the affidavit says.

Kenley arrived at a motel in Midvale in her minivan about 3:45 p.m. on July 2, according to surveillance video obtained by police. At 4:05 p.m., Kenley and O’Reilly were recorded leaving together in her minivan with O’Reilly driving. Just after 5 p.m., O’Reilly returned to the motel in Kenley’s van, but she is not seen on video, according to the affidavit.

O’Reilly is recorded leaving the motel again just after 6 p.m. in his own car, and returning a little more than an hour later, according to police. When questioned by detectives about where he went during that time, O’Reilly claimed his memory was not very good. The next day, on July 3, security cameras recorded O’Reilly driving Kenley’s van to the parking lot of Costco, 11000 S. Auto Mall Drive, about 8:15 a.m., the affidavit states. The van had dirt and thorny weeds stuck to the tires.

When interviewed by police, they said O’Reilly at first claimed that when he met up with Kenley on the afternoon of July 2, the two had a “disagreement” over finances.

“During that ‘disagreement,’ Masako demanded that O’Reilly take the tracker off her vehicle,” he told police, according to the affidavit.

While police were questioning O’Reilly, and before Kenley’s body was found, a detective “told O’Reilly to be honest with what was going on because we would find the body. O’Reilly nodded his head and said, ‘I know,'” the warrant states.

After that initial interview, police say O’Reilly went to his house and “overdosed in an apparent attempt to commit suicide.” At the hospital, detectives interviewed O’Reilly again. He allegedly told them he had turned off Kenley’s phone and driven her van to the parking lot of Costco, and then took her purse and put it in the trunk of his car.

When police went to search O’Reilly’s car, “officers noticed a large sheet of plastic on the back seat,” according to the affidavit. Police also found clothing that appeared to have blood on it, ammunition, a knife, the GPS tracking device, Kenley’s purse and one of her sandals in the car.

Surveillance video from a 7-Eleven at 9000 South and 700 West was also seized by police. That recording shows a vehicle believed to be Kenley’s minivan “going into the off-road area of the Jordan River river bottoms of 8900 South and 700 West on July 2, 2021, at (4:35 p.m.) and coming out at (4:55 p.m.).”

After he was released from the hospital, detectives once again questioned O’Reilly at the Sandy Police Department and told him about the surveillance video collected.

“I asked him what was he doing with Masako for those 20 minutes while he was out of sight. O’Reilly exclaimed, ‘There is a 7-Eleven there?’ and then asked for an attorney,” the affidavit states.

After her body was found, an autopsy determined that Kenley had been shot twice and stabbed four times. All of her injuries were to her neck and chest areas, according to charging documents.

O’Reilly’s next court hearing is scheduled for Aug. 30.

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