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Missing Sandy woman was shot, medical examiner determined

Masako Kenley's body was found along the Jordan River Sunday. A preliminary examination by the Utah State Medical Examiner concluded she was shot at least once in the chest.

Masako Kenley's body was found along the Jordan River Sunday. A preliminary examination by the Utah State Medical Examiner concluded she was shot at least once in the chest. (Sandy Police Department)



Estimated read time: 4-5 minutes

SANDY — A Sandy woman whose body was found in a wooded area with thick brush was shot at least once in the chest, according to police.

On Monday, William Richard O'Reilly, 75, of South Jordan, was booked into the Salt Lake County Jail for investigation of aggravated murder, abuse or desecration of a dead body and obstruction of justice. He is accused of killing 53-year-old Masako Yamada Kenley and dumping her body near the Jordan River.

Kenley was last seen about 4 p.m. Friday near 7134 S. 700 East in Midvale, according to the Sandy Police Department. Family members said she left her home to meet friends for dinner but never made it. Her car was later found in a parking lot near 11100 S. Auto Mall Drive in Sandy, police said.

Police booking documents state that Kenley's family reported her missing to police on Saturday.

"Through the investigation, detectives learned that Masako was acquainted with a male named William O'Reilly," the affidavit states.

Detectives used data from cellphones and surveillance video to confirm Kenley and O'Reilly were together Friday afternoon, according to the affidavit. One of the last areas police were able to track Kenley's phone was in a heavily wooded area of 8900 South and 1000 West on Sunday, according to the affidavit.

"Utah state cadaver dogs were used, and through them, the body of Masako Kenley was located," the affidavit states. "Masako's body was discovered in a ditch in a secluded area of phragmite and tall grasses. The body was concealed beneath heavy layers of the grasses and foliage. The Office of the Medical Examiner responded and identified a gunshot wound to Masako's chest."

Nearby surveillance video from local businesses also recorded Kenley's van pulling into that area on Friday, and leaving about 20 minutes later.

When O'Reilly was questioned by police, they learned that he had turned off Kenley's phone and removed a GPS tracking device from her vehicle and placed it in his own car, the affidavit states. In the trunk of O'Reilly's car, police found the GPS device as well as Kenley's purse and one of her shoes.

Sandy police found O'Reilly early Monday morning at a local hospital.

"He overdosed in an apparent attempt to commit suicide and was placed in a locked down behavioral facility," the affidavit states.

He was moved into the Salt Lake County Jail later that day where police have requested he be held without bail.

A possible motive for the killing was not released in the affidavit.

The U.S. Postal Service, Kenley's employer, said it "extends its sincere condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of long-time postal family member Masako Kenley." A spokesman declined to answer questions, including about whether O'Reilly worked there.

As police piece together evidence, friends and family continue to mourn the mother of four who was just two years away from retirement, her friend Chiaki Free said.

"She was so excited about it," Free said.

Lively and quick to strike up a conversation with strangers, Kenley was active in her Latter-day Saint church community and had seemingly endless supply of energy, her friend recalled.

"She talks like a machine gun," Free said. "I talk really fast and a lot, but she was the only one who beat me."

The two friends last met up about three weeks ago at the Chinatown Supermarket in South Salt Lake, where they caught up and Kenley stocked up on candies. The Kenley family had been worried about Bill Kenley after rounds of treatment for leukemia, Free said, but didn't suspect anything would fell his wife.

Masako Kenley had a quirky side, Free recalled. She stockpiled toilet paper long before the pandemic, reasoning that she could use it to barter for food or other items in the event of any disaster.

On a road trip to Arches National Park several years ago, Kenley provided the entertainment for Free and a young exchange student that Free was hosting from Japan, telling stories and insisting they pull off the road so she could scale some of the region's iconic red rocks.

"She was such an angel," Free said. "We just loved her."

A GoFundMe page* has been set up to assist the Kenley family with funeral expenses.

*KSL.com does not assure that the money deposited to the account will be applied for the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries. If you are considering a deposit to the account, you should consult your own advisers and otherwise proceed at your own risk.

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