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Search warrants reveal details of Marengo murder


Search warrants returned to the Iowa County District Court reveal more details in the slaying of Curtis Bailey, 33, Marengo.

According to the search warrants, Jacob Hilgendorf, who turned 20 Tuesday, Aug. 25, and his mother, Denise Frei, who turns 44 Friday, Aug. 28, both confessed to killing Bailey in his Marengo home Sunday, July 19.

Jessica Dayton, 19, Belle Plaine, was implicated as taking an active part in the killing.

The search warrants, signed by investigators with the Marengo Police Department, the Iowa County Sheriff’s Office and the Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation, consist of police allegations that have not been proven in court.


According to the search warrants, at 1:50 a.m. Sunday, July 19, officers from the Marengo Police Department and the Iowa County Sheriff’s Office were called to 220 W. Main St., Marengo, for an unresponsive male who had reportedly been assaulted. It was determined that Curtis C. Bailey was the victim of a homicide.

Frei, Bailey’s live-in girlfriend, said she found Bailey downstairs and she was the one who called 911.

Bailey’s preliminary cause of death is blunt force trauma to the back of the head. Deputies observed that Bailey’s skull had been crushed on the left side.

According to Frei, some individuals came to the residence just prior to the incident to make a drug deal with Bailey.

Frei also told officers Hilgendorf and Dayton had been at the residence sometime prior to the homicide. They became possible suspects.

Hilgendorf initially told investigators Dayton was at the residence approximately one hour prior to when the murder was discovered and reported. Hilgendorf came to the residence during that time and picked up Dayton.


During the ensuing investigation, both Frei and Hilgendorf confessed to the murder of Bailey. Frei said Dayton was at the residence at the time of the murder, and that Dayton was involved.

According to Frei’s account, a struggle occurred in the residence. Frei stated that she, along with Hilgendorf and Dayton, participated in the assault and subsequent murder of Bailey.

Hilgendorf also confessed to Bailey’s murder and implicated Frei and Dayton as being active participants in this murder.

Frei stated to the investigators that Dayton assisted in trying to wrap Bailey’s head with Saran wrap and had also struck Bailey in the head with an object during the struggle.

Frei also stated Bailey bit Hilgendorf on the thigh during the struggle.


During an interview with investigators Frei admitted she had stolen a mechanical injector and later injected Bailey with insulin using syringes in a previous attempt to kill him on the night of July 3, but was unsuccessful. She stated one of the syringes was still in the house in a drawer. Investigators saw the syringe in a drawer in the residence.


According to the search warrants, after the July 19 murder, Hilgendorf and Dayton left the residence in Hilgendorf’s black 1994 Ford Explorer and went to Denise Templeton’s residence north of Amana.

They parked the Explorer in Templeton’s garage.

When they left the murder scene they took several items of evidence with them in an attempt to conceal the crime, including one of the murder weapons.

That evidence was recovered in a search warrant.

Bloody clothing, bloody shoes and bloody plastic wrap were amongst the evidence that are believed to belong to Hilgendorf.

Hilgendorf changed clothes at Templeton’s.

Investigators have not been able to locate Hilgendorf’s clothing at Templeton’s residence where he described they would find it.


Hilgendorf and Dayton drove a 2001 Plymouth Neon belonging to Templeton to the sheriff’s office at approximately 8 a.m. Sunday, July 19, to be interviewed.

Dayton initially told investigators that she had been sleeping at Templeton’s and they came to the sheriff’s office when they heard what had happened.

Hilgendorf refused to give investigators consent to search his Explorer because of some possible drug paraphernalia contained inside.

After being interviewed, Dayton left the sheriff’s office at approximately 12 p.m. to go to Belle Plaine and get her medication. During this time period she also made a call to Templeton and told her not to let the police search the Explorer that Hilgendorf had parked in her garage or “they would all go to prison for a long time.”

Police were at Templeton’s residence at the time of the phone call and overheard the conversation.

The investigators looked into Hilgendorf’s vehicle from the outside without touching the vehicle and in plain view observed a glove that appeared to have blood on it, an object wrapped in a towel near the console area and a dark colored bag in the back.

Hilgendorf has stated that a rock is within the vehicle that was used against the victim.

After receiving a search warrant for the Explorer, investigators seized plastic wrap, a rock, rubber gloves, a BB gun, a pair of shoes, a piece of drift wood, fragments of a glass candy jar and PVC pipe.

Dayton came back to the sheriff’s office voluntarily a couple of hours later for a second interview. She left in the Neon, and was driving the Neon when she returned to the sheriff’s office. While she was in Belle Plaine, Dayton was observed driving a red 2003 Hyundai Tiburon that was registered to her.

She was also wearing a different set of clothing from what she had the first time she was interviewed.

Dayton’s clothing and shoes she was wearing when she helped commit the murder have not been recovered.

While conducting a search warrant at Bailey’s home, investigators seized six bags of pills, two metal boxes containing a small amount of marijuana, three baggies of marijuana and marijuana paraphernalia. They also seized glass fragments, a candy dish, an ashtray fragment and a PVC elbow all from the living room. Officers also took two socks from outside the house.

All three suspects were arrested and charged with first-degree murder. They are currently being held at the Iowa County Jail.

Frei and Dayton both stand trial Monday, Sept. 28, in Iowa County District Court. Hilgendorf is scheduled to appear in Iowa County District Court Oct. 12.

UPDATED August 26, 2009 10:00 AM

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