The killing of Wendy Hile in the Bethany area in the Northeast part of Lincoln, Nebraska in 1974 was an event that marred and scarred everyone in that tiny, tight-night, neighborhood. Tenth grader Wendy Hile — and her high school Junior murderer, Mark Goldsberry — lived within a few blocks of each other and the rest of us.
Decades later, the killing of Wendy Hile still stings within each of us, especially as we regress back into our childhood terrors wondering about the why of what happened so long ago — for three, long, days we only knew Wendy was missing — and we all tried to remove the rising horror within us that Wendy might never be brought back home to her family or to the neighborhood that yearned for her return.
Every so often over the years since Wendy’s death, I would do a web search for “Wendy Hile” — searching for shared remembrances of her awful death and for updated details on the status of her family and her murderer. My searches always came up empty and the memory of Wendy Hile continued to haunt me.
Then, over the weekend, I searched again for Wendy and found this thread on Topix — and all the gory details and searing pain and unending healing were returned to me with the same spite and hatred we all held for her killer so many years ago.
Wendy’s killer was her neighbor, and ours, Mark Goldsberry.
Mark, it seems, served 14 years in prison for raping and murdering Wendy and dumping her dead body in a field near Table Rock, Nebraska.
Mark spent less time in prison than Wendy was alive and he now has a family of his own and a good job allegedly working for the University of Nebraska-Omaha.
Did Wendy Hile get justice for her rape and murder? Is 14 years enough of a punishment for Mark Goldsberry’s crimes?
If Mark raped and killed Wendy today — would he ever see the free light of day again? Or would the electrocutioner’s hand have found his head?
A crime like Mark’s can never be abided in a small town neighborhood — and so, back then, the search was on to pin a reason on Mark’s rape and murder — because if a reason couldn’t be found, then that meant Mark’s upbringing, his environment, his parents, his family, his neighborhood, and all of us, were all were factors in the evil that formed Mark… and that would never be acceptable to the community.
So… it was determined somehow… that Mark Goldsberry’s rape and murder of Wendy Hile was somehow influenced by some sort of head injury he had suffered… and while that reason could never bring Wendy back to us…. it was enough of an excuse to lift the neighborhood — the rest of us — from the hook of blame for her killing. Mark was sick. Mark was injured. Mark didn’t know what he was doing…
…hushing up was always better than showing down…
… so we tried to come to terms with the excuse that Mark didn’t mean to rape and kill Wendy and dump her body in a field and keep it all a secret for three days… Mark was really not like us… even though he was among us… maybe Mark had no memory of his actions… Mark couldn’t be blamed for a premeditated murder and the rape of Wendy… all after he invited her into his car on a rainy day for a ride to school.
We all still hate Mark Goldsberry and there’s no way any of us who knew Wendy could ever believe that her life was worth 14 years in prison — and so we all continue to suffer in silence — but bound by our shared experience of the living terror that we learned can lurk in our neighbors and bind us to our darkest disappointments.
Mark Goldsberry not only raped and killed Wendy Hile — he stole the childhood innocence and the assumed security of an entire neighborhood — and for that, he will be eternally damned and there is no escape from all of us who remember Wendy Hile because we will never forget who killed Wendy.
Mark Goldsberry killed Wendy Hile.
Wendy Hile will one day live again at WendyHile.com.