OGDEN — Casey Baird was in Ogden again last week, and again he cried.
The 53-year-old, of Salt Lake City, said that every time he visits Weber County, he can’t resist driving by the parking lot of a west Ogden church where his daughter died after being stabbed nearly four dozen times.
“It’s been eating at me,” Baird said. “I drive past that and try not to look, but I do. I can’t control it.”
Tawnee Baird, 21, was killed by her partner, Victoria Mendoza, on Oct. 20, 2014. The 22-year-old Mendoza pleaded guilty in 2015 and was sentenced to prison. She has a 2039 parole hearing date.
A TV dramatization of the case has generated more frequent reminders of the tragedy over the past few months for Casey Baird and Tawnee’s other loved ones.
Baird said he gets sometimes daily inquiries or expressions of sympathy from people around the world who have seen the production ”Fatal Facade,” which debuted on the Investigation Discovery channel’s “Web of Lies” program six months ago.
“Every country you could imagine has messaged me,” said Baird. Most of the contact comes via Facebook.
“People just reach out,” he said, to commiserate or discuss their own experiences with abusive relationships.
The show chronicles the women’s relationship, including an incident in which Mendoza struck Tawnee Baird in the face, knocking out a tooth and bloodying her lips.
Casey Baird said Mendoza claimed it was an accident and no one disputed it. They were in an emergency room and the couple “lied to the doctor, to police. All of her friends knew it but no one said a word to me.”
He said Tawnee’s friends urged her to tell him the truth.
“I guarantee you I would have put the fear of God in Victoria,” Casey Baird said. “I didn’t even find out (about the assault) until right before the trial.”
The 42-minute dramatization depicted Mendoza’s jealousness of Tawnee’s time and other friendships. According to the show, one such episode closely preceded the murder.
The couple, who lived in the Salt Lake City area, visited friends in Ogden, where Mendoza had lived with her mother before her death.
As they were driving, Mendoza stabbed Tawnee 46 times.
Casey Baird said the British producers, Blast Films, “did a pretty good job. I think they could have gone into more detail.”
He said that when the company approached him to participate, he still had a bad memory from a 13-minute dramatization that had been made about the crime a few years earlier.
The earlier piece “made my daughter out to be a slutty lesbian like it was her fault,” Baird said.
He said his interview for the new show was recorded at his workplace, KBER-FM, where he’s the afternoon host for the rock station.
Tawnee’s mother, Dana Gunn, and Tawnee’s best friend also were interviewed for the program.
“I could only watch it once,” Casey Baird said. “I tried to watch it twice. I thought I could do it, but I lost it.”
Baird said he ultimately would like to see a two-hour documentary or movie made about what happened, “to advocate about domestic violence for my daughter.”
“You have to open your mouth,” he said.
“It’s funny, my daughter wanted to be an actress, but I didn’t want it to be this way,” he said.
Baird is bitter about Mendoza.
“They’d better not let her out in 2039,” he said. “If I’m not there, somebody will be waiting.”
He added, “Why does she deserve a second chance? She was a little snake for five years. I always knew something was off with her. Daddy’s gut feeling.”
On his visit to Ogden last week, Baird said he started crying, the location again evoking his grief.
“If you saw your only child’s body with 46 stab wounds or you just lost your child to a heinous crime like this, it’s the worst thing I could imagine,” he said. “It’s never going to go away.”
Mendoza pleaded guilty to murder Nov. 10, 2015, against the wishes of her attorney, who had planned a battered-partner defense for her, according to previous Standard-Examiner coverage.
“I have no excuse for what I did,” Mendoza said at her sentencing. “It’s the main reason why I pleaded guilty. I’m the monster here.”
A judge sentenced her to 16 years to life in prison.
“She’s killing me too, ever so slowly,” Baird said. “She should be tried again in court for the slow death for Tawnee’s dad and mom.”