Idaho triple homicide victims from Ogden remembered for kindness, compassion

Friday , August 11, 2017 - 12:34 PM

NADIA PFLAUM, Standard-Examiner Staff

OGDEN — In the last post she left on Facebook, Nadja Medley, 48, answered “a little survey more suited for folks over 30.” 

Her answers come across as confident and relaxed, written by a woman who was enjoying life. 

8. Last thought you have before going to bed? - Life is good.

9. Do you miss being a child? - Nope

That was June 4.

On Tuesday, Aug. 8, the Canyon County Coroner’s Office in Idaho officially identified Nadja Medley and her 14-year-old daughter, Payton Medley, as two of the three victims whose bodies were found hidden behind a shed and covered with a tarp on property in Caldwell, Idaho, on June 19. Police say they were shot to death. 

RELATED: Friends remember Ogden teacher Cheryl Baker as an ‘artistic, kind, gentle woman’ 

RELATED: Police looking for man last seen in Ogden after 3 bodies found on Idaho property 

The property was purchased in May by Gerald Michael Bullinger, 60, and his wife, Cheryl Baker, 57. Baker was identified as one of the victims June 30. Bullinger has been charged with three counts of first-degree murder and is currently the subject of a manhunt.

In a statement to the media, the Medley family said they are “praying for the truth will be revealed and we will be able to begin the road to healing.”

“Nadja & Payton Medley were tragically taken from us this summer, and everyone impacted by this, both family and friends, are staying close to one another, encouraging one another and supporting the local and federal authorities,” the statement says. 

Michelle Holbrook is a longtime friend of Nadja and Payton. She met them and Nadja’s late husband, Todd, years ago when they were regulars at Ohana Sushi, where she worked.

“They are the kind of people who are just instantly so kind,” Holbrook said. “We became just great friends.” 

Nadja, who was born in Germany, ran her own massage therapy business from her home in Ogden. She would drop everything to soothe a friend’s aches and pains, including making house calls. She was opinionated about politics and her atheism — “not everyone’s cup of tea,” Holbrook says — but she accepted everyone, unconditionally.

Leah Polumbo taught Nadja when she was going to school for massage therapy at Vista College in Clearfield in 2009, and the two remained friends. 

“One of the most giving, thoughtful people,” Polumbo said of Nadja, a smile in her voice. “She used to make kombucha, you know? And she brought me some. She was so comfortable with herself, genuine and authentic to a T. I loved that about her.”

Payton attended DaVinci Academy and was a typical teenager, Holbrook said. Not the cheerleader type, but artistic, with a tight, core group of friends. Payton’s best friend thought of Nadja as another mother. 

“They were amazing together,” Polumbo said of Nadja and Payton. “Especially after everything they’d been through.”

Holbrook is an animal rescuer, and Nadja and Payton loved animals with equal ferocity. They were her go-to call, in the middle of the night, if someone was reporting a stray or injured creature. 

“They would get up, and they would meet me anywhere,” Holbrook says. “Neither of them ever said no.” 

Members of a Facebook support group for women Nadja was part of have been sharing memories and tributes of her amongst themselves. Its administrator, Shelby Fielden, preferred that the support group’s name not be published to protect the privacy of its members. However, she said, “Most people in my group that talked to her said she helped them through a rough time.”

A car belonging to Bullinger was found July 14 in a campground in Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park. He is considered armed and dangerous. 

“They were amazing, and it just hurts so much to see them in such a bizarre story,” Polumbo said. 

“It’s baffling to us,” Holbrook said. “We want justice, but more than anything, we want answers.” 

Nadia Pflaum can be reached by email at npflaum@standard.net. Follow her on Twitter at @NadiaPflaum.

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