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Police putting pieces together

Courtney Astolfi • Dec 31, 2013 at 9:30 AM

“There are a lot of oddities here. I’m pretty confident it will be solved, but there’s a lot of work that still has to be done on this” Sandusky police detective Gary Wichman said.

The circumstances of the 86-year-old’s murder are as unique as they are puzzling.

At about 8:30 p.m. Dec. 3, firefighters were called to Martin’s home at 2201 Campbell St. after neighbors spotted flames pouring from the back of the house.

Firefighters quelled the blaze, but soon found Martin’s body in the basement, riddled with stab wounds.

Martin’s attackers set three separate fires in the home to cover his murder, police later said.

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In the month since Martin died, investigators have pursued a multi-pronged approach in determining his assailants.


Detectives gathered surveillance video from dozens of businesses surrounding Martin’s home.

The most significant breakthrough came when police spotted two people — each dressed in jeans and a dark jacket— approaching Martin’s home on foot at 7:45 p.m.

Two people were then seen leaving Martin’s home in a hurry, about 90 seconds before neighbors reported the fire, Wichman said.

Using surveillance from multiple cameras, detectives traced the suspects for a short time after they left Martin’s home.

“There are some holes in different locations, so we’re trying to put the puzzle together,” Sandusky police Chief John Orzech said.

Wichman said detectives have explored one lead in which a vehicle may be involved, but grainy, nighttime video footage has been difficult to decipher.


DNA evidence appears to be crucial to the Martin murder investigation.

On Dec. 18, Orzech said he expected the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation to return forensic results by month’s end, but on Monday Wichman said police had not yet received them.

“We’re still two to three weeks out on it” Wichman said.

Ohio BCI agents are testing multiple items and DNA swabs recovered at the crime scene.

“It seems like some of the stuff we recover is going to be key to helping us find out who was there,” Orzech said previously.

Wichman said the delay in forensic test results is not an unusual occurrence at Ohio BCI.


Detectives have also conducted numerous in-depth interviews with those who knew Martin.

“We’re trying to relive his life to see who he’s been in contact with,” Wichman said.

Included in that list are relatives, friends and acquaintances.

“We’re learning he’s an extremely generous, nice guy. We haven’t heard one bad thing about him,” Wichman said.

Martin’s generosity could have made him a target, but detectives do not believe anything was stolen from his home.

Martin’s wallet, electronics, jewelry, cash and medications were all accounted for, Orzech said.

Even though robbery does not currently appear to be a motive for Martin’s murder, investigators have been tracking down several other leads.

“They’ve had people who have done work for them around the house, and we received other information about possible family troubles” Wichman said.

False leads

Wichman said a large portion of the work detectives have already tackled is ruling out false leads.

“We work a lead until it dead ends, and then we rule it out,” Wichman said.

Police have already closed the book on four or five possibilities in the case, but have several more to explore.

Although the two people seen on video approaching and leaving Martin’s home are prime suspects, they aren’t the only suspects, Wichman said.

“We’re being very diligent,” Wichman said. “I’m fairly confident (the investigation) is moving”

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