Police collected DNA samples from the scene and sent them to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation for testing, but the materials were too heavily damaged by the fire to be of any value.
Detectives plan to try again, but they’ll likely have to wait another month as the state crime lab tests other items collected from the home. Police have yet to determine who killed the 86-year-old man, or why.
In the first few days after the body was discovered, detectives submitted various evidence and swabs of DNA to the crime lab, Sandusky police Detective Gary Wichman said. Because the lab serves 22 Ohio counties, Sandusky police were only allowed to submit five pieces of evidence for testing.
Within a month, BCI investigators determined the DNA on the objects could not be used to gather a profile on the killers.
Police are submitting a second batch of five items for testing this week. A suspected murder weapon is not among those items, Wichman said.
“We don’t know what kind of knife or instrument was used, but it appears to be a knife” he said.
Forensic evidence will likely be pivotal in the case, although with this recent setback investigators must continue to rely on traditional detectivework until DNA results are returned.
The vast majority of the work has involved retracing Martin’s steps and getting a full understanding of his life — the people he knew, the places he went and any possible problems he may have encountered along the way.
Detectives have talked to dozens of individuals who knew him. If a name was in Martin’s address book, or jotted down on a piece of paper in his home, detectives have likely already interviewed them, Wichman said.
“Phone calls, knocking on doors, interviewing people here, analyzing phone records, going over personal documents, talking with the crime lab. You’re pretty much living, eating, breathing it” Wichman said.
Investigators have tracked down, and ruled out, numerous leads.
Wichman said detectives have now whittled down their investigation to four distinct possibilities, although he would not elaborate on details or suspects.
Surveillance video recorded by business cameras near Martin’s home showed two people approaching the home at 7:30 p.m. that night and leaving in a hurry about 90 seconds before neighbors reported a fire.
Those two people are considered prime suspects, but police have not been able to locate them and no charges have been filed.