Woman arrested, charged

Suspect’s husband accused of being accomplice, attended victim’s funeral as pallbearer
Courtney Astolfi
May 24, 2014
Sandusky police cracked the George Martin murder and arson case wide open Thursday night after almost six months without an arrest.

Officers charged Norwalk woman Bethany Sandy, 24, of West Chestnut Street, with complicity to aggravated murder, arson androbbery at about 1:30 a.m. Friday, Sandusky police Sgt. Dana Newell said.

Click HERE for more Murder, Arson on Campbell Street coverage

While police declined to comment on Bethany’s alleged accomplice until formal charges are brought against him, George’s widow, Florence, said Bethany’s husband — who is also Florence’s relative — Joseph Sandy, 33, is the man who allegedly helped kill George.

Not only did Joseph allegedly murder the man who helped raise him at times, he was a pallbearer at George’s funeral, Florence said.

“That he would even lay a hand on the casket — it is horrifying,” Florence said, distraught.

“I was devastated when they told me. I didn’t want to believe it. I still don’t. I always liked Joey and he was a good kid growing up. To have someone in your family do that ... it just doesn’t seem like it’s real to me,” she said.

Watch Friday's press conference in the player below
 

Six long months
Florence has lived in limbo now for 170 days, but Friday’s news has done little to ease her mind — in one fell swoop, she lost her husband of 61 years, her home of a decade and her beloved Daschund, Princess.

Florence returned to her Campbell Street home the night of Dec. 3 to find the structure ablaze and her husband’s life extinguished.

“My husband and I talked about it and we knew we had to go someday. But we never planned on it being like this” Florence said.   For months, police believed the suspects, whoever they were, hastily set the house on fire to cover their crimes.

They stabbed George more than 20 times, then disappeared into the night, Sandusky police Chief John Orzech said.

Investigators only had two shadowy figures on far-off surveillance video to work with, but on Thursday, a friend of Bethany’s cracked and told Norwalk police Sgt. Tom Cook what she knew, Norwalk police Chief Dave Light said.

Break in the case
Light contacted Newell, and Bethany was detained at her home late Thursday. After about an hour-long interview, Erie County prosecutor Kevin Baxter authorized a charge and she was taken to the Erie County jail.

One piece of the puzzle that had eluded investigators thus far was the motive of George’s alleged killers.

That piece fell into place Thursday after Bethany’s interview:

“From what the investigation has revealed so far, (they) strictly went there to steal items to support their drug habit,” Orzech said. “They didn’t go there with the intention of setting the fire”

Nor did they go there with the intention of killing George, Orzech said.

The pair did, however, expect him to be home, according to Orzech.

George let them in his home that night willingly, Orzech said, but investigators still don’t know what sparked the violence.

Bethany allegedly made off with Florence’s jewelry from the home. She also took $200, Florence said, though she didn’t know if George may have gifted the cash or if it was part of the alleged robbery.

Florence named a few 14 karat gold pieces and her jewelry box as the haul Bethany and Joseph allegedly stole, before taking her husband’s life.

Panicked, Bethany later allegedly dumped the items into the lake near Catawba Island, along with the murder weapon, a knife, Florence said.

Sandusky police asked Ottawa County Sheriff’s deputies to search for the cache, Orzech said, with dispatchers confirming a dive team was scouring the shoreline near Ohio 53 Friday afternoon.

Second suspect
Orzech refused to name Bethany’s accomplice on Friday, citing the ongoing criminal investigation.

He did say there were only two suspects total and the person who has yet to be charged was related to George through “family ties.” Orzech went on to say the suspect is currently incarcerated in Ohio on an unrelated charge.

Joseph Sandy has been behind bars at the Lorain Correctional Institution since late March for a felony OVI, according to jail records.

His father is Florence’s first cousin, and he knew George well in his younger years.

“(My grandson) and Joey were raised up together. My husband was like a father to Joey. He’d take (the boys) out to Coho Dam in the summer to fish and climb around like kids do” Florence said.

That grandson, Paul Doughty, still can’t believe what police told him early Friday.

“We’re trying to process everything. There’s just a lot of blank space. I don’t know that I have an emotion yet,” Doughty said.

“I don’t think we’re angry, I just think we’re astonished. Sandusky police have been very good to our family,” Doughty said. “I’m appreciative of everything they’ve done”

During the investigation, spearheaded by Newell and Detective Gary Wichman, investigators interviewed dozens of people.

One of those was Joseph himself, Wichman said.

“We had a feeling it was somebody they knew, so you start with the inner circle of family and work your way out. We drew up a family tree and went through … interviewing people” Wichman said.

Joseph was arrested on a probation violation and officers questioned him at the Erie County jail in early January, Wichman said.

“It was just a brief interview about his knowledge of George, his whereabouts, took a DNA (sample), general information like that” Wichman said.

Joseph told Wichman the Martins had contacted him in late summer or early fall to cut down some dead ash trees in their yard. Other than that, the pair had not communicated regularly, Wichman said.

Phone records show no recent contact between Joseph and the Martins — that is, detectives believe Joseph and Bethany showed up to the Campbell Street home without preface Dec. 3.

Joseph’s local criminal record is mild compared to the latest incident he’s allegedly tied to. Sandusky and Perkins police reports show minor complaints in which he was involved, along with a few drunken fight incidents and at least two drunken driving incidents.

The Sandys have lived at multiple local addresses, including East Perkins Avenue, Oakland Avenue and Carr Street, police said. Only recently did they move to Norwalk, Orzech said.

Newell went to Lorain Friday in an attempt to interview the suspect, Orzech said.

But as of Friday night, Joseph had not been charged in this case.

The case will also be presented to an Erie County grand jury to decide on potential additional charges and the possibility of the death penalty, Baxter said.

Bethany is now being held at the Erie County jail on $1 million bond.

As for Florence?

“I don’t know,” she said through tears. “I guess the Christ in me would have to love him anyway because he didn’t know what he was doing. I think the drugs did it to him, but there’s just no excuse for it. I don’t want to talk to him — I keep having visions of my husband being killed”

“It’s like a dream” Florence said. “No, like a nightmare”

Comments

WhatTheHeck

will she be free to babysit this evening?

Coram Deo

Does that statement even make sense? Good God man a family lost their beloved spouse, Dad, grandpa and betrayed by a family member at that and this is the best you can do? Truly as bad as drug addiction is your stupidity and thoughtlessness is just as bad.

Babo

Whattheheck's behavior is worse than that of a drug addict. A drug addict can argue he or she was "out of their mind" but this guy had the presence of mind to access this website and intentionally enter his statement to hurt people. That's sadistic conduct.

Prayers for the victim's window and family.

Nemesis

He must be a tourist, eh, Babo? Of course, the killer being a local is a real blow to your belief that the city's problems are all caused by tourists.

deertracker

Wow, this is some real ID channel ish here!

themomx6

How sick do you have to be to rob and murder someone, then be a pallbearer at their funeral?? Wow.

ladydye_5

That is a special kind of sick. Or crazy. Not sure what you would call it.

Stop It

Probably numb with opiates. Didn't care.

lor70

This is HORRIBLE!! I hope they both get the death penalty! How could a person kill someone and then be a pallbearer at the funeral?! He is scum of the earth and deserves no mercy!!

richrs

No death penalty. Doesn't meet the specs for it.

Blowfish

How can you say this doesn't meet the criteria for the death penalty in Ohio? Baxter already said its possible depending on the grand jury.

richrs

It may qualify under murder in the commission of a felony but as it stands what she is charged with does not qualify. It gives something can be plea bargained.

Blowfish

Complicity to murder is no different than murder. Her charges as stand warrant the death penalty. I do agree its highly unlikely she will get it whether under plea or cost.

Left Sandtown

I believe in 1978,same thing with the Ridgeway Boy`s.The Murderer was the Pallbearer.Damante I believe was his name.My cousin and Myself was asked but we declined.God Bless this Family,for the end of addiction road ends here,sometimes.

worddrow811

a person has to be WILLING to kill another human being. Saying they were on drugs is just an excuse to justify this horrendous behavior.

think about it for a moment, not all addicts kill people and not all people kill addicts. they have to give themselves permission on some level or they would not do it, period!

YouMustBeJoking

There will surely be a made for tv movie about this case. Rob, murder, set fire to a family member, then carry the man casket to his final resting place

mikeylikesit

yeah, i can see it! a lifetime special presentation. but what would it be called?

YouMustBeJoking

The Pallbearer

gene44870

I am sorry . But the way I think . You take drugs to get that high and willingly. Unlike Mr Marton which didnt have a choice . The killers you all are speaking about should without a doubt get the death panality
The take advantage of someone you trust iz WRONG . And you shoulx not get a gift . And that gift would be life and the abilty to breath unlike the rights that were taken from Mr Marton. Too award them with the gift of life after they had totel disregard for the life of another is a slap in the face not only to Mr Marton and his family and friends . But also lady justice and the city of Sandusky

MY THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS ARE THAT JUSTICE WILL BE SERVED AND THE COURT SYSTEM CAN MAKE THEM FACE THE JUDGEMENT DAY TO THIER HIGHER POWER

YouMustBeJoking

+1 I agree 100%. These two could have simply robbed Mr Martin, in order for them to get high. But instead, an innocent, kind hearted, elderly man, is not only robbed, but also beaten, stabbed over 20 times then set on fire, along with the family dog. From the sounds of it, the 2 probably didn't even have to rob Mr.Martin, because he would of given them the money. I understand addiction, I really do. However, did beating Mr. Martin help them get high? Did killing him help? The answer is NO. Why the h3ll didn't you 2 just take the money and or jewelry, and go get your dope. Drug addiction is no excuse, for murder, for robbery yes, but NOT for murder. They had the chance to back out, but instead they CHOSE to beat him, they then CHOSE to repeatedly stab him, they CHOSE to kill him, they also CHOSE to kill the dog, after all of that they then CHOSE to set the man and his house on fire. I believe this was ALL premeditated, because they could have CHOSE to take the money and run. But they didn't. I say an eye for an eye. Mrs. Martin and family, my sincere condolences go out to you. Rest in Peace Mr. Martin. GOD SPEED

mikeylikesit

that little rooster knocker..

mikeylikesit

..

mikeylikesit

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Really are you ...

In previous articles, Mrs. Sandy was relation to Mr. Martin. In this article Mr. Sandy is "also" relation. How could married cousins do this to family? Both of the Sandy's knew the Martins very well.

dbstr

@ Really are you

She is probably related to the Martin's through marriage. I would definitely say that Joe knew the Martins very well, but I wouldn't say that Bethany did. I didn't see Florence mention it in the article, just that Joe was raised by him like a son. So, I would have to say that Bethany was only related through marriage.

Julie R.

There's only one word to describe these two losers ---- EVIL, and pure evil at that.

RIP Mr. Martin.

Dr.Gonzo

Maybe I'm a little confused here....the article says the police declined comment on the other "alleged" suspect but the paper goes ahead and names him? He hasn't been charged yet, but the article clearly states he is accused of being the murderer? And why did the other article say she was charged with murder? Complicity to murder is not murder, two completely seperate charges. Or maybe I'm just arguing semantics here.

YouMustBeJoking

In Ohio, complicity has the same penalty/value as the primary i/e (complicit to murder, complicit to arson etc.) Also in Ohio, there doesn't have to be a primary offender conviction, in order for the complicity charge to to be found guilty.