Authorities are facing an uphill battle in the search for a fourth suspect in the murder of 10-year-old Victoria Martens — and the unknown person is believed to have been more directly involved in the brutal attack than two of the suspects already in custody.
On August 24, 2016, Victoria was found burning in a bathtub in her mother’s Albuquerque apartment, her body partially dismembered.
Her mother Michelle Martens, Michelle’s boyfriend Fabian Gonzalez, and Gonzalez’s cousin Jessica Kelly were all arrested and charged with the murder. Victoria’s mother gave a detailed interview to police, claiming that she witnessed her daughter’s rape and murder, and subsequently made dinner for her killers.
But in a dramatic twist in the investigation, prosecutors announced last month that Michelle Martens had fabricated much of the story. Phone records showed that Martens and Gonzalez were not at the apartment at the time Victoria is believed to have been killed — between 7 and 9 p.m. But both suspects were at the apartment in the early hours of the next morning, when police responded to a report of a disturbance, and found the girl’s burning body in the bathtub.
Prosecutors have dismissed rape and murder charges against Marten and Gonzalez, whose DNA was not found on Victoria’s body. Investigators now must match the male DNA evidence found on the girl’s body by comparing the samples to persons of interest. The Albuquerque Journal reports that investigators have taken samples from 16 men. The DNA testing has eliminated five of those persons of interest from suspicion, and the remaining results are still pending.
According to KOAT, Gonzalez told investigators that he and Michelle Martens saw Victoria just after they arrived back to the apartment, when Jessica Kelly told them the little girl was sleeping. The pair apparently bought the story, and did not further check on Victoria throughout the night.
According to Gonzalez’s account, he didn’t know anything had happened to Victoria until early the next morning, when Kelly allegedly came into the bedroom where the couple was sleeping and attacked Martens with an iron. After the altercation, Gonzalez told police he saw Victoria’s body, and that Kelly cut off the girl’s limbs and threatened Gonzalez. He claims he then jumped off a balcony to run to get help.
Amended indictment records obtained by the Albuquerque Journal show that Gonzalez is accused of tampering with evidence. Specifically, the prosecutors allege that Gonzalez “removed V.M.’s arms from her body,” and “hid and/or placed and/or wrapped organs.”
Both Gonzalez and Martens are facing charges of child abuse resulting in death. The case against Jessica Kelly, who is accused of first-degree murder, has not been amended.