Modesto murder suspect linked to toddler’s death

A man arrested in San Jose in connection with the homicides of his infant daughter, mother and three others in a Modesto home over the weekend is also a suspect in the death of a toddler last year, a Modesto police official said.

Martin Martinez, 30, is suspected of killing his 6-month-old daughter; 38-year-old Amanda Crews, a woman he had a relationship with; 57-year-old Anna Brown Romero, his mother; a 6-year-old girl, and a 5-year-old girl, who is a distant relative, police Chief Galen Carroll said:

“I’d like to extend my condolences to the families and friends of the victims of this horrible crime.”

Around 3:30 p.m. Saturday, officers responded to a call for a well-being check in the 2600 block of Nob Hill Court, where they later found the five victims dead inside a home, Carroll said.

No one else was found alive in the home, the chief said.

Crews’ friend called police after the 38-year-old didn’t show up for a lunch date hours earlier, Carroll said.

Detectives soon started a homicide investigation and identified Martinez as a person of interest in the case partially based on his past relationship with Crews, according to Carroll.

Modesto police obtained a warrant for Martinez’s arrest and asked for help from other law enforcement agencies statewide in locating him, the chief said.

Officers also released a picture and license plate number of a red Lincoln Navigator he was known to drive, police said.

Modesto police notified San Jose police that Martinez might be heading to a relative’s home in the vehicle, San Jose police Officer Albert Morales said.

Around 10 p.m. Saturday, San Jose police found the red SUV empty in the 2400 block of Lucerne Way just north of the Reid-Hillview Airport, according to Morales.

San Jose police investigators learned Martinez had left Lucerne Way with a family member before officers reached the scene, Morales said.

Officers were able to determine Martinez was traveling in another vehicle, which was found unoccupied in the parking lot of the Westfield Oakridge shopping mall at 925 Blossom Hill Road around 12:45 a.m. Sunday, Morales said.

Martinez was spotted walking back to the vehicle and was arrested without incident roughly 15 minutes later, according to Morales.

Carroll said the 30-year-old had exited from a movie theater after watching a film with his father.

Martinez was booked into Santa Clara County Jail on suspicion of murder and is being held without bail, sheriff’s Sgt. James Jensen said.

Modesto police have not said when Martinez will be transferred to Stanislaus County.

Martinez is also a suspect in the October 2014 death of 2-year-old Christopher Ripley, Crews’ son, Carroll said.

Christopher died on Oct. 2, 2014, according to an obituary posted on Legacy.com.

Two days before Christopher died, Martinez was by himself at his home caring for the boy, who was later taken to a hospital for head injuries, according to Carroll.

Child Protective Services workers contacted police detectives after the boy was admitted to the Madera County hospital for possible brain injuries that were life-threatening, police said.

Christopher was then transported another hospital in Madera County, where he died two days later, Carroll said.

The boy’s death required an investigation by a forensic specialist “due to the complexity of the case, especially with a child involved,” police said.

On Thursday, Martinez was identified as a suspect in Christopher’s death after a neuropathologist determined the boy died as a result of a homicide or blunt force trauma and not by accident, Carroll said.

Modesto police have not disclosed the possible motive or cause of death in the homicides.