Police identify body found buried in shallow grave at state park

Mother of city man, 31, reported him missing five weeks ago

case ruled homicide

May 17, 2010|By Peter Hermann and Brent Jones, The Baltimore Sun

The posters pleading for help finding Matthew C. Martin went up in tavern windows and on telephone poles along South Baltimore's East Fort Avenue the day the 31-year-old went missing April 9.

It was unlike the him to just disappear, his family said.

A few days later, police found his Honda abandoned on Woodall Street in Locust Point.

On Saturday, five weeks later, two fishermen found a partially decomposed body in a shallow grave in Patapsco Valley State Park in Anne Arundel County. On Sunday, state police confirmed it was Martin. He was the victim of a homicide, police said.

For Martin's family and friends, it was a grim conclusion to a long, frustrating search for the Mount St. Joseph High School graduate who played baseball with Mark Teixeira, now a star with the New York Yankees, and who most recently worked laying fiber-optic cable lines. His mother, JoAnn Martin, is a city liquor board inspector.

Police aren't saying much about the investigation, which includes a homicide detective from Baltimore and investigators from the state police, who are involved because the body was found in a state park. State police spokesman Gregory M. Shipley would not say how Martin was killed.

Martin's aunt, Karen Smith, said she believes police have solid leads but said authorities warned the family to not divulge details. She praised police, saying that from the first 911 call, officers treated the case seriously, believing that Martin had met harm and had not simply run away.

"Matt was a very outgoing person," Smith said. "Everybody thought very highly of him."

Friends set up a tribute to Martin on Facebook, which has now become a memorial. It's filled with hundreds of posts, many similar to Pam Kemmer Lawson's: "Sorry for the outcome. Thought we had a good chance of finding him since it was so many people searching."

Over the past two weeks, police pulled two bodies from area waterways, one from the Inner Harbor, another from the Middle Branch of the Patapsco River near the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Bridge. And each time, Martin's family grew anxious that the victim might be their missing relative.

Martin lived on Haubert Street in Locust Point and had once worked the docks at the port. He was last heard from about 4 p.m. April 9. Smith said family at first thought he disappeared after leaving a neighborhood bar, but she said they learned there were later sightings. She declined to be specific, citing requests from police.

Smith said Martin never married and had no children, though he had a girlfriend. He graduated from Mount St. Joseph a year ahead of Teixeira, a Severna Park native who graduated in 1998. A school spokeswoman confirmed the two were teammates on the Gaels varsity baseball team.

State police said the fishermen found the body about 3 p.m. Saturday in woods off River Road in Linthicum Heights. Police said they saw an elbow sticking out of the dirt and called police. Officers then uncovered an arm and called for detectives and the state medical examiner's office.

State police said detectives "found signs of trauma" on the body but they would not be more specific. Police had not made an arrest as of Monday.



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