The District Attorney’s office announced Friday the Victoria Martens case isn’t what it was first thought to be — that her mother, Michelle Martens, and her boyfriend, didn’t take part in the murder, and that there was a still unidentified suspect out there.
In August 2016, the 10-year-old was raped, murdered and dismembered inside her northwest Albuquerque apartment.
Michelle, Fabian Gonzales, and his cousin, Jessica Kelley, were all arrested right after the murder. Then, just before Michelle was supposed to go on trial — a surprise plea deal and most of the charges against Gonzales dropped. What’s more, investigators revealed DNA on Victoria’s body proves there was a fourth person there that night.
But who is he? That’s a question police still can’t answer. The other big question: Why did the DA wait a year to tell the public about that mystery suspect?
“Often times when you’re working an active investigation, it’s helpful to not let the folks that we may be looking for… know that we’re looking for them,” said District Attorney Raul Torrez.
KRQE News 13 sat down with Torrez for a post-interview, and he said they were trying to exhaust every and all leads they had before releasing that information to the public.
Torrez said once those leads did not present their suspect, they made the decision to release the information and enlist the public’s help.
Torrez also said there was a lot that had not yet been done in the case when he took office, like checking cell phone pings, and witness interviews — and that is when the new information came to light.
Torrez said they can’t use the unknown man’s DNA to create a composite sketch of what he looks like as they have in past cases because it’s not a full DNA profile.
However, he’s certain the suspect is involved in Victoria’s death.
“Based on the location that the DNA was recovered from and the context of where it was found on the body, we believe that this person was directly involved in the sexual assault, in the murder,” said Torrez.
He also said there is no evidence that Michelle Martens participated in dismembering and disposing of Victoria’s body, but said she is guilty of being quote, “a horrible mother.”
Fabian Gonzales is still charged with tampering with evidence and child abuse. His trial is set for October.
The DA said since they released the information about a fourth suspect, they’ve already received some possible leads.
- Mother of Victoria Martens takes plea deal; unidentified 4th suspect still at large
- Prosecutors in Martens case ask judge to allow out-of-state witness
- DA’s office asks for $600K to try suspects in Victoria Martens case
- CYFD releases review of Victoria Martens’ case