MARION COUNTY -- The Marion County Sheriff’s Office says they’ve solved a double homicide case from 2006 -- and the suspect may be responsible for some 30 murders across the country.
A major break in the case came on Feb. 27 when lab results from a cigarette butt recovered inside the victims’ truck revealed a DNA profile of Jose Martinez.
Deputies said Martinez shot Javier Huerta and Gustavo Olivares-Rivas on Highway 19 just north of State Road 40 in the Ocala National Forest back in Nov. 8, 2006.Both victims were found inside a pickup truck with multiple gunshot wounds.
At the time, Marion County deputies didn’t know what the Volusia Construction workers were doing there, or why they were killed. As years passed, the case was turned over to cold case investigators.
“What we are trying to do is go over every item and start from the beginning,” said Inspector Felix Rodriguez with the Marion County Sheriff's Office.
Detectives noticed a cigarette butt in a soda can that had never been processed. On a hunch they sent it to FDLE and it came back with 50 year-old Jose Manuel Martinez’s DNA.
When they went looking for him, they realized he was already wanted for a murder in Alabama. He was captured crossing the Mexican border in Arizona last month, and Marion County Detectives went to talk him. They were shocked at what he said.
“From his statements, he’s killed over 30 people throughout the United States so this is what he does, he’s an individual who goes around and collects debts for the cartels and kills people,” said Det. TJ Watts with the sheriff's office.They say Martinez confessed to luring Huerta and his co-worker to a Volusia County construction site, because Huerta had stolen 10 kilos of cocaine worth $210,000. Martinez told deputies Huerta paid him the money, but it wasn’t enough.
“He didn’t want people to identify him at a later date, that’s why he killed them," Watts said. "Normally when he goes and collects debts he kills people.”
Investigators say Martinez thought he collected all his cigarette butts, but apparently seeing the writing on the wall he was ready come clean about everything, and has already confessed to 11 murders in California.
“He had information that only the killer would know and after he confessed to it, he said it was time for him to pay up for all the bad things he’s done throughout his life,” Watts said.
Investigators say Martinez wouldn’t say who he was working for in the Mexican drug cartel for fear of safety for his family.
Marion County has put a hold on Martinez pending the outcome of that murder charge in Alabama.