Joselyn Martinez tracks down father's killer after 26 years

Joselyn Martinez tracks down father's killer after 26 years
Joselyn Martinez, with her father Jose. (Martinez family photo)

Jose Martinez was shot and killed outside the restaurant he owned with his wife in New York City on November 22, 1986.

The man who allegedly killed him, then 16-year-old Justo Santos, nearly got away with the crime: For 26 years, he evaded capture by fleeing the country. Thanks to the work of Martinez's daughter, Joselyn, an aspiring actress, Santos is once again behind bars.


After the shooting, Santos escaped to the Dominican Republic. There, New York police learned, he was incarcerated for murder, but after just a year, he was released. Police closed the case in New York in 1988.

But for Joselyn Martinez, that just wasn't good enough.

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Joselyn was just nine years old at the time her father was killed, but when she was old enough, she enrolled in law school. Upon learning no statute of limitations exists on homicides, she decided to look into the case herself.

When officers at the NYPD 34th precinct told her the case was closed and the suspect out of reach, Joselyn Martinez turned to the Internet and social media to help her track Santos down.

She saved information and pictures, even paid $300 to conduct online background checks.

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Then, after 10 years of searching on her own, she approached the police in January to present her case. With Joselyn Martinez's help, cold case officers were able to locate Santos in Miami, where he was arrested.

Miami-Dade police said Santos confessed Thursday to killing Jose Martinez, and are working with New York to bring him back to face charges.

"She's the person most responsible for finding her father's killer," NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne said. "She did outstanding work."

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Although Joselyn Martinez credited the police with being responsive and helpful, her mother, Idalia, was less equivocal.

"I am thankful to God and to my daughter for never resting and didn't care for how many years," Idalia Martinez said. "She did a good job, my daughter."

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