Copyright © 2018 Albuquerque Journal
Aug. 24, 2016: Around 4:30 a.m. officers were called to the Arroyo Villas apartments on Irving and Golf Course NW to find Victoria’s body strangled, stabbed, dismembered and on fire in her mother’s bathroom. After an all-day investigation and interviews with the three people present when police were called, Albuquerque Police Department homicide detectives arrest Victoria’s mother, Michelle Martens, her boyfriend Fabian Gonzales, and his cousin Jessica Kelley.
Sept. 8, 2016: All three suspects are indicted on multiple charges, including intentional abuse of a child, aggravated criminal sexual penetration, murder and tampering with evidence. A week later, bond is raised to $1.5 million cash for Martens and retained at $1 million cash each for Gonzales and Kelley.
November 2016: An autopsy by the Office of the Medical Investigator is completed and finds that Victoria had an STD, meaning she had most likely been raped at some point in the weeks or months leading up to her death. The autopsy also determined that no drugs were in her system and that although a little bit of ethanol was, it came from decomposition – contradicting Michelle Martens’ story that Victoria had been given meth.
January 2017: Raú l Torrez takes office as the 2nd Judicial District Attorney and begins to review the case and what still needs to be done to bring it to trial. He is concerned about some aspects of the investigation and follow up procedures. He taps Greer Rose as the lead prosecutor on the case and eventually forms a team that consists of Rose, prosecutor James Grayson, a paralegal and two APD detectives.
Feb. 1, 2017: The DA’s office sends DNA evidence to the New Mexico Department of Public Safety to be tested, since it had not yet been tested by APD’s crime lab. APD’s crime lab had stopped testing DNA that winter while they trained staff on new processes and installed new equipment.
March 2017: Prosecutors begin conducting pre-trial interviews on the case and turning over discovery to the suspects’ defense attorneys. In all, they did nearly 200 interviews and turned over more than 100 discoveries.
May 2017: Prosecutors first reach out to Michael Welner, a forensic psychiatrist. He begins analyzing statements Martens gave to police, and starts interviewing people who know her.
June 2017: Testing reveals that a male partial DNA sample found on Victoria’s lower back did not come from Gonzales. It was most likely from saliva, sweat or skin cells.
Late June 2017: An expert crime scene reconstructionist begins consulting with prosecutors about additional DNA testing that needs to be done.
August 2017: Prosecutors consult with DNA Labs International out of Florida about testing mixed DNA samples that were found on Victoria’s body and at the scene. That technology is not available anywhere in New Mexico.
Late August 2017: Request a ninth round of DNA testing from DPS and receive the results the next month.
Late September 2017: Investigators collect buccal swabs from all first responders and law enforcement who were at the scene of Victoria’s homicide to rule them out as the source of the DNA found on her back. Those swabs are sent to the DPS lab in early October.
November 2017: DNA Lab International is sent to the DA.
December 2017: Additional items are sent to the lab for testing.
January 2018: DNA results rules out the possibility that law enforcement or first responders had left the DNA sample on Victoria’s back.
April 2018: Information from a search of Google Maps and location services are returned to the District Attorney’s Office. They show that Martens and Gonzales were not at the scene at the time of Victoria’s death.
March 2018: Dr. Welner meets with Martens and evaluates her personality and how it could have contributed to the incorrect statements she made to police.
Late June 2018: FBI records on phones and electronics are returned to the District Attorney’s Office. Torrez announces that murder and rape charges are being dropped against Martens and Gonzales. Martens pleads guilty to lesser charges in a plea bargain.
Going forward: Gonzales still faces some charges, including tampering with evidence and child abuse, although he is no longer charged with murder and rape. Kelley still faces murder and rape charges and is scheduled to go to trial in January 2019.
In searching for the mystery suspect, investigators continue to compare the partial DNA found at the scene with “persons of interest.” As of July 1, the DNA has been compared to 16 men – five of whom had been ruled out. Results for the other 11 were pending, and others are expected to be tested in the future. Authorities continue to follow new leads.