Victoria's nightmare began before fatal night - Albuquerque Journal

Victoria’s nightmare began before fatal night

Fabian Gonzales
GONZALES: Accused of raping, killing 10-year-old
Jessica Kelley
KELLEY: Witnesses saw her carrying Victoria Martens

Copyright © 2016 Albuquerque Journal

The violent sexual attack that ended Victoria Martens’ life apparently was not the first time she was raped.

The 10-year-old’s mother, Michelle Martens, told police she had allowed other men to sexually assault her daughter and said she had sought out the men online and at work. She told police she had set up encounters with at least three.

One of them was a co-worker. Two others she met online, including Fabian Gonzales, 31. He was to be the last.

That’s because Gonzales is accused, along with Martens and Gonzales’ cousin, Jessica Kelley, of killing and dismembering the little girl in one of the most gruesome crimes in Albuquerque history.

Martens, 35, told police she didn’t do it for the money. She set up the sexual assaults because she enjoyed watching.

Martens’ statement to police is included in nearly a dozen search warrants obtained by the Journal. Investigators sought DNA evidence from the suspects, as well as multiple electronic devices and a camcorder they believed may have been used for sexual exploitation of children.

The documents offer a more complete picture of the late-night and early-morning hours when Victoria was reportedly killed and provide a glimpse into Martens’ alleged repeated abuse of her children. The Journal chose not to include some of the most disturbing details from the documents.

Martens told police she used the dating website Plenty of Fish to look for men to have sex with Victoria and possibly Victoria’s younger sibling, according to the records.

“Michelle said ‘yeah’ when asked if she would agree with them over the internet or over the phone that they would come over and have sex with her children,” an investigator wrote in one of the documents.

It’s unclear how long she’d been arranging meetings before Victoria was killed or if police have identified any of those men.

Officer Tanner Tixier, a spokesman with the Albuquerque Police Department, said investigators are working with federal agencies to determine whether Martens or anyone else will face federal charges for alleged online activity.

He said he doesn’t know whom police have interviewed and said if other arrests are made, it could take awhile.

“This will be a very thorough, long investigation,” he said.

A memorial to 10-year-old Victoria Martens outside her apartmen northwest Albuquerque apartment
A memorial to 10-year-old Victoria Martens outside her apartmen northwest Albuquerque apartment. (Marla Brose/Journal)

The timeline of events that led to the girl’s killing is unclear, but neighbors saw and heard portions of it.

Around 10 p.m. the night of Aug. 23, multiple people reported seeing one of the accused, Kelley, 31, carrying Victoria in her arms down the stairs from an apartment.

It’s unclear if the girl was alive or dead.

“Are you ready?” a neighbor overheard Kelley ask Martens.

Around 3 a.m. the next morning, the same witness heard screaming coming from the apartment.

Martens told officers the group gave Victoria methamphetamine orally for her to swallow.

Martens said she believes the methamphetamine was what killed Victoria, though police disagree.

Tixier said police believe she died later from strangulation or stab wounds.

Martens said she watched Kelley hold Victoria down while Gonzales raped and strangled her. Kelley then stabbed her, and she and Gonzales dismembered her body and set her on fire in the bathtub, according to the court records.

Witnesses said that around 4:30 a.m., Martens and Gonzales went to neighbors and said they had been attacked by Kelley. Martens said her daughter was still in the apartment. Neighbors called police, who found the grisly scene.

Investigators are looking into whether Martens ever videotaped or photographed the sexual assaults. They seized a camcorder and nine minidiscs, five smartphones, a thumb drive, iPod, cellphone, tablet and Kindle.

“In my training and experience, those who are interested in the sexual exploitation of children are also interested in exploiting images of children for sexual gratification,” an officer wrote in one of the search warrant affidavits.

Investigators are looking at the phones to see with whom Martens communicated prior to her daughter’s death.

Tixier said he didn’t know what investigators found on the devices.

No incidents of physical or sexual abuse were ever reported to the Children, Youth and Families Department, according to a spokesman.

Through his attorney, the father of Martens’ other child said he had no knowledge of Martens’ alleged actions involving her children.

He is seeking orders of protection against all three suspects to protect his child if they are released.

“The petitions he filed are based on the evidence released about Victoria’s murder as well as information his son has disclosed to him since the murder,” said attorney Michelle Cortez in an emailed statement. He “is both saddened and sickened by the events that have occurred, and he will do what he needs to do to protect his son.”

At the time the warrants were issued, investigators had not found the weapon used to dismember Victoria, according to the records.

Two days after Victoria was killed, her grandparents told a detective they visited the apartment and found a gallon-size bag with a white, powdery substance that appeared to be a “narcotic of some type” in the apartment.

They also found a safe.

Police have said they could not determine whether the suspects were high on drugs during the rape and killing.

All three suspects are charged with kidnapping, child abuse resulting in death, tampering with evidence, conspiracy, and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Kelley and Gonzales are also charged with criminal sexual penetration of a minor.

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