Michelle Martinko

Michelle Martinko (Courtesy Robert J. Riley)

Michelle Marie Martinko

Homicide

Michelle Marie Martinko
18 YOA
Westdale Mall
Cedar Rapids, IA
Linn County
Case Number: 85-06117
December 19, 1979

 

 

 

 

 

 

UPDATES

Dec. 16, 2014: EXCLUSIVE — Who Killed Michelle Martinko

An exclusive interview with Michelle Martinko’s family members. See video at CBS2/FOX28.


April 10, 2014: Cedar Rapids Police Department Media Release

The Cedar Rapids Police Department is requesting additional assistance from a Linn County Crime Stoppers tipster who provided investigators with information about the December 1979 Michelle Martinko homicide.

On December 16, 2013, the Police Department received information from an individual that led investigators to a possible suspect. Investigators followed up on the lead, however the possible suspect’s DNA did not match the DNA that is on file that belongs to Martinko’s killer.

Nonetheless, the information provided was credible and investigators believe that further legitimate information from this individual will be beneficial to the case. To further enhance the investigation, this individual is being encouraged to contact Detective Doug Larison at (319) 286-5412 or cellular phone (319) 521-6003. Investigators have further questions that they would like to ask the tipster. This individual can continue to remain anonymous.

This individual can also call Linn County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-CS-CRIME (272-7463) or text CRIMES (274637) and in the message/subject, type 5227 and your tip. You can continue to trade information with an investigator. Text STOP to opt out at any time.

If the information provided leads to an arrest, this individual may be eligible for a reward. All calls are anonymous.


On Feb. 18, 2014, Det. Doug Larison released the following information regarding Michelle Martinko’s case. Email image provided by Robert J. Riley.

det-larison-re-michelle-martinko


Case summary compiled by Jody Ewing

At 4 a.m. on Thursday, December 20, 1979, police found 18-year-old Michelle Marie Martinko — her face and chest stabbed repeatedly — in her family’s tan 1972 Buick 4-door in Cedar Rapids’ Westdale Mall parking lot. The Kennedy High School senior had driven to the newly opened mall after a school choir banquet to shop for a new winter coat.

Michelle Martinko's Car Courtesy photo Cedar Rapids Gazette
Police found Michelle Martinko’s body in this 1972 Buick.

According to Police Chief Raymond K. Baker, the girl’s parents, Albert and Janet Martinko of 4312 Woodfield Lane NE, had reported their daughter missing at 2 a.m. Baker said the parents called later and said they’d learned Michelle had gone to Westdale, and officers were dispatched to search that area.

They found the car parked in the northeast section of the parking lot of Westdale Mall shopping center on the city’s southwest side, the Gazette reported on Dec. 20, 1979.

Wounds on the teen’s hands showed she fought her killer, but the medical examiner’s office said Martinko was found fully clothed and had not been sexually molested.

Detectives found no weapon or fingerprints to identify her killer, but said Martinko had not been robbed. Based on the number of stab wounds — particularly to the young woman’s face — police considered the homicide personal in nature.

Kennedy High’s principal, Michael Clover, told the Gazette Michelle would have been at the annual Kennedy Concert Choir banquet at the Sheraton Inn until around 7 p.m. He said Martinko was seen at the shopping mall about a half-hour later.

Martinko was scheduled to graduate from Kennedy High School in the spring. She’d participated in the school’s women’s choir and the Concert Choir, as well as in dramatic productions.

“She was an above-average student,” Clover told the Gazette. “She was quiet, but attractive.”

1980-6-19-CRG-michelle-martinko-suspect-sketch
Courtesy Cedar Rapids Gazette
Cedar Rapids police developed this suspect composite sketch based on descriptions provided by two witnesses.

Police said they had few leads and appealed to the public for help.

“We know that she was all right up to about 8 p.m., but we don’t know what happened after that,” Assistant Chief of Police James Barnes said. “So we are asking that if anyone saw her after that, if anyone saw someone with her, call us. If there’s any information at all, call us.”

Chief Baker told the Gazette they were starting at “ground zero,” which meant detectives were interviewing the girl’s friends and a number of young people. Some were seen entering the detective bureau Thursday morning, accompanied by their parents.

On June 19, 1980, police released a composite sketch of the man they believed stabbed Martinko. Police developed the sketch based on descriptions provided by two witnesses.

The sketch indicated a white male in his late teens or early 20s, weighing between 165 and 175 pounds, and standing about 6 feet tall.

During the original investigation, detectives compiled a list of more than 80 potential suspects. More than 60 were tested and eliminated.

In the years following the murder, many suspects died.

DNA Profile Procured

Using new technology, the Cedar Rapids Police Department was able to procure the suspect’s DNA in 2006.

At a news conference held Oct. 2, 2006, cold case investigators Det. Doug Larison and Det. George Aboud announced they had developed new evidence in the 1979 murder and asked the public for assistance in identifying a male with a cut on his hand during the time of the murder. A $10,000 reward — half of which was donated by Martinko’s family — was offered for information leading to the subject’s arrest.

In the two years following the announcement, police received a number of calls, a few which Det. Larison said provided new information that helped eliminate a few more suspects. None of the leads it produced, however, uncovered a DNA match to the blood sample.

Michelle-Martinko-1979-twirler-pose-1 Courtesy photo Robert J. Riley
This September 1979 photo, taken just three months before Michelle Martinko’s murder, shows her in her Kennedy High School Baton Twirling uniform.

“We would love to solve this case, and we have not given up hope,” Larison said in a 2008 interview with the Gazette.

“If they’re not alive, you can always get a sample of their mother’s DNA, but if they’re dead, their parents probably are, too,” he said.

Albert and Janet Martinko died believing they knew who killed their daughter, but there was no evidence tying that man to the crime.

Police believe the blood that was found came from a cut on the killer’s hand. Because the investigation is ongoing, police wouldn’t say where they found the blood or how they know the killer cut his hand. But the detectives are certain the blood will lead them to the person who stabbed Martinko to death.

“There is no doubt whatsoever that this is the killer’s blood,” Larison said. “All we need is a name. And once we get a DNA match, we’ll have our killer.”

KCRG-TV9 (Cedar Rapids) news report on the 30th anniversary of Michelle Martinko’s unsolved murder. Air date: Dec. 20, 2009.

The DNA information has been uploaded to the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), a national database that houses DNA profiles developed from crime scenes. When profiles of convicted offenders are uploaded to the database, CODIS searches its current index system to see if the offender’s DNA matches a profile in an unsolved crime.

When the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) established a Cold Case Unit in 2009, Michelle Martinko’s murder was one of approximately 150 cases listed on the Cold Case Unit’s new website as those the DCI hoped to solve using latest advancements in DNA technology.

Although federal grant funding for the DCI Cold Case Unit was exhausted in December 2011, the DCI continues to assign agents to investigate cold cases as new leads develop or as technological advances allow for additional forensic testing of original evidence.

The DCI remains committed to the resolution of Iowa’s cold cases and will continue to work diligently with local law enforcement partners to bring the perpetrators of these crimes to justice for the victims and their families.

Two More Suspects Eliminated

When 61-year-old Dennis Lee McKee — once considered a prime suspect in Martinko’s murder — died on Jan. 15, 2012 at the Iowa State Penitentiary Hospice Care Unit in Fort Madison, some wondered whether he’d taken a secret to the grave.

McKee, a convicted rapist serving a life sentence for an unrelated sexual crime, died a natural death from metastatic colon cancer. According to a Gazette article published Jan. 17, 2012, McKee was convicted in that case on evidence that he broke into a woman’s Cedar Rapids home Nov. 12, 1979, held a knife to her neck, threatened to kill her sleeping children and then taped her hands behind her back and gagged her.

McKee raped and abused her in ways that caused pain more severe than child birth, the Gazette cited, based on court documents.

Michelle Martinko Grave site Courtesy photo Laura Segall/The Gazette
Michelle Martinko is buried at Cedar Memorial Park Cemetery in Cedar Rapids.

On Monday, Jan. 16, 2012, Cedar Rapids police Sgt. Cristy Hamblin said detectives had access to McKee’s DNA through the prison system, and that McKee would have been charged had his DNA matched evidence recovered from the scene of Martinko’s homicide.

In January 2013, an anonymous tipster sent a handwritten letter to Iowa Cold Cases, alleging Martinko’s brother-in-law was responsible for her murder. We at ICC passed along the information to the Cedar Rapids Police Department’s Cold Case Unit. Cold Case Investigator Jeff Mellgren responded and told ICC the subject in question “was eliminated as a suspect by virtue of DNA.”

Defrosting Cold Cases, a cold case blog founded by Alice de Sturler, featured Michelle’s case as the “Case of the Month” for December 2013.

Through blogging and social media, de Sturler hopes to shine a new light on the cases featured on her blog.

Michelle Martinko’s case remains unsolved.

About Michelle Martinko

Michelle Martinko was born Oct. 6, 1961 in Cedar Rapids to Albert and Janet Martinko. She was found dead in her car in the Westdale Mall parking lot in Cedar Rapids on Dec. 20, 1979.

Michelle Martinko (Courtesy Robert J. Riley)

Michelle Martinko (Courtesy Robert J. Riley)

Michelle was a senior at Kennedy High School and lived at 4312 Woodfield Lane NE. She was a member of St. Pius X Catholic Church, Concert Choir, a band twirler and “Campus Life.”

In addition to her parents, Michelle was survived by one sister, Janelle Stonebraker of Davenport; and her grandmother, Mrs. Emmy Rothweiler of Cedar Rapids.

Funeral services were held at 11 a.m. Saturday at St. Pius X Catholic Church with the Rev. James J. Goedken officiating. Burial was at Cedar Memorial Park Cemetery. Visitation was held at Turner Chapel East from noon Friday until 10 a.m. Saturday. A prayer service was held at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the funeral home.

Information Needed

If you have any information regarding Michelle Martinko’s unsolved murder, please contact Det. Doug Larison at (319) 286-5412, email d.larison@cedar-rapids.org, or contact the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation at (515) 725-6010 or email dciinfo@dps.state.ia.us.

Sources:

 

Copyright © 2016 Iowa Cold Cases, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 

 

56 Responses to Michelle Martinko

  1. Emily says:

    So awful that this case has gone unsolved for so long. Hope it gets solved soon.

  2. Chris Eastin says:

    I think of this case alot when I go to the mall for some reason. One of those random things my parents told me about when I was very young and it has stuck with me all these years.

  3. Yep, I do too. I can’t believe it’s been all these years and the case still hasn’t been solved. :(

  4. I wasnt even born yet and I think about this case all the time

  5. I was 16 and worked at the mall when this happened. She was 2 years ahead of me at Kennedy. I think about her nearly every time I go by JC Penneys

  6. Adam says:

    This is a call to action:

    I have telephoned the police in Cedar Rapids about a suspect that through crime pattern analysis was very likely the perpetrator of this crime.

    This perpetrator was tried and convicted of many heinous crimes from 1983-87. A federal police agency picked him up for a series of non-violent crimes and discovered a mountain of evidence that he had been committing violent crimes against women for many, many years.

    DNA was in its infancy at the time – and while this perpetrator likely had his DNA taken by a specific (unknown to me) police force it likely was not placed in CODIS due to state laws on mandatory processing of DNA not being in place at the time.

    The Cedar Rapids PD – at first highly skeptical of my suggested suspect – came to believe that I very possibly could be correct about this suspect. That said, due to the realities of police work – the response I received from the CRPD was something to the effect that if I wanted prove that this suspect was the perpetrator of the Martinko murder I would have to go out in the world and figure out which police force in America had this particular suspect’s DNA on file.

    I am not a police officer, nor am I family member. I do not have the power to compel the police to answer my requests nor the standing to get the CRPD to respond in a more pro-active fashion.

    I am seeking a family member or a close personal friend of Michelle Martinko to contact me and I will help them understand how and why I have come to the conclusions that this particular suspect would be well worth the time and effort to vet.

    The suspect is dead now – he died in prison. But he was the father to 3 biological daughter. DNA experts that I have pursued on this specific question of whether a daughter’s DNA would be sufficient have responded that it would be absolute and definite if compared to the DNA on file with the CRPD. Authorities know how to locate and contact said daughters – and I have ample reason to believe that they would cooperate.

    This case is imminently solvable now – I need the help of a family member or a close friend of the victim. If someone comes forward to help in this way they would very likely set forth a domino effect with this suspect’s DNA being placed into CODIS.

    I am signed on to receive follow up emails to this site so any response by said family members or friends will be received by me and I will pursue that. Thank you.

  7. Robert Riley says:

    Adam
    my son is writing a story and an editorial on this case for the Kennedy High School paper, The Torch. One of his goals is for Kennedy to allow a memorial plaques to be hung in her memory. We have been in close contact with Michelle’s sister, now retired and traveling with her husband. In fact we just talked for about 3 more hours this evening. What we are proposing to do is write an in- depth narrative of this case, along with a biographical sketch of this girl- because, let’s face it- most of us who have remembered this case din’t know her- what was she like, etc? I think many would like to see other pictures, know more of her life. Also, I believe the case is ripe to be solved. Her sister is genuinely surprised that so many think of her sister 34 years later, and she has a lot to say about the case.
    With that said, I wold love to talk – maybe compare some notes and work together on this thing. I won’t be able to visit the family until they return to the country in May, but will definiteley be able to act as a conduit with them.would you consider emailing me?
    rriley@solutionsco.net

  8. Detective Larison says:

    The person that Adam speaks about is not the killer. He has been eliminated through DNA.

  9. Jody Ewing says:

    Thank you, Detective Larison, for clarifying that the individual Adam referenced has been eliminated through DNA. We’ve always hoped conversations through the comments may one day unearth a small detail someone had forgotten or never mentioned, but it’s so important our readers know when persons of interest have been cleared. I appreciate your taking time to provide the update. You have one of the toughest jobs out there, and we extend our thanks for all you do in behalf of victims and their families.

    All best,
    Jody at ICC

  10. I add a thank you to Doug Larison, if DeBardeleben’s DNA has indeed been verified to have been added to CODIS. I certainly believe that if it has, there are a number of cases that have DNA evidence that could be solved by that. In the case of Michelle, it is good to at least be able to “cross out” suspects. Also a great thank you to Jody for keeping this site going and keeping the memory and hope alive for these people who constantly live in our hearts. May 2014 be the year we get some answers for some of these families….

  11. Kim says:

    I was 9 when this case happened and I remember it pretty well, it was a very shocking and heinous crime. FWIW, I don’t think Michelle was the victim of a serial killer or a victim of a robbery or rape attempt, I think she knew her murderer. Possibly there was some sort of romantic angle involved, either she’d dated her killer and they’d broken up, or he’d asked her out and she rejected him, something along those lines. She was stabbed 50+ times in the face and upper chest and that indicates serious rage and overkill to me by someone very angry with her.

    My amateur detective theory is that it was someone who had access to the mall after hours, like a security guard or a store manager, or maybe a mall janitor. One of the rumors I heard was that there was evidence found in an employee’s only area of the mall and a quick search of newspaper archives in the days after her death does reveal that police were processing an area inside the mall because they’d found evidence, but it doesn’t say what the evidence was and it is not mentioned in subsequent articles. I also heard Michelle worked at the JCPenney’s store and if that’s true, she probably would’ve had some contact with mall security in some form, like maybe they’d walked her out to her car at night after she got off work.

    According to the articles I’ve read, when she was seen in the mall by her classmates, they said they didn’t notice anyone following her, but truthfully, who’d notice a security guard lurking the busy crowds in a brand new mall just a few nights before Christmas? Michelle was flustered she couldn’t find the store where she was supposed to try on a coat her parents were buying her and maybe the guard saw she was upset and followed her to her car in hopes of talking to her. If she knew him, she might’ve been comfortable letting him into her car…I don’t think her killer was hiding in the vehicle and ambushed her, nor do I think he accosted her in the lot, I think she knew him and let him into the car willingly. Once inside her car, he probably suggested they leave the lot for better privacy and she agreed. In that era, Westdale was on the fringes of Cedar Rapids and the surrounding area hadn’t been all that developed yet, so a quick two minute drive would’ve put you out in the rural areas pretty fast. I think once away from the mall, whatever discussion she and her killer had turned heated and he killed her, not premeditatively because that hinges on a lot of coincidental aspects, but out of anger and rage. Police said they think the murder happened inside the vehicle, not anywhere else, and she fought hard for her life, evidenced by the defensive wounds on her hands.

    Here’s where it gets interesting. According to the articles, she was last seen in the mall at around 9 p.m., and when she didn’t come home by 1 a.m., her father went looking for her. She was reported missing to police by 2 a.m. and the car and her body was found at 4 a.m.. Presumably her father and the police would’ve searched the mall lot first in their initial attempts to find her because that’s where she was last known to be at, but the car wasn’t evidently on the lot during those searches because it would’ve been found at those points. So where was it during that 7 hour span from when she was last seen to when she was found? It seems improbable that her killer would’ve stayed with the car and body for 7 hours on a rural road in December temperatures because the longer that car was out in the open, the more he was at risk for discovery. Plus, how was he able to move the car off and back onto the lot without someone noticing the activity, not to mention he wouldn’t have known if police had been alerted to Michelle’s disappearance and therefore might’ve had increased presence at the mall. Of course, in that era, because police had no reason to suspect foul play and likely chalked her disappearance up to her being out with friends and forgetting to call home, there probably was not a heavy police presence to start with, especially if they didn’t find the car on their initial drive through the mall lot, but still, the killer didn’t know that. He also risked having someone notice his own car on the lot as well, and while that wouldn’t have been overly unusual, I would’ve thought police might’ve been suspicious if they’d seen his car during their original search of the lot.

    But now a security guard would have access to the various loading docks around the mall, plus he would’ve likely had access to the standalone Montgomery Ward’s auto service center on the mall property, so he could’ve driven the car back after killing her and stashed it in one of the docks or the MW auto center, then waited until the coast was clear and driven it out and abandoned it. He also would’ve likely been aware of the search for her and could’ve kept tabs on police activity going on around the mall, plus no one would’ve questioned a mall security vehicle or the guard’s private vehicle being on the lot after the mall closed, nor would anyone have questioned a guard working late like that. And police have said they know her car was moved from one spot in the lot to another, but they won’t say how they know that, but the map I found in a couple of articles indicates both spots were near the JCPenney area, which was where it was rumored there was evidence recovered from an interior part of the mall only employees had access to.

    I know my theory may be pure bunk and there’s a lot of unanswered variables, like why didn’t a co-worker notice the guard was gone during the time the murder was committed and how did he get back in without someone noticing his bloody clothing, but still, the theory has merits.

    • agood guy says:

      they guy that killed her is dead has been for a long time only if she would have taken the coat she may still be alive today

      • Robert J. RIley says:

        Hey good guy
        Interesting post. May I ask- what makes you think her killer is dead?
        And what do you mean by “if she would have taken the coat”- what does that have to do with her living or not?
        I’m just asking- not challenging- you may know much more about it than I do.
        Thanks!

        • Kim says:

          Goodguy’s comment is actually interesting because Michelle supposedly was there at the mall that night to try on a coat her parents were buying her for Christmas. She had almost $200 on her to buy it, so it obviously wasn’t a cheap coat. So was someone upset that they lost the commission on it and killed her for it?

          I’ve been searching through some of the news articles about her death (will send them along to Jody as soon as I can) and some questions arise. Sorry for the length of this, I know it’s pretty long, but hopefully it might shed some light on some of the aspects of this case.

          How is it possible that her parents didn’t outright tell her what store the coat was being held at, did they forget? Wouldn’t it have been a lot easier if they’d said “The coat is at store X”, why make Michelle go on a hunt for it? She obviously planned to go look at the coat after the banquet, she had the money on her to buy it, so it wasn’t a spur of the moment thing where she just decided to try to find the coat after she left the Sheraton. So before she left for the banquet, why didn’t her parents tell her what store the coat was at? How could you forget something like that?

          If the police knew what store the coat was supposed to be held at, why didn’t they release that information to see if anyone would come forward to say whether or not they’d seen her in the store? They released pleas to the public to come forward with anything they might’ve seen in the mall that night or out in the parking lot, yet they were vague about actually naming what stores Michelle was seen at, even though people did come forward and say they’d seen her at various shops, including a jewelry store. Is it possible if they’d named the stores she’d been seen at, someone could’ve come forward with more detailed information about the clerks and any relationship they might’ve had with Michelle? I realize it’s a big task, but did detectives interview everyone who worked the stores that night until closing, even the ones who worked in the food courts and non-clothing stores?

          Supposedly when Michelle ran into the classmates who were waiting for a movie to start, she borrowed change from them to use a payphone to call her parents and find the location of the store where the coat was at. Did the police do a numbers dump of the payphones or of the Martinko residence to see if that call was actually made? Maybe she made the call but the line was busy, so she hung up. Were the payphones ever dusted to see if Michelle’s prints were on any of them?

          In the December 28, 1979 story in the C.R. Gazette, police mention that there was evidence INSIDE the mall that was being processed. They don’t say what the evidence is or where in the mall it was found at, but they DO say that the evidence is being processed by a private laboratory. What was the name of the private lab and why were they involved with processing homicide evidence? Why wasn’t it being processed by the CR crime scene unit or even the DCI? Did this private lab specialize in blood evidence, fingerprints, what? How can initial processing of evidence like that be arbitrarily turned over to a private lab, isn’t that supposed to be something the actual crime scene units would process in the days after the homicide as part of the overall case? Was this evidence found the same day her body was or was it found days later?

          For that matter, was the mall and surrounding lots closed down in order to fully process the area that morning her body was found, or did they just seal off the area around the car and let the rest of the mall open? Nothing in the articles I’ve read says whether or not the mall was closed as they processed the scene. I realize with it being so close to Christmas, they’d hate to shut down the mall and make businesses lose money, but given the scope of the crime and scene, wouldn’t it have been a smart thing to do to at least close the mall that day her body was found and search for evidence? There’s a LOT of places in and around the mall where things could be hidden, especially if someone had access to the mall after hours like I suspect her killer had, so were all those places searched that same day? Did they halt any trash/recycling hauling that was due to take place on the 20th so they could go through the dumpsters in the area to see if anyone had discarded bloody clothing or the knife? Did they search any trucks parked in the loading docks to see if anything was hidden in them? They’ve recently torn down most of Westdale that stood back in this era in order to renovate it into a modern strip mall, so did investigators look over the areas due to be demolished to see if anything was hidden in the walls or other recesses?

          Was there blood found on the cement or in the snow around the car? If so, did the blood go anywhere, like towards the mall or towards a parked vehicle? As many times as she was stabbed, that had to be a pretty bloodsoaked scene, so the killer had to have been pretty bloody himself. If Michelle was in the driver’s seat and he was in the passenger seat when he blitz-attacked her, he would’ve had to have gotten out of the car at some point to move her body over far enough to get behind the wheel and drive it back to the lot. Did police check the surrounding roads to see if there were any tire prints in the snow/gravel or shoulders that indicated a car had stopped there, or if there was any footprints or blood in the road/snow?

          How did he not leave fingerprints, was he wearing gloves? How did he not leave hair or other fiber evidence? She fought hard for her life, surely she would’ve either scratched him or pulled at his hair or torn his clothing, right? Police say she had defensive wounds on her hands, so she wasn’t incapacitated right away from the initial stab wounds, so how was it possible that the killer left no evidence, save for the blood/DNA found a few years ago? In the time the car was missing from the lot, did he have it stashed somewhere and was removing traces of his presence in it? Why in one of the articles did they say they thought the killing took place on the lot due to the frost on the interior of the car? They later revised to say that they thought the car had been driven off the lot and the murder committed elsewhere, then driven back to the lot and dumped with her body inside, but how important is the interior frost? Given the temperature inside the car vs. the temperature outside the car, plus the thickness of the frost, they could’ve determined about how long the car sat outside, right? Was there frost on the hood, was the engine cold to the touch when her body was found? What about the temperature of Michelle’s body, wouldn’t that have given a basic idea of how long she’d been out in the cold?

          Why did they think early on that the killer was possibly a woman? DNA shows now that the killer was a man, but was it possible a woman was still involved? Would that explain the rear door being left unlocked, the female suspect was in the backseat while the killer was in the front seat? Early statements from the police indicated they thought Michelle had gone to the mall to meet someone and go on a date, is it possible that’s actually the true reason she was there and not to look at a coat? Was she meeting someone who had a jealous wife/girlfriend and the woman came along to try to scare Michelle off? If that’s the case, maybe the knife was brought along by the woman to threaten Michelle and things went sour fast. Would the police be able to see if the stab wounds came from one person or from two people, judging by the depth of the wounds, the pressure they were exerted to create, and the angle they were inflicted? It’s possible the woman was just as much Michelle’s killer as the guy was, but only the male left his DNA behind.

          Whatever came of the suspect whose sketch they released that summer after her death? Police had two women put under hypnosis, they claimed to have seen Michelle and the possible killer in the parking lot, so is that suspect still a viable one or has it been disregarded as time has gone on? (will send the sketch along to Jody when I send the articles along)

          I know that a lot of my questions the police probably already have answers to, but they’re not revealing the info until they have a suspect, so this is just largely points I’m putting out there for consideration by anyone who has been following this case. Again, I apologize for the length, but I wanted to get it all down while it was still clicking in my mind.

          • RJ Riley says:

            Kim
            would you mind emailing me at rriley@solutionsco.net? Also- are you a member of our Facebook page- Michelle Martinko Cold Case 1979 ?Thanks!

          • Kim says:

            RJ, I’m sorry, but I’m not comfortable sharing my email with anyone but Jody and I’m probably one of the few people in the world who isn’t on Facebook. But I’m open to discussing Michelle’s case here on this site if you’d like.

    • Doug W. says:

      Hey anyone consider Andrew Urdiales for this crime? He killed a gal near me in socal Robbin Brandley 1986 just for the heck of it who looked similar – stabbing and was eventually caught in IN. just a thought.

    • Herb Hunter says:

      I like the basis of your theory, but let me expand on it a little. Perhaps it is someone she knows who is a mechanic at the Ward’s. It isn’t unknown for a mechanic to be working late (though I don’t know the details of the various shifts at that store at that time in 1979) but let’s say this person was doing some late night repairs in order to catch up and earn some overtime. He has a chance encounter with Michelle. He knows her and she is familiar with him — maybe knows him from school (graduated a year or so ahead of her) or knows her from around.

      He’s just finished his shift. He sees her in the mall. He goes up and makes small talk with her and then asks her for a ride home. He has a crush on her and this is his way to spend some time with her — possibly romance her into a relationship or ask her out on a date. They get to the car and after placing his tool box in the backseat, he gets in the front seat and makes a move at some point — perhaps while they let the car idle and warm up a bit — he tries kissing her or makes an unwanted advance. She smacks him or punches him in the nose — enough to leave that droplet of his blood in the car.

      He looses it and takes the cape chisel or round nose cape chisel he so happens to have in his front pocket and attacks her with it in a fit of rage (police reports say they weren’t sure if it was a knife, but knew it was long and pointed) and he kills her. Then he panics. But he’s in his coveralls and works at the Ward’s, so he drives the car into the garage and shuts down the lights to make it look like they’re closed for the night. Nothing out of the ordinary for a mechanic driving a car into the repair bay. Usually when police question witnesses, they ask them if they noticed something out of the ordinary. No one would think a mechanic driving a car into the garage is out of the ordinary.

      He leaves the car, packs up and goes home, leaving the car in Wards. He drives home to clean up. Then comes back. Parks the car in the lot where police finds it, and then goes back home.

      So I’m curious if she knew anyone that worked at that Wards…

    • Herb Hunter says:

      Perhaps the killer was a mechanic at the Wards rather than a security guard. This would coincide with the fact the police say the weapon was long and sharp but not necessarily a knife. A screwdriver or cape chisel?

      • Kim says:

        Apologies in advance for the length of this, my armchair detective-itis sometimes gets carried away.

        Herb, you’ve got some interesting theories. It’s possible Michelle’s killer worked in the MW auto center, but I would’ve thought he’d left behind more evidence than just the drop of blood, such as grease or dirt from working on cars. Even if he wore gloves, there’d still be traces of oil or dirt on his shoes/ clothing or toolbox that would’ve transferred to the Martinko car. It’s got a light-colored interior and grease or dirt would definitely show up on it.

        I also don’t think the murder took place on the mall lot itself. I think the killer and Michelle drove away from the mall to a more secluded area and that’s where the murder went down. But I do suspect it was someone who worked at the mall and had keys and access to the loading docks and the MW auto center. A security guard or maintenance man would have that kind of access. The December 28, 1979 Gazette article says they were processing evidence inside the mall, but didn’t say what the evidence was or where it was found. I think the killer went back into the mall to clean up and wait for the chance to get rid of the car. The spot where the car was found is on the edge of the mall lot and that probably would’ve been the area where the JC Penney and MW employees would’ve parked, especially for the Christmas holidays. I know when I worked at the local mall, they always made us park either on the far edges of the lot or over in a perimeter lot during Christmas, then they’d run a shuttle bus from the perimeter lot to the mall to ferry us back and forth. It makes sense the murderer would dump the car near where he parked his own car, that way no one would see him crossing the lot.

        I’ve often wondered…did the police think she let her killer drive the car off the lot or did she drive the car off the lot herself, judging by the position of the front seat? If she drove it off, the seat would most likely be pulled forward as far as possible so she could reach the pedals (big car, lots of leg room), but if he drove it off, he would’ve probably pushed the seat back in order to fit behind the wheel. Was the seat pushed forward or pulled back when the car was found? Since her body was discovered in the passenger front seat, it’s possible she trusted him enough to let him drive the car off the lot. But on the other hand, if her killer was right-handed like most people are, for him to attack her like he did he would’ve almost had to have been in the passenger seat and she was in the driver’s seat. The steering wheel would’ve pinned her in and prevented her from escaping. She also probably had the doors locked and it would’ve been hard to scrabble to grab the pop-up lock button or the door handle while she was fighting with her killer. He could’ve easily gained control of her by pushing her against the driver’s side door with his left hand and stabbing her with his right. In looking at the picture of the car, the sunshade is down on the driver’s side…was it that way when they found it or was it pulled down when they were processing the car?

        What bothers me is that unlocked rear door. It doesn’t make sense that the killer would crawl over the front seat to exit the rear door after ditching the car. It also doesn’t make sense that she would lock three doors, but leave that one unlocked when going into the mall or driving away from the mall. Unless she intentionally left it unlocked so he could get in and wait for her while she was in the mall…while the cops said she was there to look at a coat, it’s possible she told her killer to meet her there and she willingly let him into the car. They drove off the lot to a quiet spot and both got into the backseat to either make out or talk, but she got mad and got back into the front seat, while he stayed in the back to try to cool down. It’s a bench seat, so he could’ve reached around and pinned her in with his left arm. That might be why the only injury to him was the cut on his hand that resulted in the blood drop because she wouldn’t have been able to really grab at his face or hair, she would’ve been grabbing at his arms to loosen his grip and stop him from stabbing her.

        If the door was unlocked because there was an accomplice in the car during the murder, did they help hold Michelle down or did they come along later after the killer called them and they helped him clean up, but forgot to lock the rear door once they were done? In at least one of the articles, they said they thought there was also a female involved, but what made the cops think that? Two killers inside the car during the murder would be likely to leave a lot more trace evidence, so that seems pretty risky to me. Was this maybe a case of a married guy who wanted/had a relationship with Michelle and he confronted her over it and killed her? Then he called his wife and confessed and she came to help him clean up? It seems more likely that the door was left unlocked by accident in their hurry to ditch the car.

        As to the murder weapon…it’s possible it could be a cape chisel, although in looking at them online, I’m not sure. The March 3, 1992 Gazette article says the police think it was a double-bladed dagger style knife with a curved tip. A chisel would leave a slightly different wound and it would have to be sharp enough to penetrate Michelle’s rabbit fur coat, since not all of the stab wounds were to her face. I remember the rabbit fur coats that were popular back then and it would’ve been pretty thick as far as the rabbit skin and lining went, especially if it was well-made. But a chisel could definitely be sharpened enough to inflict those kinds of injuries.

        I don’t know that I buy that her killer was a young man, either. A younger killer would’ve been more likely to panic and not only leave the car and body at the murder site, but also leave obvious evidence behind such as hair, fiber or fingerprints. Whoever killed her was savvy enough to know they had to hide that car away until it was safe to ditch it. I also can’t imagine her killer would’ve gotten lucky enough to leave ONLY the blood behind, so he had to have been smart enough to know to remove the traces of his presence in the vehicle. He also had to be patient enough to wait until he had the chance to get rid of the car, plus he had to be comfortable enough to willingly get in and out of the car twice in order to move it around. So this was most likely someone who lost his head in the heat of anger, but then turned around and used his head to figure out how to cover up his tracks. A younger killer probably isn’t going to be able to figure out the steps needed to cover his tracks, but an older killer would.

        FWIW, I don’t think Michelle’s murder is connected to Brian Schappert’s murder. Michelle’s murder definitely feels like a crime of passion, while Brian’s murder seems more like a crime of opportunity. But I do think you’re right, Herb, that they both knew their killers…Michelle’s was probably a spurned suitor and Brian’s was probably someone who knew that with his promotion, he’d have access to the store safe.

        Again, sorry for the length of this. This case has always bugged me because you’d have thought it would’ve been easily solved, given the compact nature of the crime scene (the car) and the violence of the attack. Michelle wasn’t involved in illegal activities, so it wasn’t a hit, it was committed by someone who knew her and either didn’t want to give her up or had a grudge against her.

  12. RJ says:

    Kim
    interesting- I’ve been asking some of these same questions. Though it would be nice for it to have been a match, the recent DeBardeleben theory has a few holes…I too think it was a passionate killing, and someone she knew.
    Not much in the public arena to go on as far as facts in the case…the paper did mention the evidence in the mall, but never mentioned again…the moved car is very odd..Barnes said that she was supposed to meet someone for a date that evening-not sure if that is correct, or who said that-her family says she was expected home by 10, was a school night, test the next day…paper says she was asked at mall by some friends to see a movie…it would be interesting to know the story of the supposed “date”, who saw where she parked at 7:00 and when the car was brought back where it was. Why were all the doors locked except one of the back ones? Family told me 19 stab wounds- curious as to the comment of over 50 (not a challenge- just checking).
    As for the police, I would be surprised if there was more than one on the case by that time- like you said-probably thought it was just a girl on a date out late…so I can’t imagine there would have been like a stakeout at the mall or anything-if Albert drove thru and didn’t see the car, then it obviously was put back -can’t imagine he would miss the car, or not drive all thru the mall lot- by 1 am, the lot would have been almost deserted, right?
    Lots of questions…

  13. Kim says:

    RJ-

    It’s the December 28, 1979 edition of the Cedar Rapids Gazette that mentions police were processing evidence from a store inside Westdale. No further mention of the evidence in any other articles that I can find so far.

    I apologize for any confusion, I should have clarified in my post that it was an acquaintance of mine who’d worked with Michelle at JCPenney that told me Michelle had been stabbed 50+ times. I also thought I’d read that same info in one of the news articles as well, so I’m trying to search the archives to verify, but not having much luck so far. It was also that same acquaintance who told me they’d found evidence inside the mall in an ’employees only’ area near JCPenney.

    From what I’ve read in the Gazette archives, she wasn’t there at Westdale to meet anyone to go on a date, she was there to try on a coat her parents were buying her for Christmas. Before going to the mall, she’d been at a banquet for the Kennedy choir over at the Sheraton Inn, and once the banquet let out, she went to the mall. Some classmates were at the mall as well, waiting for the movie to start over at the nearby theater, and when she ran into them, they invited her to attend the movie with them. She declined and borrowed some change from them to call her parents to see what store the coat was at, and it was at that point her classmates said she was upset because she couldn’t find the store. Whether she made that call home or not, it’s not clear. The detail about all the car doors except one rear door being unlocked is definitely puzzling and I’m not sure what part it plays in the case…were the doors originally unlocked when the killer first got into her vehicle and then because he maybe couldn’t remember if they were locked or unlocked, he decided to lock them when he ditched the car, but skipped the one rear door?

    The map I found in the January 25, 1980 Gazette indicates her car was evidently first parked in the northwest lot on one side of JCPenney’s, facing Wilson Ave. That was probably where she parked the car to go into the mall…it’s not the lot directly in front of Penney’s main entrance, it’s more in front of the mall’s main entrance, if my memory of how Westdale is laid out serves me right. The car was found in the far edge of the northeast lot on the other side of Penney’s, the lot runs along the Edgewood Rd. side and was closer to the standalone strip mall that held the Econofoods store. So both spots are around the JCPenney area, just on different sides.

    • Herb Hunter says:

      But where they found her car was a straight line from the Ward’s standalone mechanic shop (which if I remember right is the Veridian Credit union in this pic:
      https://res.cloudinary.com/cslistings/image/upload/t_cslisting/v1/s3/cdx.xceligent.com/Attachments/890/2731890

      If he killed her in the car where it was first parked, then drove it around to hide it in the repair bay, he could then drive it to where it was found after Michelle’s father and the police first searched the lot.

      Maybe he was in there watching. Lights off. Thinking about his next move, wondering if anyone saw him.

      This would also give him control of the car in a concealed area — I mean I don’t think her father or police are going to bother to look in the Ward’s repair shop. And perhaps he sat in there watching as he contemplated what to do next.

      Maybe he wiped the car clean — all the places he thought he’d touched. Perhaps even wiped up the blood from his bloody nose after she struck him — all but the drop they found, him think that was her blood.

      Then after he watched the police search the lot the first time, decided to drive her car next to where his was parked. Is in it common for an employee to park far away from the business in order to allow the customers to park closer?

      The police had a composite of a suspect. . .does it match any mechanics at the Wards at that time? Did they ever find this guy, question and clear him?https://iowacoldcases.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/1980-6-19-CRG-michelle-martinko-suspect-sketch.jpg

      • Kim says:

        Sorry if this double posts, my first post disappeared into the netherworld, it seems.

        Yeah, where the car was found is a nearly straight shot from the MW auto center (where Veridian is at on the map you linked). It was found near the spot where the standalone Econofoods store sat (now a US Bank). IIRC, the auto center had pretty big windows and it was situated on a bit of a hill, so that would’ve given someone a good view of that whole east side of the lot. It also set far enough away from the mall itself that probably no one thought to look for Michelle there. Plus with it being an auto store, she wouldn’t have had any reason to be there since she was allegedly looking for a coat that was on hold in one of the stores. I don’t think the killing took place on the lot itself, although early police theories did say they felt it had happened on the lot. They later revised their theory to state that they thought it had taken place off the lot on one of the side roads near the mall.

        The blood drop didn’t come from his nose, he cut his hand during the stabbing. According to the above profile: “Police believe the blood that was found came from a cut on the killer’s hand. Because the investigation is ongoing, police wouldn’t say where they found the blood or how they know the killer cut his hand. But the detectives are certain the blood will lead them to the person who stabbed Martinko to death.”

        In this article: https://iowacoldcases.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/1979-12-28-crg-michelle-martinko-new-plea.png police say they’d found evidence in a store inside the mall and were processing it (well, an outside company was processing it), but they never said what the evidence was or where it was found. I had heard from a woman who worked in the mall at the time of Michelle’s murder and she told me it was blood they’d found and it was in an interior hallway near JC Penney’s that only store or mall employees had access to. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I have no reason to think she was lying about it.

        It’s pretty common for malls/stores to ask their employees to park in the farthest spots away from the building, especially during big sales events or Christmas. They want customers to have those spots. When I worked at the mall, on Black Friday we had to start parking way off on the far edges of the lot or else park in the perimeter lot that was across the way from the mall. They ran a shuttle bus to pick us up from our cars and take us to the mall. It was a huge pain and I never ever saw any customers actually using those coveted spots during the Christmas rush.

        They never said if they’d found the guy in the sketch or not. It was a hot lead for awhile but it seems in later years, the suspect sketch wasn’t mentioned much. Even when they announced they’d found his DNA, they didn’t rerelease the sketch and say “this guy is a possible suspect in the killing.” I don’t know if they eventually discounted it because it was obtained through hypnosis or if they just figured in the end the guy wasn’t a suspect. It’s possible he had no connection to the killing and was just some guy who happened to be in the same area Michelle was when the two women saw her.

        • Herb Hunter says:

          Kim, thank you for the expanded information, not living in the area and being only a child at the time of Michelle’s murder, your memory of Westdale is helpful. So a few things I might offer based on your above reply:

          1) I think the assumption is correct that Michelle knew her killer. I think, after reading through the archive of this case and your comments, the person who killed her is what I would call an outlier friend — someone she knew, but her family didn’t know about and her close circle of friends maybe only know by his face or first name. So if we assume this composite is based on someone the two witnesses saw with Michelle (in the parking lot?) and this composite was arrived at under hypnosis, the reason hypnosis was used is because nothing out of the ordinary was happening when the two of them were observed together — these witnesses just saw her with some guy. I say this because if there was some sort of altercation between Michelle and this guy, the witnesses would remember him in more detail.

          Of course this composite was most likely the composition of two eye witnesses, so the hair might be right, but the eyes wrong; the chin right, but lips wrong. . .etc, etc . . .

          2) I offered a cape chisel as the means (weapon) because of what I’d read in an article written days after the murder — that the police were unsure if it was a knife. The means often gives us insight into the who and where of the crime. However, as I read more about it, coupled with your comment about it being a curved dagger, as well as the fact the attack seemed to focus on her face, I have a new theory about the means as well as the occupation: I think the security guard theory is the most plausible because of this: http://www.osograndeknives.com/images/products/large_26417_CO045S-01.jpg

          This is what is known as a push dagger. It is a concealable, self defense weapon — something a security guard might carry for self defense while on the job. The reason I think this was the means? Because when you attack someone with a standard knife you stab them in the neck, chest, or abdomen. However, a push dagger is held between the index and middle finger, and you make a fist around it — and where are you most likely to punch someone with your fist? — in their face.

          And remember, 1979 was way before the internet, and if the theory is that the killer was a local, then there were probably few stores in the area at the time that sold such an item.

          3) I believe Michelle and the killer left in her car for reasons only Michelle and the killer know. IIRC, Westdale was on the edge of the country back then. In fact, I can remember in the 1990s, when I was a teenager, going from Westdale, south on Edgewood toward the airport, that would put you in the country pretty quickly. So for whatever reason, the two of them wanted to be away from prying eyes. Then something happened, he killed her, and probably drove the car back, perhaps hiding it in the MW auto center after it had closed. I also think he may have moved her body from the front seat to the back. If you’re going to drive back into town, you probably aren’t going to do with a dead body in the front seat. Plus, like I theorized, he needed to get his car which was parked near where eventually found the Buick. And once away from prying eyes in the MW auto center, he moved her back to the front seat when first arriving at the auto center, leaving the back door unlocked (which he forgot to re-lock) in his haste as he needed to tend to that wound on his hand.

          4) If blood was found in an employee only area in the mall, it was most likely because there was an employee restroom or sink down that hallway as well as a first aid kit — some place he could wash and dress his cut hand. And if it was after hours, it would be suspicious if he was in the mall restroom washing his hand. Also, if he was a security guard he has every reason to be in that restroom AND a million plausible reasons why he cut his hand and needed to dress it. But perhaps the CRPD sent this blood off for independent testing is because it was the mix of two blood types — Michelle’s known blood type and an unknown blood type. Maybe the two blood types had even reacted to one another in such a way that it made it difficult to identify the second blood type.

          5) Assuming he hid the car before he moved it — to where CRPD finally found it — he had control of the crime scene. Perhaps he wiped the car of all the places he knew he touched. And perhaps he didn’t move the body from front to back to front seat again, but most likely, something was in the back seat that could identify him and that too could explain the unlocked back door he forgot to re-lock.

          6) There was a witness who said she was travelling north on Edgewood who noticed something at the spot Michelle was eventually found. This was at 2am, 12/20/79. She described it as two teenagers partying. She saw the driver’s side door open. Perhaps this is him arranging the body before he finally left in his own vehicle. This also reinforces the fact the area she saw this happening was the employee part of the parking lot since she said the reason she looked was because her daughter worked at the mall, had had car trouble in the past, and she wanted to make sure her daughter was able to drive home. https://iowacoldcases.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/1981-10-3-crg-michelle-martinko-furor-erupts.png

        • Herb Hunter says:

          PS — I forgot to mention, the side of the unlocked back door may give us a clue to whether or not she was driving the car. And if the back passenger door was unlocked, then he was a lefty, since you aren’t going to drag a body around a car in order to drive back into town.

          Think about it. . .

          • Kim says:

            Yeah, at that time, Westdale was on the very edges of the SW side of C.R. If you went south on Edgewood or west on Williams Blvd., you were out in the boonies in no time at all.

            I don’t know that her killer moved her body to the backseat after killing her and then moved it to the front seat just before ditching the car. That seems like a lot of trouble to go through…he risked leaving behind more evidence of his presence in the car with each move he’d make, plus he would’ve been trying to be careful not to make the cut on his hand worse or leave his blood behind on her coat or clothing or in the car. And not to be graphic, but head wounds bleed pretty badly, so with each move he made of her body, that would’ve put more of her blood onto him. If she was behind the steering wheel when he attacked her, he would’ve likely moved her only once and that would be to slide her over to the passenger seat so he could drive the car away. She was probably slumped below the line of sight on the car’s door jamb, plus with it being that late at night, traffic would’ve been light and no one would’ve seen him with the body in the car.

            The interior hallway where they found additional evidence (that I was told was blood) also could’ve led to a locker room used by mall staff like the security guards or maintenance workers. So he could’ve gone down that hallway to change his bloodied uniform.

  14. Kim says:

    Hope Jody doesn’t mind…I’m bumping this profile page to the top of the recent comments in hopes that the anonymous tipster the police are referring to in the media release might see it and get in contact with them. The additional information they’re hoping tipster can provide might very well solve this case and finally bring closure for Michelle’s family.

  15. Kim says:

    Link to KGAN’s story about Michelle Martinko:

    • Jody Ewing says:

      Robert and Kim, thanks so much for the link — I’ve got it added to Michelle’s page. A very poignant interview with Janelle and John. KGAN did a great job with this piece, and I hope someone is inspired to come forward with new information.

  16. Kris Starks says:

    Sounds personal…a crime of passion. Bet they have a good idea who did this.

  17. there is a facebook site dedicated to this crime: Michelle Martinko Cold Case 1979—has links to videos, friends comments, archives of Newspaper articles…

  18. Sally Scholl says:

    Rumor was…., President and all his Secret Service were in town staying at the Sheraton. She attended a Christmas Party for a short time being held there as well. She was seen using a pay phone and being hit on relentless by a Secret Service guy! But we all know Secret Service do no wrong.

  19. Heidi says:

    It seems to me that Jesse Lynch you know a lot about this to but are only giving few statement’s about things. Like you saying that Dr. Michale Clover knows more than he is letting on; he might even be involved. How and why do you say this stuff?

  20. Sally Scholl says:

    I remember that like it was yesterday! How sad!

  21. Me too. I will never forget her name.

  22. Diana Wilson says:

    I hope Hesse people come forward.

  23. I remember this vividly. To this day, I hope they catch whoever did this.

  24. I could not imagine. 36 years, and no justice. Thoughts, and prayers to her family and friends.

  25. Diana Wilson says:

    Oh, God, such a young life taken home too soon. Please help the culprit get caught so he/she can longer get away with killing.

  26. Brent Busch says:

    Hard to believe this is still unsloved all these years later.

  27. I remember this case…it shook my world and shattered my rose colored glasses… God rest her soul.

  28. Humble Mee says:

    If you go to Iowa cold cases there’s plenty more unsolved murders, what the hell was the police doing and are they even trying now with all this new technology

  29. Dot Fisher says:

    They need to get Kelly and Yolanda to come and solve the case. They do a great job

  30. This is so sad, last year her sister and brother in law did an interview. There wasn’t much to go on. Which is hard to believe considering it took place in Her vehicle, one little spot of blood from the person who did it. It’s very heartbreaking with what her parents experienced and the hell they went through years after

  31. So sad. There were many unsolved murders back then. When I was a freshman in college in the fall of 1976, there was a murder on campus at Wartburg College. It sadly is still unsolved today.

  32. I detest all the unsolved cases we have just in C.R. & outlying areas. Way too many for a small city that we were. It seemed odd that her mom thought she knew who killer was but they couldn't prove it! If she fought him & the amount of blood that was found I just find it appalling that almost 40 yrs later they have nothing!

  33. Jerry Gray says:

    I remember that case. Seems to me it was the boy friend but because of his family’s money they never could get him for it.

  34. RJ Riley says:

    Jerry- yes- many, including the family,thought it was him for years- In 2006 he was exonerated thru DNA evidence. The blood evidence from 1979 was tested with modern technology and has been used to eliminate many suspects…so now they just need to find the match….

  35. Kim says:

    Yeah, where they found the car is a fairly straight shot north from the MW auto center (Verdian CU on the map you linked). Westdale was laid out kind of screwy, but the car was found in the lot where the standalone Econofoods store was at (now where the US Bank stands). https://iowacoldcases.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/1979-12-22-crg-michelle-martinko-map-vehicle-location.png It would actually be closer to the JC Penney store than MW. But the location of the MW auto center would give him a fairly good lookout spot because it sat on the edge of the mall lot and was on a bit of a hillside, plus it had pretty big windows that looked out over the lot, if I remember right. He could’ve hidden the car in there and cleaned his fingerprints from it, then watched for the chance to ditch it in the lot.

    It’s pretty common during Christmas and big sales events for stores/malls to ask their employees to park farther away so customers can have those spots. When I worked in a local mall, we parked in the spots designated for our use, which was fairly close to the store. But starting on Black Friday, we were expected to park in the very farthest edges of the mall lot, or park over in the perimeter lot that was across the way from the mall. They had a shuttle bus that would pick us up at our cars and take us to the store. It was a huge pain and I can’t say I ever saw any customers actually using the spots we were forbidden to use during Christmas.

    I don’t think the blood drop came from a bloody nose. He cut his hand: “…police wouldn’t say where they found the blood or how they know the killer cut his hand.” That’s quoted direct from Michelle’s profile above. At first the cops did think the attack happened on the lot but later decided it must’ve happened on one of the side roads near the mall. It would’ve been pretty risky for him to kill her on the lot since the mall was still open (late hours for the holidays), plus he probably would’ve left some blood droplets in the area around her car as he got out of it.

    In the Dec. 28, 1979 Gazette article (https://iowacoldcases.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/1979-12-28-crg-michelle-martinko-new-plea.png), the police say that evidence was recovered in one of the stores in the mall and it was being processed by a private lab, but they didn’t disclose what the evidence was or where it was found. I had heard from a woman who worked at the mall at the time of the murder that it was blood they’d found and it was discovered in an interior hallway near JC Penney that only mall employees had access to. I don’t know if that’s true but I have no reason to believe she was lying about it.

    They never said if they found the guy in the sketch or not. It’s possible he had no connection at all to her killing and was just someone who was in the lot the same time she was.

  36. Hikerbikermike says:

    Just came across this case and don’t have all the background like the rest of you. That said, here are my immediate impressions. My first thought this was a woman who killed her because of the statement that she was attacked in the face and chest. Face is so very pesonal….jealousy. So is chest / breasts. I just keep thinking “jealousy”, and the jealousy of a female. If a women didn’t actually kill her, did a woman have someone do this? Again, jealousy the motive. Sticking to the jealousy theme, maybe some socially awkward, demented guy made an attempt to get to know her and believes he was rebuffed. He was enraged at being rebuffed and attacked. The personal nature of the attack to the face just keeps taking me back to a female…..

  37. Chad Lynch Norfolk, VA says:

    kim love your passion! some questions 1 did they recover the $200 she had 2 the receipt for coat her parent must of rec! 3 wasnt there a knife shop there then cuttlery world 4 was the car door left unlocked broken? she figured she would lock what she could and look in the windows before getting in car 5 if they have blood sample dna and employment records and warrants got to think crpd cant miss that? 6 wheres the car now? 7 crpd probably think cut hand because blood if he drove the car on rearview mirror car door handle steering wheel maybe int roof Nose bleed blood there? i guess not impossible 7 westdale mall security people have keys and access to all secure spaces? 8 MW mech kills her drives to the shop closes the door cleans up the car fixes his hand opens the door drives out turns out lights parks car not knowing if someone has seen him or some body is already looking for her there mom dad or security and hopefully not leave any evidence back at the shop 9 What was the reason he goes to that much trouble that much time to clean up? This before dna got started mid to late 80s Just some thoughts.

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