Case of the Month: Michelle Martinko. Michelle was found murdered around 4am on December 20, 1979 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Police discovered her body in the parking lot of the Westdale Mall. The Kennedy High School senior (18) had been stabbed to death in the family Buick.
Michelle’s murder remains ever present for her family members.“I think more of the season than the exact date,” said Janelle Stonebraker, Martinko’s sister. “But it’s always with us.”
Michelle’s parents, Janet and Albert Martinko, never recovered from her death.”Before the murder, Janet Martinko had been a lively, outgoing woman. Afterward, she didn’t want to be seen in public. She was reluctant even to go to the grocery store. Both Martinkos plunged themselves into painful seclusion and suffered from health problems until their deaths — Al in 1995, Janet in 1998.
They went to their graves believing an ex-boyfriend of Michelle’s had killed her, Janelle Stonebraker said. It turned out they were wrong.”
He was exonerated by DNA.
Yes, there is DNA in Michelle’s case. Police will not tell you where they found it but they are convinced it was left behind by the killer. And there are more developments in the Martinko case.
In January 2013, Jody Ewing from Iowa Cold Cases received a handwritten letter that she immediately gave to the police. The anonymous tipster pointed to Michelle’s former brother-in-law (Janelle’s ex-husband). He too was exonerated by DNA.
Michelle’s crime scene seems to say that she had to be erased from life, never to be remembered again. Michelle was not sexually assaulted and all her money was still in the car. This eliminates a number of motives for this crime and indicates (at least to me) that whoever killed Michelle was not a stranger.
People are still discussing this case and police is still actively involved. If you have any information, please contact Det. Doug Larison at (319) 286-5412.
R.I.P. Michelle Martinko