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Sunday, September 03, 2017

Unsolved Death

Unsolved - Death of Suzanne Martin:
Local bartender`s slaying remains a mystery

 PUBLISHED SUNDAY, AUGUST 5, 2001 By Monica Scandlen
One year later
Suzanne Martin's violent death haunts people every day.
Her mother, Gail Martin, thinks about it as she recovers from brain surgery
at her home in Talladega, Ala.
Santa Rosa County Sheriff's Cpl. Joe McCurdy can't let it go, even though he
is not on the case full time anymore.
Childhood friend Jeff Faulkner is reminded every time he looks at a poster
with Suzanne Martin's picture hanging in his St. Petersberg office.
And investigators believe Martin's death must also be weighing on whoever
killed the popular bartender April 28, 2000, after a night of partying.
More than a year after her partially clothed body was found floating in
Escambia Bay, no one has been charged.
"I've played the scenario over in my head," McCurdy said. "Why is this girl
dead? There's no reason for it."
The answers come slowly, if they come at all.
McCurdy has eliminated at least one man he once suspected and ruled out a
couple of theories. There are a few new details in Martin's autopsy report
that were never made public. Faulkner has increased a reward for information
leading to an arrest to $7,500.
Santa Rosa Sheriff Wendell Hall said solving the homicide is a high
priority, and investigators and prosecutors plan to meet to pore over the
case file, discuss physical evidence and look at possible suspects.
"Many times, there's a lot of hard work that's done, but you have a little
bit of luck," said Assistant State Attorney John Molchan. "In this one, we
just haven't had that one bit of luck. It's very much a mystery."
Suspected events
McCurdy can last place Martin, 38, a single mother raising a teen-age son,
at Seville Quarter about 2:30 a.m. April 28, 200il then, McCurdy said,
Martin's evening played out like this:
She left her job about 4 p.m. at Intermission, a downtown bar, where she was
the day bar manager. She went to a male friend's house in the 1900 block of
east Cervantes Street and left her car.
The man has been cleared as a suspect and has moved out of state.
They ran some errands, ate at Hooter's Restaurant on North Ninth Avenue,
went to Martin's home in Gulf Breeze, then about 8 p.m. went to Capt'n Fun
Beach Club, where they saw other friends.
About 1 a.m., she returned to Intermission, then walked to Seville Quarter
with two other men and a woman. Investigators declined to release their
names. Martin soon broke off from them.
The whole night Martin was drinking heavily. Witnesses told police she was
known to use Ecstasy.
At Seville, most people saw her alone. One person saw her on the dance floor
at Phineas Phogg's with a man. At some point, Martin likely met someone she
knew and left. Nobody saw her leave.
A fisherman found her floating near Archie Glover Boat Ramp in Milton about
8:30 a.m. She was wearing a black shirt and purple bra. Her jeans were
There were signs of a possible struggle.
Martin's death
An autopsy report from the Medical Examiner's Office states Martin had five
fractured ribs on the left and 10 fractured ribs on the right. There were
scrapes, cuts and bruises on her head, face and back.
She was dead when her body was dumped in the water. The autopsy found no
water in her lungs.
Martin also had injuries "as to indicate the possibility that the deceased
was run over by an automobile," the report states.
Cause of death: blunt force injuries to her chest and abdomen.
Manner of death: homicide.
McCurdy has ruled out a drifter from Lillian, Ala., who was a possible
He has only theories about the last moments of Martin's life.
"She gets to the other location, something went wrong and the next thing
they know, they have a body they want to get rid off," McCurdy said.
"They drug her out there. I don't know if they thought she would sink or
float or what."
Likely scenario
If Martin was run over by a car, McCurdy suspects it was not an accident. It
is unlikely she wandered in front of a car, was hit, and the driver got
scared and dumped the body.
"If you run over somebody in downtown Pensacola, are you going to take the
time to stop your car, load her up and drive to Archie's boat ramp?" he
McCurdy also ruled out the theory Martin was killed because she owed someone
money for drugs. And it's unlikely Martin accidentally overdosed.
Her blood alcohol level was .097, slightly more than Florida's .08 standard
for a drunken driving charge.
There are several male friends of Martin whom investigators have not
eliminated, and McCurdy said physical evidence gathered from the scene,
including DNA, is being tested by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
The results might provide more information.
That leads McCurdy back to this scenario:
"I think she left that bar with someone, someone she knew, and something got
out of hand. I'm confident we're going to link the right piece (of evidence)
to the suspect before it's done."
Linking evidence to a suspect isn't McCurdy's responsibility anymore.
McCurdy moved from investigations to become a patrol supervisor.
Investigator Paul Lio is in charge of finding Martin's killer now.
Lio declined to say if other evidence showed whether Martin was sexually
assaulted or whether drugs might have been in her system.
Still waiting
Gail Martin, Suzanne Martin's mother, knows finding answers may take a
"At times it's OK, at other times I cry a lot," said Gail Martin, 64, who is
recovering from an aneurysm followed by brain surgery.
"Especially when there are things that come up that bring back memories.
It's just one of those things we live with day-to-day."
She prefers to remember her daughter as the beautiful, young- at-heart
mother who told her, "Give me a boat and some water and I'm as happy as I
can be," when she moved from Montgomery, Ala., to Pensacola.
Suzanne Martin's body was so badly injured that her mother could not look at
it before the funeral.
"I saw her from the door, but I could not go in. I knew that we needed to
have a closed casket."
On the first anniversary of Suzanne Martin's death, Gail Martin and her
husband, Lawrence, 67, gave flowers at their church.
Suzanne's Martin son, who was 16 when his mother died, lived with them for
one year. He is 18 and has returned to Pensacola, where he lives with
Before Gail Martin's surgery, she kept in touch with investigators
regularly. Now, it's not as often.
Around McGuire's Irish Pub and Brewery, where Martin worked for about two
years, her death is still a topic of conversation.
For Donna Ashcom, the date "April 28" is seared in her mind.
"I still get chills thinking about it," said Ashcom, 30, who met Martin at
"I still grieve for her, but I'm angry. Chances are, the person who took her
life isn't worth 10 of Suzanne's."
Martin was going through a rough patch when she died, Ashcom said, with her
recent drunken driving arrest and drug use.
"She was a good woman. She might have messed up a bit, but she would have
pulled herself out of it," Ashcom said. "Everybody stubs their toes once in
She would "bet her life," that whoever killed Martin knew her, and Ashcom
keeps her ears open for any new tidbits that might lead to an arrest.
"I just wish we knew what happened, and the longer it goes ..." Ashcom said.
"You hear about cases that never get solved."
Jeff Faulkner, a friend since kindergarten, has circulated posters with
Martin's picture on it to make sure that doesn't happen.
A copy of that poster still hangs in his office, and he keeps track of the
case through media accounts.
"Nobody deserves to die, but nobody deserves to die in that manner," said
Faulkner, 40, a general contractor in St. Petersberg.
He is coordinating the reward for information leading to an arrest and
conviction. In July, he increased the reward to $7,500.
Gail Martin tries not to dwell on the possibility no one may ever be
"If they never find out (who killed Suzanne), then the only one who can take
care of it is the Lord. And He will take care of it in His own good time."
Want to help?
Anyone with information about Suzanne Martin's death can call the Santa Rosa
County Sheriff's Office at 983-1100 or Santa Rosa Crime Stoppers at

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