Suspect identified in 41-year-old Atascadero homicide cold cases
–Sheriff Parkinson announced today the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office has identified a suspect in two 41-year-old homicide cases from Atascadero.
These two cases from 1977 and 1978 were re-investigated by the Sheriff’s Office Cold Case/ Unsolved Unit starting in June of 2017. Detectives received a lead in the case from the Department of Justice’s Familial DNA Search team in Richmond, CA. This lead was generated by getting a DNA profile comparison and other evidence. The DNA profile was a close match to an inmate serving time for unrelated charges. Through investigative means, it was determined that inmate had a relative who was living in Atascadero at the time of both murders. Detectives were able to identify Arthur Rudy Martinez (06/26/1948) who is deceased, as the suspect in these murders. Detectives were able to locate a DNA source from Arthur Martinez and compare Martinez’s DNA to the suspect DNA left at both scenes and confirmed Martinez killed both victims. Most likely this case would never have been solved if the initial investigators did not collect the valuable biological DNA evidence that was used to compare to Martinez’s DNA.
On Nov. 18, 1977 at approximately 2 p.m. the body of Jane Morton Antunez (1-19-47) was found in the back seat of her car on a dirt road, off Santa Barbara Road in Atascadero. Antunez’s throat had been cut and she had been sexually assaulted. Antunez lived on the south side of Atascadero near where her body was found. Antunez was supposed to be going to her best friend’s house on Nov. 17 1977, but never made it. Witnesses had reported she picked up a man in her car but that was never confirmed.
On Jan 11, 1978 at approximately 3:45 p.m. the body of Patricia Dwyer (11-13-49) was found on the floor of her home at 5510 Del Rio Road in Atascadero. Dwyer was stabbed in the chest with a knife from her kitchen drawer and had been sexually assaulted.
Dwyer told her friend on Jan. 10, 1978 she was going to the grocery store and then staying home to clean. It’s reported she would not have allowed a stranger in her home but had a key under her mat. Dwyer worked at the Atascadero State Hospital at the time of her murder. Both victims would frequent the Tally Ho Bar in Atascadero and had some mutual friends but did not know each other. Both victim’s arms were bound behind their backs by different bindings that were found at each scene.
Detectives were able to place Martinez in Atascadero at the time of these crimes. Martinez was paroled to Atascadero in May of 1977 until he left in January of 1978 after the Dwyer homicide. Martinez worked at a local North County welding shop while he was in San Luis Obispo County. Martinez then moved to Spokane, Washington where he committed numerous robberies and two rapes. Martinez was given a life sentence and began serving that sentence in November 1978. In 1994 Martinez escaped from prison. For the next 20 years he lived in the areas of Fresno and Carruthers, CA. Finally on April 30, 2014 he turned himself in because he had terminal cancer. Martinez died in a Washington State Prison on June 18, 2014. Detectives do not know if Martinez knew these victims prior to the murders and are asking for anyone who has any information about Arthur Martinez to call Detective Clint Cole at (805) 788-2157.
“We are extremely proud of Detective Clint Cole and his efforts to solve this 41-year-old murder mystery. Our hearts go out to the families of the victims and are hopeful the resolution to these cases brings them some closure,” said Sheriff Parkinson. “The Sheriff’s Office is grateful for the support of the Board of Supervisors who approved this important position. With the advancements in DNA technology and having an investigative focus solely on these types of cases, this case proves the value of having this important position.”
The Sheriff’s Office would like to thank the DOJ Forensic Laboratories in Richmond and Goleta, and the California Department of Justice Bureau of Investigation – Fresno for their assistance in this case.
“We are grateful that through this joint effort between scientists and investigators at the California Department of Justice and the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office we were able to bring a measure of justice to the families of the victims in these horrific decades-old crimes,” said Attorney General Becerra. “Here in California we have the technology, we have the know-how, and we have the will to work together to take on criminals operating in our state.”