July 11, 2013
“If I didn’t do the job, someone would have. … They hired the best.”
Jose Manuel Martinez has been charged in shooting death of 32-year-old Jose Ruiz of Decatur. Ruiz’s body was found off County Road 84 in Speake on March 4. Martinez was arrested in Yuma, Ariz. while attempting to cross the border from Mexico. He was extradited to Lawrence County.
Jaime Roman Romero of Huntsville has also been charged in this crime, but the charges against him have been dropped because of Martinez’ confessions, according to WHNT.
When they found Martinez, 51, in an Alabama jail, he confessed not only to being responsible for the double homicide, but also said he had killed more than 30 other people across the country working as a hitman.
Here’s what you should know about this allegedly prolific contract killer.
Lawrence County Sheriff Gene Mitchell said Martinez confessed to killing Ruiz and then told investigators about other murders across the country. He allegedly confessed to 30 killings, with his first at age 16. The claim has yet to be verified, according to WHNT.
WHNT reports Martinez has been linked to two unsolved killings in Florida and at least 10 more in California.
Authorities say Martinez has been cooperative with their investigation and open about the case involving Ruiz.
“He went through the case and gave us information that no one else would have had,” Mitchell told WHNT.
CNN reports Martinez told investigators the deaths were part of his work as a hit man for Mexican drug cartels. CNN reports Martinez told investigators, “I’m the guy that pays you a visit if you don’t pay.”
Martinez allegedly told investigators this was his job and how he fed his family, as well as that someone else would do it if he didn’t, according to CNN.
Martinez claims he tortured Olivares-Rivas, and then tied both men up and shot them.
Although Martinez would not reveal who allegedly hired him to do the job, he told authorities.
CNN reports Martinez kept 25 percent of what he collected from overdue dealers before killing them.
Authorities say Ruiz’s murder was not drug-related but did not give a motive, WHNT reports.
“There’s gonna be others I think he’ll tell us about as we go along, and we’ll continue to work with him and see how far we get with it,” Mitchell told WHNT. Martinez’s daughter lives in Huntsville but declined comment, according to WHNT.
By Greg Botelho and Cristy Lenz, CNN
Investigators thought Jose Martinez may have had something to do with the shooting of an Alabama man, found dead by hunters on a forest’s edge.
Little did they know.
The 52-year-old Californian confessed to pulling the trigger in that March killing, the Lawrence County, Alabama, Sheriff’s Office announced Thursday. He didn’t stop there: Martinez also admitted killing more than 30 men in all, much like he did Jose Ruiz.
“Killing people doesn’t seem to affect him,” sheriff’s Capt. Tim McWhorder said.
As of Thursday, authorities had identified 13 violent deaths linked to Martinez since his admission. At least 10 of those occurred in California, according to McWhorder.
He’s also been tied — by a DNA match to a cigarette butt found inside a victim’s truck — to a 2006 double homicide in Ocala, Florida, the Marion County, Florida, Sheriff’s Office announced Wednesday.
Martinez explained that his record of violence has to do with his job as an enforcer for Mexican drug cartels. A U.S. citizen, he’d be called when someone hadn’t lived up to their obligations.
As he told investigators, “I’m the guy that pays you a visit if you don’t pay.”
Opinion: Looking into the minds of killers
The killing of Jose Ruiz, though, was personal, authorities say.
As McWhorder explained, the two had entered into “some type of business arrangement” in Alabama, where Ruiz lived in Decatur and Martinez had family.
While working together, Ruiz bad-mouthed the girlfriend of another man, Jamie Romero, calling her names and “a bad woman.”
Apparently, he didn’t know that Romero’s girlfriend was also Martinez’s daughter.
That happened in January. Stewing on it for two months, Martinez returned to Alabama having “made up his mind he was going to kill him,” McWhorder said.
That’s what authorities now believe happened. All three men — Ruiz, Romero and Martinez — drove in Romero’s truck to the outskirts of Bankhead National Forest.
Ruiz didn’t make it out alive.
Authorities found evidence linking Romero to the death and arrested him a few days later. Romero said that earlier on the day of Ruiz’s death, he’d been with Martinez. When investigators questioned him, Martinez admitted he’d been with Romero that day but denied having anything to do with that killing, according to the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office.
As rumors swirled, and the investigation went forward, authorities came to believe Martinez had lied.
An arrest warrant was issued for him, and he was picked up in Yuma, Arizona, just over the border from Mexico, where McWhorder said he’d been visiting family. The sheriff’s captain said authorities now believe “that Romero may not have known that the murder was going to take place.”
On June 3, Martinez was brought back to Alabama and charged with felony murder in Ruiz’s death. That’s where he was Wednesday, in Lawrence County Jail, after a judge ordered him held without bail.
More charges, and more answers, may be coming as authorities probe his possible connection to more killings from coast to coast.