Coleman Martin, the Austin, Texas police officer who faked his own death and fled to Mexico has been charged in connection with the incident.
Martin, 29, was arrested Wednesday, May 3, at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, Policeone.com reported via the Associated Press. According to reports, Martin arrived in Dallas on a flight from Colombia.
The officer was booked on the misdemeanor charges of filing a false report/false alarm.
Martin made news April 25, when his wife reported him missing. She said her husband had to “clear his head,” and left their home about 10 a.m. She told investigators Martin was depressed over recent family issues, and that about 15 minutes later, he sent her a photograph of a suicide note that said he was going to drown himself.
Police say Martin also communicated with another person about his true plans.
“Evidence was uncovered to lead investigators to believe that the missing officer took means to stage his own death,” Austin Police said in a statement. “It is believed at this time he is not deceased and has fled to Mexico.”
— WFAA-TV (@wfaachannel8) May 3, 2017
That evidence was an email Martin sent to a woman who was not his wife. The identified woman said Martin told her a plan he hatched to fake the death had worked, and that he was in Mexico.
She said Martin abandoned his truck, staged the suicide, then rode his bicycle eight miles to a convenience store. There, Martin told a clerk he pedaled from Lake Amistad, abandoned the bike, hailed a taxi to the border. He entered Mexico by bus.
The email was traced back to an IP address in Mexico.
Before police learned of the email, Marin’s vehicle near Lake Amistad, located in the Amistad National Recreation Area. In the vehicle was the suicide note he sent to his wife. A raft was also found in the water a few miles from the vehicle, along with evidence a concrete block was had scraped against the side of the craft as if it had been thrown overboard.
Martin withdrew $300 from his bank account, purchased food at a local Wendy’s and bought a raft at a sporting goods store. Martin also used his debit card at Home Depot to purchase rope and a cinder block, prompting police to schedule a search for his body in the lake.
The search was not conducted.
Investigators say Martin was stopped by a patrolman and told the officer he was headed to Mexico for a vacation. The patrolman noticed luggage in Martin’s truck, but had no reason to believe he was in distress.
Officers from more than a dozen law enforcement agencies, including the Austin Police Missing Persons Unit, searched for him, prompting a prepared apology from the Austin Police Association.
“On behalf of the Austin Police Department, I would like to apologize to those groups that had to take their time and endanger their lives to search for this person,” Union President Ken Casaday said in a statement.
— ABC13 Houston (@abc13houston) April 29, 2017
So far, a motive for Martin’s alleged actions are not known and the Austin Police Department has not commented on whether the officer has been recently reprimanded or involved in any work-related incidents that may have prompted him to flee the United States. A few of his fellow officers, however, told media they were disappointed with him.
In Texas, filing false report is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and fine of up to $4,000 fine. As of this report, the woman who received the email is no longer part of the investigation. Police say she got the message after Martin staged the suicide and had no part in the plot.
[Featured Image by Austin Police Department]