Police in California are hunting tonight for 30-year-old Modesto resident Martin Martinez in connection with what appears to be a gruesome and horrifying mass slaying in a home located on Nob Hill Court in the Central Valley city of about 200,000. Police say that they fear Martinez is "armed and dangerous," though as of late Saturday night, they are calling him only a "person of interest" in the grisly crime, not a "suspect."
UPDATE 7:30 A.M. Pacific Time: Martinez was "located" early Sunday morning by police in San Jose, California, about 80 miles west of Modesto. Police had not yet said whether Martinez was arrested, or even if he was found alive or dead, stating only, "The investigation in ongoing. No further details available."
UPDATE 1:20 P.M. Pacific Time: Police now say that Martinez has been arrested and charged with murder. The five victims he is charged with killing were all female, and included a baby and two girls younger than six years old, as well as two adult women. All of the victims were members of the same family, police confirmed. While police did not give a motive for the horrific massacre, they said that Martinez was the father of one of the children and had previously been in a relationship with one of the adult women he is now alleged to have killed.
While checking on the home along the 2600 block of Nob Hill Court at about 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 18, responding to a request from a worried family member for a check on the inhabitants' well-being, police made the sickening discovery of five bodies in the home, including three children.
All of the children, as well as the two adults, found dead in the home appeared to be victims of homicide.
But police remain tight-lipped with any further details. The identities of the five victims, including their relationship — if they have one — to Martin Martinez remains unclear, and while presumably the investigators who have spent the night combing through the home know, they aren't saying. Yet.
The police have not even confirmed whether any or all of the victims lived in the house.
"This is quite a large crime scene, especially with five deceased," said Modesto Police public information officer Heather Graves, speaking to reporters who descended on the location of the apparent mass killing Saturday night. "They're still analyzing the scene and getting information."
According to Graves, Martin Martinez (above) may be driving the 2000-model-year Lincoln Navigator pictured above, which bears the license plate number 7CNN611.
Homicide person of interest Martin Martinez 30 of Modesto, driving a 2000 red Lincoln Navigator, 7CNN611. 911 w/info. pic.twitter.com/l2ZYtP1Jrb"We came here because it is quiet," said Connie Lycan, a neighborhood resident there. "Well, it was quiet. No place is safe anymore."
— Modesto Police Dept (@ModestoPolice) July 19, 2015
"It's a community where most people know each other. It's really scary something like this happening," added Aruna Rao, 47, who also lives on Acapulco Way, one short block from Nob Hill.
Modesto, located about 90 miles east of San Francisco and 90 miles north of Fresno, California, is perhaps best known as the hometown of Star Wars director George Lucas, who set his now-classic 1973 film American Graffiti on the streets of Modesto.
Because Martinez is considered dangerous, police have asked members of the public who believe they have seen him, or have any information about him, simply to call 911 — and not to confront or make any contact with Martin Martinez directly.
[Images: Modesto Police Department]