ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – John and Pat Martens don’t sleep much. They replay over and over the recent, horrific death of their granddaughter, Victoria Martens. They also picture their daughter, Michelle Martens. Police say she just stood there doing nothing to stop it.
Jessica Garate sat down with them for their first interview On Special Assignment.
“We had hotdogs, hamburgers, the kids played, went to the pool. We spent the entire day until nightfall with Michelle.” Victoria’s Godmother, Laura Bobbs describes a fun July 4th.
John and Pat Martens say life couldn’t have been more normal. Just six weeks later, their granddaughter, Victoria Martens would be murdered. The horrific details shocked the nation.
“We’re trying to make sense of it all,” Pat said.
The Martens say all the way up to the hours before her death nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Victoria had just celebrated her 10th birthday at school.
“I spoke to her Tuesday afternoon. I say how was your party? 5 o’clock we talked to her. She said, “Oh, it was good.” Did they sing happy birthday to you? She said “Yes.” I said how were the cupcakes? She said, “Oh, they were good,” said John and Pat.
They got a call the next day on August, 24th.
“I got a call from the hospital saying Michelle was in a domestic dispute,” said John.
“I said domestic dispute? I’m like she’s not with nobody. What are you talking about domestic dispute?” Pat said she was confused.
Police would arrest their daughter, 35-year-old, Michelle Martens, her boyfriend, Fabian Gonzales, and his cousin, Jessica Kelley. They would tell police they drugged Victoria, raped and killed her. Martens told police she watched.
“Thinking of the whole incident. Thinking of the pain Victoria must have went through and to what point. Thinking of my daughter sitting in there. What is she doing in there? How did she get there? How did she get herself into this?” John said these questions keep him up at night.
Michelle’s parents describe her as a single, hard working mom, who had never been arrested, and loved her kids more than anything.
So, how did she allegedly do this to her own child?
“Did you suspect any drug use by Michelle at all?,” asked KRQE News 13’s Jessica Garate On Special Assignment.
They said their daughter never did drugs or even drank. The Martens say Michelle had just passed a drug test three months earlier to land a job at Smith’s Grocery Store. John said she went to her job every day. They say Michelle was responsible and active in Victoria and her 8-year-old brother’s lives.
“If there was something going on, she masked it so well and she built a persona with us, we never saw this,” said Bobbs.
The story gets even worse. Michelle would tell police the weeks leading up to Victoria’s death, she had sought other men online to allow them to have sex with her daughter.
“Do you believe that?” asked Garate.
“We don’t know. We don’t know. She’s had other boyfriends. The other guys we met seemed alright,” said John.
The Martens think Michelle spiraled down fast. They blame Gonzales and Kelley. Police say Michelle met Gonzales on a dating site a month before.
“Michelle didn’t change until these people inducted themselves into her life. What kind of power they had over her, I don’t know,” said Bobbs.
“Did Victoria or her brother ever mention this guy?” asked Garate. John, Pat and Laura all said no.
The Martens, who retired in Albuquerque to help with their grandkids, say both kids were always happy. They believe maybe the kids stayed silent because of their love for their mother.
“It’s probably why she never said nothing. She didn’t want to get her in trouble,” said Pat.
John has gone to visit Michelle twice in jail. She can’t talk about the case but he’s asked one thing.
“Why? Why bring these people into your house? She told me I was trying to help them out to get on her feet,” said John.
The Martens say it’s difficult standing by their daughter.
“We didn’t know our daughter to be anybody that would do something like this, and if there’s evidence and she’s found guilty then she deserves to be punished,” said John and Pat.
Regardless of the outcome, they say they’ll always love their daughter.
“I know Victoria is in heaven saying forgive my mom,” said Bobbs. Pat agreed, “That’s exactly what she’s saying.”
The Martens wanted to talk because they’re angry Victoria’s murder was used in a political ad. It accused the Governor and CYFD for not doing more to help Victoria.
KRQE News 13 On Special Assignment uncovered CYFD had been called at least twice to check on Victoria and her brother. Hear the Martens talk about those CYFD visits and about the ad »
- CYFD releases review of Victoria Martens’ case
- Investigators release autopsy results on 10-year-old Victoria Martens
- Prosecutors recover new evidence in Victoria Marten’s murder case
- Hundreds gather to remember Victoria Martens at public memorial service
- Judge: Fabian Gonzales to finish probation sentence in jail