Everybody’s family is different. Some families stay in close proximity with each other or, if they’re separated by great distances, they do their best to stay in frequent contact or at the very least check up on each other every once in a while.
Then you have families on the other end of the spectrum who can go months or years without talking to each other. It doesn’t mean they necessarily love each other less, they just have a different dynamic. But in long periods of time between contact, a lot can happen…
Martin was the second of four kids born to an Australian family. He and his siblings, all girls, had a rough time growing up because their home life wasn’t the most stable thing. They spent much of their childhood separated from each other, being cared for by relatives or in the foster system.
But with the time they did have together, they created a lot of good memories. According to his older sister Natasha, Martin loved Bruce Springsteen and was “full of life and a normal happy kid.”
“When the four of us got together on the odd weekends, it was great – just normal sibling stuff,” Natasha said. “We’d play, we’d argue and fight, just normal family stuff.” As they got older, the arguing and fighting tapered off as it often does between siblings. What was left was mostly just love.
A Real Sweetheart
“Martin was a sweetheart,” Natasha said. “He doted on my son Dylan and he couldn’t wait to see his new nephew [Blake] when he was born.” Of course, that was all when they were together. In 2004, Martin moved to Terowie, away from his other siblings.
No News Is Good News
He didn’t have much contact with his family after that point but because of his transient and carefree way of being, Natasha and the rest of Martin’s family adopted a “no news is good news” approach. But a few years after he’d moved away, a major event would occur that would test that approach.
The kids’ mother Lorraine died, prompting Martin’s family to try and get in touch with him. Unfortunately, they couldn’t get a hold of him or even find out exactly where he was living at the time. “Maybe alarm bells should have gone off then,” Natasha said.
Dealing With Grief
“But we were already dealing with the grief of mum’s death and organizing the funeral and then we went back to babies and children,” Natasha continued. His family just assumed Martin hadn’t wanted to speak with them, for whatever reason. He was an adult, after all, so it was his prerogative.
But in 2013, Natasha and her siblings would be shocked when they found out exactly where Martin was. During a routine firearms check at the home of a man named Christopher Scott, Martin’s cousin, police stumbled across a gruesome discovery.
In Plain Sight
Inside a bag sitting in a plastic tub in Chris’s fireplace were a small collection of human bones. Amazingly, the partial skeletal remains were sitting in plain sight for anyone to see. After forensic investigators analyzed the remains, they found that they belonged to Martin.
The authorities believed that Martin had likely been murdered sometime in early 2005 when he was 23 years old. Chris, who would have been 16 at the time of Martin’s death, was initially charged with failing to report a death. For reasons that Natasha couldn’t fathom, he remained incredibly tight-lipped and uncooperative with police and the charges were eventually dropped.
“I couldn’t imagine a 16-year-old kid finding his own cousin and not asking for some advice,” Natasha said. “I’m often torn between do I feel bad for Chris or do I hate him?” As police further investigated Martin’s death, they uncovered evidence that suggested that Chris, along with multiple other people had been involved in his death.
One of the strongest clues was the fact that, in the eight years he had been missing, a group of people had been collecting his twice-a-month disability payments. They’d pocketed a total of $130,000 AUD (approximately $93,500 USD) over eight years.
They had suspects and motive, and police described the circumstances around his death as “a poorly guarded secret.” But investigators were confronted by a wall of silence by anyone who knew anything about Martin’s murder so it would take several more years of painstaking police work to gather enough evidence to make an arrest.
Assembling The Pieces
By painstakingly going through years of ATM surveillance footage, police believed that they were able to identify several people who’d used Martin’s bank card to withdraw the pension. In September of 2018, they were finally ready to put all the pieces together in a court of law and arrested Martin’s cousin Christopher Scott.
“We believe that after Martin’s murder he was buried and was shifted at least once, possibly two times so it is possible that Martin’s remains are at either one of those burial sites,” major crime superintendent Des Bray told reporters.
We Want Information
“There is a reward of $200,000 (AUD) offered in connection with this case, not just for information leading to a conviction, but for information which allows us to find the rest of his remains,” he continued.
Tell The Truth
Investigators didn’t move on the other suspects yet, instead choosing to issue a final warning to those involved in the pension fraud. They should come forward and tell the truth about what they know in relation to Martin’s death or face a potential life sentence for murder.
Loved And Missed
At a press release about the arrest, Superintendent Des Bray read out a statement from the victim’s father. “Martin was a dearly loved and missed son and brother,” he said, “and although I am relieved that a person has been arrested for his murder, I will not find more relief until the person is behind bars for the rest of his life.”
Can’t Bring Him Back
In speaking to 9NEWS, Natasha said that she was “relieved but shocked” about her cousin’s arrest for her brother’s murder. “Even if someone, Chris or whoever is brought to justice, it’s not going to bring Martin back,” she said.
Still, Natasha wanted the search for her brother’s remains and any other people involved in his death to continue. “I want it resolved, I want all of Martin brought back to us and I want to either keep him at home with me or I want to be able to bury him properly,” she said.