Some people, either living or dead, may still be to blame after new developments in the alleged murder of prominent Edinburg business owner Adam Martinez, more than 60 years after his death.
The story, recently uncovered by his descendants, is one of greed, betrayal, and ultimately tragedy that began with a message from the grave.
Countless hours of research, and a trip to the National Archives in College Park, Md., may have revealed that Martinez's death was, in fact, not an accident but murder, according to family members.
Martinez's family, which included his ex-wife Irene, as well as his daughter and grandson, who are leading the investigation into his death, held a press conference on Tuesday, Sept. 14, at The Adobe restaurant on North Closner Blvd. in Edinburg. It is the same restaurant, albeit under a different name, where Martinez frequented 60 years earlier, and also the staging area for a chain of events that would lead to his death at 35 years old.
"Perhaps his (Martinez) secret wasn't as well kept as he thought, making him a prime target and thus causing him to be attacked on his way home" family members said. "(Maybe) there was attempt to extract information out of him from parties he recognized, and they could not let him live."
After being drafted in 1941 to fight in World War II, Staff Sgt. Martinez served in the legendary 3rd Army as a combat engineer, led by Gen. George Patton, and was part of the group that famously saved the 101st in the Battle of the Bulge.
During his Military service, Martinez also stormed the beach in Normandy, and was decorated with five battle stars for campaigns in Rhineland, the Ardennes (Battle of the Bulge) in Germany, Central Europe, and northern France, which is where Martinez would stumble upon the object that would seal his fate, half a world away.
Family members are convinced that Martinez happened upon a hidden cache of Nazi gold during the battle for Metz sometime between November and December 1944.
Pronounced "Mess", the city lies on the east bank of the River Moselle, close to the Autoroute de l'Est, a highway linking the French cities of Paris and Strasbourg. The gold Martinez may have found, would have belonged to victims of the Nazi regime, who pillaged towns in order finance the war.
Family members say a message from the grave by Martinez himself, said he may have buried the gold somewhere in northern France in hopes of retrieving it once the war ended. Elvia and Rockcliffe Martinez, who are career paranormal investigators based in San Antonio, said they recorded thirteen words from their late grandfather via Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP) on a digital recorder.
The words: "Go back to the grave. It's in France. Mess. Metz. Gold in it" was apparently taken from Martinez's grave at Hillcrest Cemetery. The family played the message for reporters on Tuesday morning.
Family members also hint at a significantly smaller cache of gold hidden locally by Martinez, who may have wanted to use the money to finance his trip back to France for the rest.
"The truth is, because I know you're guessing if we know where it is, and the answer is 'yes we do', but we cannot divulge that until our attorney negotiates with the French government," Elvia Martinez said about the gold her grandfather hid overseas. She also spoke about the gold Martinez may have hid somewhere in region.
"I think the perpetrators were convinced that he hid it in Mexico, because he made a lot of trips to Mexico," she said. "In turn, we believe because he hid it in Europe, and the fact that was sitting on the knowledge of vast amount of money, caused him to meet his demise. He knew what he had, he knew it wasn't going to be disturbed, and he knew that one day he was going to go back and get it."
When he returned to Edinburg in 1945, after four years of combat, Martinez settled into a normal life. Martinez, who was known by his nickname "El Ronco" because of his hoarse voice, became the owner of "El Charro", a combination taxicab company and restaurant previously located on East University, where Melrose currently stands. The business was run by Martinez's brother following his death, but later ended with the opening of the shopping plaza that remains to this day.
In the meantime, Martinez's family life suffered. Family members, as well as his ex-wife who was present at the press conference on Tuesday, said thoughts of gold may have occupied his time. Irene divorced him in 1947 taking Elvia, who was an infant at the time, to San Antonio where they live to this day.
Martinez remarried in 1949, after meeting Ethel Thomas at what is now the Adobe Restaurant in Edinburg. The marriage to Thomas, a native of Monteagle TN., was a rocky one at best, according to family members. Some time before the wedding, Martinez writes Irene mentioning "Some trouble he is in" and "I expect to get out of this trouble soon."
Within 14 months of their marriage, Martinez would be dead. He went to Reynosa on the night of Dec. 17, 1950 with his wife, and never came home, according to family members. Various newspaper reports, including the Edinburg Review reported the death as the result of a single car accident, but notarized accounts by at least one eyewitness at the time say there was no damage done to the vehicle.
Martinez was found dead in the early morning hours of Dec. 18th, on private property just off of U.S. Hwy. 281, on the outskirts of Pharr. He was found 40 yards to the east of Highway 281, splayed out in front of the vehicle, which had the headlights on, but no significant signs of struggle. He was 35 years old.
Thomas was picked up and returned home. She was found walking back in the early morning hours of Dec. 18.
"It was odd that she (Thomas) wanted to go that night, and he looked to come back alone, while she went walking," Rockcliffe Martinez said, only hinting at a motif for his grandfather's alleged murder. After his death, all of Martinez's belongings were packed into his vehicle and taken back to Monteagle TN. by Thomas' brother, where they were never seen again, according to the family.
Martinez was buried two days later at Hillcrest Cemetery, and because the statute on limitations regarding vehicle accidents ended within 10 years, most records of his death were destroyed by 1960. Thomas lived in Edinburg for a time before eventually remarrying and settling elsewhere in Texas.
With the recent revelation into his death, Martinez's descendants say their focus now shifts from getting the cause of his death changed from "accident" to "undetermined", which may reopen his case. The latest development ends more than two decades of investigation by the Martinez family.
"There are Holocaust victims and their families who deserve any gold found," Elvia Martinez said, when asked about the prospect of ever finding the gold her father allegedly hid more than 60 years ago. "It's only right, and fair."
"We stand by who we are. We are paranormal investigators, and we are not going to back down," she said. "This is what we do, and we believe Adam G. Martinez's death was not an accident, but murder."