Surviving Murder Blog

Our case remains unsolved 26 years and counting

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A prayer for you

I said a prayer for you today. I was hunched over a microscope looking at the cells your body makes to keep you healthy. I am not a doctor; I am not trained to diagnose the specifics of what is happening in your body. I am a medical technologist; one of the things I am trained to do is to look at those cells your body created and determine if they are maturing normally.IMAG1292-1-1

Looking at your cells I said a prayer hoping I was wrong, you have no history of illness outside of a visit here and there for minor things. I sent your specimen on to a pathologist; they are trained to tell me when I am wrong. I do not know what they will say, but I prayed today they prove me wrong.

You are not just a number, or a smear of blood on glass. You are the clerk at the checkout, the postal worker that delivers my mail. You are the mother of three that lives down the road; you are the driver of the bus that brings my child home safely every day. I said a prayer for you today; when the phlebotomist or nurse drew your blood you had no idea where it would go. It came to me and when I looked through the microscope; I said a prayer for you today.


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The Gist

Tip energizes probe of 1980s slaying of 23-year-old Brenda Martinez
Published: Thursday, March 17, 2011, 8:30 PM Updated: Friday, March 18, 2011, 9:25 AM

Khalil AlHajal | The Flint Journal By Khalil AlHajal | The Flint Journal

RICHFIELD TOWNSHIP, Michigan — Stephanie Bellanca was only 6 years old when her mother went missing in 1988.

But she remembers. So do police.
Brenda Martinez with her daughter Stephanie Bellanca in this 1984 photo. Brenda Martinez was only 23 when she disappeared from her Flint home just before Christmas that year. Police said then that she went to use a pay phone at Fenton and West Atherton roads and did not return.

Her snow-covered, frozen body was found near Tobaggan Hill in Holloway Reservoir Regional Park on Jan. 5, 1989. Police did not disclose a cause of death but said it was a homicide.

Martinez, who also used her maiden name of Harvey, disappeared on Dec. 22, 1988 after she said she was going to use a pay phone at Fenton and West Atherton roads in Flint.

No one was charged in Martinez’s slaying.

Now, Richfield Township police and other area agencies are questioning people and retesting physical evidence in the case after a fresh tip came in through the state police post in Flint.

“For a long time, it was very hard for me to deal with the whole situation,” said Bellanca, now 28. “More recently, I think as I’ve gotten older, I’ve been able to deal with that frustration and anger. But it would mean a lot to my family to know that they were still looking and still care and to know that police are still looking for people.”

State police Detective Joe Jones wouldn’t specify what kind of tip came in, but he said DNA evidence has been sent to a lab and people are being re-interviewed.

“It’s nice to have something tangible to work off of,” Jones said. “We’re still following up leads, people who may have had contact with her back then. We have some people of interest that we’re looking at.”

Bellanca, who now lives in Mount Pleasant, doesn’t remember the exact moment she found out her mother was gone.

“I remember that she wasn’t there,” she said. “And I moved to Cheboygan with my great-aunt.

“It’s something that we think about every year, especially around Christmas.”

When she was 20, she contacted a Richfield Township detective, “to let them know that we’re still here and we’re still curious.”

“They drove up here, and they spoke with me for a few hours and let me know what was going on,” she said. “They hadn’t had any breaks or anything in the case, but they were very kind and let me know they were doing everything that they could.”

Now that there has been a new development in the case, Bellanca hopes someone else will come forward with more information.

With or without closure in the case, Bellanca said she’ll always have faint memories of her mother to hold on to.

“We used to sing and dance to the radio and do the normal stuff that moms and daughters do,” she said. “She was a lot of fun. We had fun. And she was just a beautiful person. …

“If somebody would come forward, that would be amazing — to let people know that we still know and we’re looking and we’re not going to stop.”

Related topics: davison



This is the basic info about my mothers case, I am moving from my previous blog site to here so bare with me while the transition is underway.


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I Think I May Be a Goat

        One of the great things about chronic pain is it distracts you when it flares up.  Your brain is so focused on keeping you from doing any movement that makes the pain worse, or on trying to ignore the stabbing, searing burn, and sharp undulating pangs in your muscles that goes away almost never.  Yet it serves to drown out the rest of the pain anywhere else in your body or mind for that matter.  However it also means you spend your life on the sidelines, outside looking in because it hurts to crawl around, or wrestle, it’s hard to focus on creative ways to get your child to learn and grow intellectually. good-shepherd1

           It can all be so overwhelming that people not directly in contact with you on a daily basis go on largely unnoticed.  So when you get the message that a friend is sick or gone on to glory, though not surprised in some cases, you still feel guilty.  For not trying harder to get a hold of them and just assuming that they’ll get that voice, text, e-mail or Facebook msg.  Surely they’ll understand that you were in pain, tired and distracted that life is nothing but a lack of time to complete X, Y, Z then if all your stuff is done you can have that chance to call.  But the initial tasks end up growing exponentially within hours and the next day you gotta contend with all the other letters of the alphabet and what you didn’t get done in the first place (referring back to X, Y, and Z).  In the end it all culminates into sucking at life in any given situation thereafter.

It is at these times when you finally humble yourself and ask some divine intervention.  God doesn’t barter and yet the prayers end up sounding like a sketchy contract you created and hope no one calls you out on.  Pleading your case, asking him for his help while attempting to justify your blatant disregard for his plan for you out of hopes that maybe he’s forgotten.  He already knows you were outside looking in and why.  How you busied yourself instead of letting go and following that tug on your heart.  Today is what we have been given, tomorrow is unknown.

          A lot of things can distract and rope us in, but at the end of the day can you be proud of the priorities you set?  I know most days what rules my life and it isn’t the priorities of one who lives the call.  But hopefully I get a chance to try again tomorrow, and will be reminded not to blink, or take the day for granted.  Yes perhaps I will; should tomorrow come that is.

The Sheep and the Goats

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ 

Matthew 25:31-40



To the boy dearest to my heart,

Gavin I’m writing to you here because I want you to know something. I want it in a place where you can always find it because I never want you to forget. First off I love you more than you will ever know. Someday if you have your own child or children you may know and understand how much one person can love another, but there is a very special bond between a mother and her baby and it transcends all things.

You have changed my life in so many beautiful ways you make me smile, laugh and cry. I want to always keep you safe and help you in anyway possible. I am immensely proud of you, and all you are. Do me a favor and pay close attention to my words here because it is my own heart. I know this could be seen by many people but it is truly meant for you. It’s not a show or a ploy for my own benefit. All I will say, I mean and it needs to be somewhere it can not be lost.

I want you to be happy first and foremost. I do not care if you are a millionaire, a surgeon, a teacher, artist, professional skateboarder, motocross, or police officer. A farmer, missionary or a stock broker. But whatever you decide to do as a career do not do so for money because it will fade, you will be sad always chasing after material “things” of the world. Bigger isn’t always better and more distracts you from things that matter in life like love, family and friends.

As you become a man always be kind to others especially when others make it hard to love them, but do not let them walk all over you. You have to love yourself before you can love others and be loved in return. You have an ability to become easily aggravated (I hope it skips a generation) it is from those that came before your mamma, and if you let it define you, you will have a difficult road. Give more than you can and be a part of a community, do not just live for yourself because you will be lonely. Pray and love your creator even when you feel alone and like the world is caving in on you. God is faithful and you can count on him to be your saving grace always. Times will be tough now and again, sometimes it will feel as though they will never end. But it will pass so stand up straight with your chest out, your head high and face that fire because you can get through it!

Take time to do things that make you truly enjoy life; whether it is travel or dedicating some free time to those who are less fortunate than yourself. Doing the same things day after day even if it is what you love can be monotonous.

If you find someone who you can’t live without treat her right. Sometimes she might not be easy to love but that’s normal. We all do things that drive eachother crazy. It is true that you will get exactly what you give, so make sure you’re good to her. Appreciate all that a relationship like marrying your best friend has to offer. Even if she acts like she doesn’t like it tell her she’s beautiful and amazing everyday. Making money and providing for your family may not be enough for them to know you love them, so tell them often so they never doubt it.

You can always count on your daddy and momma should you need anything. If you decide you don’t like living in the same area as us, make sure you call him and me whenever you find the time. We like to know you are safe and doing well.

If something should happen to me like it did to your grandma, do not spend your time worrying over me. Vengeance and anger are not worth the harm it brings to you and those you hold dear that are still alive and needing you. Do not feel you have to fight for my honor or ability to rest because no matter what I am with our maker, and doing fantastically. Let it go as soon as you can and keep those in your charge safe. I do not need you to provide me justice, or anything other than your love. If you love me let that sadness go and honor those things that made our times so very special, no matter how mundane the might seem.

I am so proud of you my handsome, smart and hilarious son. You will do what is right and beyond as you have been taught by us and your family. If it feels wrong or makes you worry then don’t do it. The anxiety it gives you is not worth the momentary gratification that thing might bring. Follow your heart and trust yourself. You’re a clever child and I’m confident that will never change. Be proud of your accomplishments and accountable when you are wrong. Admit when you need help and when you mess up take responsibility.

But above all else no matter what you do, or what kind of man you become I will always love you beyond all else in this world. You’re my boy, my turkey, boo, monkey, buddie, Buddha baby, junior, the Gav and any other name I can or will come up with.

Be happy!! Smile and laugh freely and often.