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.”
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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.