Cold case closed after eight years -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Cold case closed after eight years

By Jade Bulecza - bio | email  
LOWNDES COUNTY, GA (WALB) -A cold murder case in Lowndes County has been closed after eight years and many twists and turns. 

A migrant worker is finally in jail in Georgia charged with raping and killing a Kentucky woman. Joy Morris was found dead in her car behind a Lake Park motel November 1, 2002.  

Forty-year-old Maurilio Martinez is now charged with raping and murdering 47-year old Joy Morris on October 31, 2002. Morris stopped in Lake Park on her way home to Kentucky.  The break in the case came when Valdosta Police investigated another rape case in April 2006.

"Detective Jason Sunday worked that rape and actually interviewed our suspect who at that time did not have ties with us," said Capt. Wanda Edwards, Lowndes County Sheriff's Office.

Det. Sunday got a DNA sample from the suspect and sent it to the crime lab. The DNA was entered into the database in 2008.

"Once those were entered in, it made a hit with our sexual assault kit from the Joy Morris Case," said Capt. Edwards.

 The next hurdle was finding Martinez.  That wasn't easy since he is an illegal immigrant.

"After we issued the warrant we were actually getting hits from all over the country of people using the same  name and of course we checked them out but the fingerprints didn't match, the photo didn't match," said Edwards.

Finally, Martinez was arrested for traffic violations in Casselberry, Florida.

"We compared the prints and photos and it was our guy."

After martinez refused to be extradited to Georgia in November investigators had to get a warrant from Governor Sonny Perdue. The warrant was sent to Florida Governor Charlie Crist, who agreed to send him back to Georgia.

Morris was found dead in her black mustang along this woodline behind what is now the Motel 6. She stopped off exit 2 in Lake Park to rest make phone calls, get something to eat and get gas.

She was then raped and strangled. Morris was headed home after escorting a semi-truck from West Palm Beach.

Woody Morris, Morris's husband at the time of her death, says he's pleased with the results of the investigation.  He found out authorities made the arrest on their son Jason's birthday on Tuesday.

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