SUTTER, CA—Warning signs and missed opportunities. That may ultimately sum up the murders of Jack and Susan Martin. The most glaring red flag: why weren't authorities called when this ex-boyfriend began spiraling out of control in recent weeks? Now, 21-year old Joseph Simlick is in the Sutter County Jail facing two counts of murder.
There was a picture perfect family photo hanging in the Martin's home; Jack and Susan and their two daughters. But in the days before the murders they may have been a family under siege. A red truck was seen on the dirt road behind the Martin's home in the days before the crime. A red truck just like the one owned by Simlick. Neighbor Vernon Heinz remembers it well, "He's came by a couple of times in the evenings and drove out of here really fast. I called him on it a couple of times, but he drove by and looked at me like it wasn't important to him."
But that incident involving Kendall was never reported to the Sutter County Sheriff's Department. In fact, the Sutter County Sheriff's Department didn't even know the name Joesph Simlick until they arrested him hours after firefighters doused the flames that had engulfed the Martin's home. "We believe we have sufficient evidence to prove that Joseph Simlick is responsible for murder of Jack and Suzie Martin," says Captain Lewis McElfresh.
Investigators won't tell us how the Martin's were killed. FOX 40 uncovered a picture of Simlick in camouflage on a web site promoting hunting and fishing, but there was no information explaining his involvement or expertise.
"I'm glad they got somebody. Sure, I'm glad they got somebody, but it doesn't make me feel any better" A heartbroken Norman Sanders barely raised his voice when asked about the arrest. Sanders raised Jack Martin from the time he was a little boy, "If the district attorney's office was willing to pursue the death penalty, would you support that?" asked FOX 40's John Lobertini. Sanders snapped back, "You bet. I don't want him to have a plea bargain."
Neighbors say the Martins may have also threatened Simlick with a restraining order. On the night of the Murders, Kendall--who would've normally been home---was attending a concert. Vernon Heinz saw Jack Thursday morning, just hours before he was killed, and knew something was wrong "He has that sick frown looking look. I don't know has a desperation look, he's never looked like that."
It's probably going to be a while before the District Attorney decides whether to pursue the Death Penalty.
21 year old Joseph Simlick will be arraigned on two counts of murder Thursday afternoon at the Sutter County Courthouse in Yuba City.