SOLVING KRISTA MARTIN: Genealogy helps identify out-of-state man in decades-old homicide
WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) - Krista Martin would be in her mid-50s had she not have been dealt a fatal blow to the back of the head in October of 1989. She was 20 years old when her life ended in her apartment on South Osage Street in Wichita. It was a place she had just recently moved into in the fall of '89.
KAKE News wanted to share more of Ms. Martin's life and her unsolved case in hopes that it would generate tips and leads in this decades-long homicide investigation, on the anniversary of her death. While in the middle of gathering interviews -- a breakthrough in the case took place.
We documented our story in real time to bring you alongside our investigation. You'll find us gathering elements for this story, including door-knocking in the quiet Delano neighborhood where Ms. Martin resided at the time of the crime, an exclusive sit down with the lead detective working Ms. Martin's case, a friend's struggle in trying to get answers, and a family's quest of remembering their daughter, aunt and sister.
You'll also learn that perhaps without forensic genealogy and advances in DNA technology, this case would likely still be cold.
Detective Adam VanDerMolen, the lead detective working Krista Martin’s case, said the Wichita Police Department never forgot Krista, it’s just after the initial investigation, investigators had nothing else to go off of and that’s when they looked at this case through another lens.
"I think it's evident that she was remembered on multiple occasions -- in '89, '09 and in 2020," Det. VanDerMolen with the Wichita Police Department said.
The Wichita Police Department held a news conference Monday, October 2 to share the developments investigators had learned. KAKE News was there and shared what was announced. You can find that report here.
Sedgwick County's District Attorney Marc Bennett said if Paul Hart were alive today, he'd be charged.
"Law enforcement made me aware they were working on this case and when they reached as far as they could and came to all of the conclusions that they could reach, with the assistance of the Forensic Science Center, they presented it to me as they would any other homicide. After listening to all of the evidence presented and the information gathered, and the conclusions that they were able to make using the DNA, it's clear to me that this is a case that I would have charged, if the suspect was alive to charge him," District Attorney Marc Bennett said. "This is a completed investigation. This is a cleared investigation."
Below you will find KAKE's Crime Stoppers report on the 20th anniversary of Krista's death.
A week prior to Krista's death, there was a domestic disturbance call that went out in the vicinity of Krista's home, as reported to police by a neighbor of Krista's. Thorough our investigation though, it's its unclear if Krista was involved. Below is a clip from Lt. Mike McKenna from 1989 on this matter.
KAKE's Hannah King spoke to Ember Moore, Krista Martin's first-born niece, about who her aunt was, the decades-long investigation and how they are remembering their loved one. You'll find that interview following the story.