Petersburg Resident Found Dead - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

5/6/02

Petersburg Resident Found Dead

Petersburg residents can not imagine why someone would want to murder an 81 year-old man. Martinez had lived in Petersburg for at least five years. Some called him 'Walkin Joe.' Most did not know him very well, but did know he was a friendly man who would always wave to anyone who crossed his path.

Around 3 p.m., less than a dozen men meet at Petersburg's Kountry Kitchen to have tea. Usually, you can catch them talking about the small town but this time, they were talking about 81 year-old Jose Martinez's murder. "He was a harmless old man, always kept to himself," says Reverend Oscar Gentry.

"I don't think he'd harm anyone. I don't know why someone would hurt him," says John Smith, a long time resident of Petersburg.

"Oh, he would wave at everyone that passed by," said James Jeffress, another long time resident.

Petersburg Police say Martinez was found by his friend who picks him up for church on Sundays. Martinez's murder has shocked the small community.

Crystal Garza has lived in Petersburg for 20 years in the same house which is right across the street from Martinez says she did not know anything had happened because she did not hear or see anything wrong. "In a small town where we live, when something like this happens, it's scary," Garza says.

Garza has two small children and has felt comfortable letting her kids play in the front yard alone, but this small town murder has changed that. "I won't let them play if I am not there watching them. I am definitely more cautious with the kids," she says.

As of Monday night, Petersburg Police, the Hale County Sheriff's Office, and the Texas Rangers are still investigating. The medical examiner at University Medical Center has the body and will determine the exact cause of death.

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