Man who died in Washington prison linked to 2 cold case murders from the 70s

The sheriff in San Luis Obispo county has identified a man named Arthur Rudy Martinez as a suspect in two 41-year-old cold case murders in Atascadero, California.

Martinez died in prison in Spokane in June of 2014, when he was 65.

Martinez moved from Atascadero to Spokane in the late 1970s, when he was in his 20s. Detectives say while in Spokane, he committed numerous robberies and at least two rapes. He was convicted of several of those crimes and given a life sentence, which he began serving in November of 1978.

He served 16 years in the Washington state Department of Corrections, until he escaped from prison in 1994. For the next 20 years, Martinez lived in Fresno, California under an alias, according to the SLO county sheriff.

In April of 2014, Martinez turned himself in because he had been diagnosed with terminal cancer and knew he would receive medical care in prison.

Beginning in June of 2017, the San Luis Obispo Sheriff’s Office Cold Case/Unsolved Unit began re-investigating the brutal murders of two women in 1977 and 1978.

In November of 1977, the body of 30-year-old Jane Morton Antunez was found in the back seat of her car on a dirt road in Atascadero. Antunez’s throat had been cut and she had been sexually assaulted.

Two months later, in January of 1978, the body of 28-year-old Patricia Dwyer was found on the floor of her home in Atascadero. Dwyer was stabbed in the chest with a knife from her kitchen drawer and had been sexually assaulted.

Both victims were known to frequent the same bar, the Tally Ho Bar in Atascadero. The women had some mutual friends but did not know each other. Both victim’s arms were bound behind their backs by different bindings that were found at each scene.

DNA evidence was gathered from both scenes at the time of the murders. Decades later, in 2005, that evidence was uploaded into a DNA database which was able to confrim the same suspect killed both women. Still, there were no leads.

The cases were only reopened when the Department of Justice’s Familial DNA Search Team found a current inmate, who was serving time for unrelated charges, had a similar DNA profile to the murder suspect’s profile.

Investigators determined the current inmate had a relative, Arthur Rudy Martinez, who was living in Atascadero at the time of both murders. Detectives then matched Martinez’s DNA to the suspect DNA left at both scenes and confirmed Martinez killed both victims just before moving to Washington.

Detectives do not know if Martinez knew his victims before the murders. They’re asking nyone who has any information about Arthur Martinez to call Detective Clint Cole at 805-788-2157.

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