Real Name: John Lee Martin
Nicknames: No Known Nicknames
Location: Lee County, Virginia
Date: November 4, 1988
Details: Patrolman John Martin was a seventeen-year veteran of the Lee County, Virginia Sheriff's Department. Early on the morning of Friday, November 4, 1988, he was making his usual rounds. At 2:58AM, he noticed and began investigating a suspicious car on his route, parked behind the Lee County Health Clinic in Ewing. As he approached the vehicle, it tried to pull out of the parking lot. He started following it and then pulled the car over. He told the dispatcher this information and then exited his vehicle.
The driver opened fire on him with a .44 caliber pistol as he approached and asked for his license. He returned fire and struck the vehicle, but was severely injured and unable to move. When he didn't respond to the dispatcher, a nearby patrolman was sent to check on him. The officer found Martin mortally wounded in the parking lot; he stayed conscious just long enough to give a description of the vehicle and suspect before being taken to the hospital. He had been shot three times. He died from his injuries three days later on November 7. He left behind a wife Tammy and four children.
On November 10, he was laid to rest with full honors. Police officers from seven states and hundreds of area residents came to pay their final respects. His killer remains at large.
Suspects: An unknown Caucasian male with a mustache in his mid-20s that was driving a light brown or tan Buick with the license plate in the back window. The car was most likely a model from the late 1970s. The license plate read "Land of Lincoln" which was the motto for the state of Illinois. The registration numbers from the plate were not visible.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the January 18, 1989 episode.
Results: Solved. On November 5, 1988, Effingham, Illinois police impounded a stolen car, burned almost beyond recognition. Inside, they found evidence that it was the car driven by John's killer. The car was discovered to have three bullet holes in it. It wasn't until several weeks later that the car was connected to the murder; the bullet holes were determined to have been caused by John's gun. After the connection to the murder was made, the car was linked to twenty-four-year-old David Wayne Mills. Investigators searched his home and found evidence that also connected him to the crime.
When Mills returned home later that day, he was arrested and charged with John Martin's murder. He told investigators that he was present when Martin was shot, but that an accomplice fired the fatal shots. The alleged accomplice was questioned but never charged. Mills also led investigators to a .44 caliber pistol; ballistics tests confirmed that it was the gun that was used to shoot John Martin. Investigators believe that Mills was planning to burglarize the clinic when John showed up and that he "panicked" and killed him. On January 5, 1989, he was extradited back to Virginia to face first-degree murder charges. In the end, a jury found that Mills acted alone in the murder and convicted him. He was sentenced to life plus fifteen years in prison.
- Shooting of Lee County deputy solved by home security worker in Illinois
- Murder weapon found
- Virginia Trial in deputy’s slaying under way
- Man guilty of murder
- Mills v. Commonwealth of Virginia
- Official Down Memorial Page
- John Martin on Find a Grave