New interest in missing person cases after kidnap arrest

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by JIM DOUGLAS

Bio | Email | Follow: @wfaajdouglas

WFAA

Posted on March 15, 2011 at 6:19 PM

Updated Tuesday, Mar 15 at 9:49 PM

Investigators are looking for possible connections between accused kidnapper Jeff Maxwell and other missing persons cases in North Texas.

Maxwell is accused of abducting a 62-year-old Parker County woman and brutalizing her for nearly two weeks.

Maxwell was arrested at his home near Corsicana on Saturday; the woman was hospitalized.

The other cases date back to 1992, with the disappearance of the suspect's ex-wife, Martha Maxwell.

Then — in 2000 — Amy Smith vanished after her Parker County home burned to the ground.

And just last summer, Shonda Townsend disappeared in nearby Mineral Wells after leaving a friend's house.

Martha Maxwell left behind a nine-year-old son she loved, and a husband she feared. Her family has always believed Jeff Maxwell murdered her. Now more than ever, they are certain.

"I knew then, right there, that he killed her," said Martha's brother, Javier Martinez, speaking to News 8 by phone from Colorado. "I knew that because of what happened in 1987. He tried to kill her."

In 1987, Martha Martinez was found in Oklahoma, beaten, with her throat slit. She told police that Maxwell drugged her and tried to kill her, but she stayed with him for another five years.

Authorities told relatives there wasn't enough evidence to convict Jeff Maxwell.

Javier Martinez said he wishes he could have done more to get his sister out of the relationship. "Through their whole marriage, she was tortured — not abused, tortured," he said. "Cigarette burns. Sadistic. Tied up."

Martinez said he didn't know the extent of his sister's suffering until it was too late.

Now — following new charges against Jeff Maxwell — investigators are taking another look at his story that wife Martha simply left him, never again to contact her parents, siblings or son.

And her son is hearing for the first time that perhaps his mom didn't abandon him after all, and that relatives suspect his father is to blame.

Martinez said his nephew called him just after Maxwell was arrested and the gruesome details of his alleged crimes became public.

"He wanted to know what happened to his mom," he said. "Because before that, in his eyes, his mother left him. That's the story he was told by his dad."

E-mail jdouglas@wfaa.com

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