The man suspected of killing two women and three young girls last week in a Northern California home was also charged with murder Thursday in connection with the 2014 beating death of a two-year-old boy.
Martin Martinez, 30, was arrested in San Jose on Sunday — one day after the bodies of Amanda Crews, they're six-month-old daughter, his mother, Ana Brown Romero, and two girls, aged 5 and 6, were found inside a home in Modesto.
Modesto Police Chief Galen Carroll has declined to say how they were all killed or what the motive may have been.
The Merced Sun-Star reported Crews and Martinez were no longer in a relationship at the time of the alleged attack. One of the young girls was visiting.
Last week, a pathologist gave Modesto police “verbal notification” that the 2014 death of Crews' son from a former marriage, Christopher Ripley, was a homicide caused by blunt force trauma while being watched by Martinez.
On Thursday, Martinez was charged with murder and assault on a child by the Stanislaus County district attorney’s office in connection with Christopher's death. Both felonies carry the potential of a life sentence in state prison.
John Goold, a spokesman for the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office, said Martinez pleaded not guilty to the charges Thursday afternoon.
Carroll said it took nine months after Christopher's death to make the homicide determination because it took some time to hire a pathologist and complete an exhaustive investigation. He rebuffed questions over whether an arrest should have been made sooner, potentially preventing the five killings on Saturday.
“The Modesto Police Department did not drop the ball,” Carroll told reporters. “At the time there was no indication there would be any violence within that family, there were no calls for service at that location.”
Martinez and Cruz maintained a relationship despite the Department of Child Protective Services stepping in to protect Crews and their daughter after Christopher died, Carroll said. Child services issued an order against Martinez, and the pair had not been living together for the last two months.
After Saturday’s killing and the pathologist’s findings, Carroll said officers sped up their efforts to get an arrest warrant for Martinez.
Carroll said the number of people who knew about the pathologist’s findings in Ripley’s death was limited and isn’t believed to have been a factor in the killings.
Adolfo Flores is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.
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