'We know who killed our father': 33 years after Jimmie Wade Martin's murder, his daughters fight for TRUTH
BONNE TERRE, MISSOURI: In the early morning hours of October 13, 1989, 29-year-old Jimmie Wade Martin was murdered in Bonne Terre, a short distance from the since-closed Coal Bin Tavern. Martin was found lying dead on the sidewalk as a result of injuries sustained from being struck with a blunt object. It is said many people witnessed the murder.
A man, David White, who was 27 at the time, was arrested and charged with murder but just three days before being tried in court, the second-degree murder charge was dismissed. The prosecuting attorney said there was insufficient evidence to charge White. It is said he is assisting the investigation too, in an attempt to find the real suspects and clear his name. No one has since been arrested and charged with Martin's murder.
Andrea and Angela's fight for justice
Meanwhile, Martin's twin daughters, Andrea Martin Lynn and Angela Williams, both 44-year-old mothers at present, were forced to grow up without their father. They were 11 when their father was killed. Speaking to MEAWW about the time, Andrea said. "There is a special bond between twins, and we had each other. When one of us was strong the other was weak and vice versa. Our dad could do standing back and front flips. We have many memories of being in the yard practicing gymnastics. We continued to pursue gymnastics through college as that was something that made us feel connected to him and we wanted to make him proud. Hearing the word 'dad' put a lump in my throat and I had to fight back tears each time that word was spoken."
Growing up without justice for their father's death pushed the sisters to take things into their own hands. They have spent days and nights gathering information about the case and trying to put the puzzles into place. At the same time, they have been looking after their families. For over a year, 'Small Town Forgotten', a true crime podcast, has been going through the evidence, reports, and case files to reveal the truth, along with the twins.
"David White was charged with murder as he claimed he hit someone with a landscaping timber. Police said he confessed because he admitted to hitting someone with the timber, and he remained in custody for three years awaiting trial. The blood was analyzed at the crime lab and the results ruled out White, and the trial was dismissed. White was released from custody and the charges against him were dropped. To our knowledge, there was no further investigation," said Angela.
She added, "In 2007, we met with the St Francois County Sheriff’s Department. We wanted to know how and why the case went cold. We were young adults and had lots of questions because nothing made sense. Why was the case dropped? If David White didn’t do it, who did? What evidence do you have? Are there any other suspects? Why is a killer still on the streets? After that meeting, the case was reopened. We had high hopes, but alas! Phone calls were not being returned and we began to feel like a burden. We felt helpless and nobody was going to advocate for our father the way we would. We couldn’t let our dad down because we felt we owed this to him, he deserved justice. Unfortunately, we realized we were alone in this fight for justice."
However, the efforts of the twins and the podcast were not completely in vain. The case was opened again on February 17, 2021, by the St Francois County Prosecuting Attorney's Office, in conjunction with the St Francois County Sheriff's Department and the Missouri State Highway Patrol. At the time, the prosecutor's office said they had new leads. On October 25, two suspects were arrested and questioned but they were released after 24 hours. They have not been charged.
"My sister and I have put ourselves in some sketchy situations while doing our research to gather evidence," Andrea said with a laugh. "Showing up at people’s houses, knocking on doors to talk to people that we thought had information, and since receiving the entire case file that has answered some of the questions. Facebook has played a huge part as it let us reach out to people we previously couldn’t find. 'Small Town Forgotten' has played the biggest role in people coming forward and they formed our Army. We started alone and now we have an army, thanks to the podcast."
'Broken promises, no action'
When asked what the police's role in the investigation has been, Angela said, "Broken promises, empty words, but no action. They followed their narrative and not the facts. In recent months, we have learned three people came forward in 1989-1990 regarding the suspects but no follow-up was ever done."
Angela added, "However, we eventually received the case file via David White. He was originally charged with our father's murder but we later befriended him. In November of 2021, the evidence we thought was lost or destroyed was discovered. A warrant was issued for the suspects' DNA and was sent to the crime lab to be compared to the evidence collected at the scene. We should be getting those results from the crime lab this week."
'Dad was the life of the party'
During the conversation, the twins recalled the time they spent with their father. "We had him wrapped around our finger! Even though we were twins he made us feel special and one of a kind. He always made us laugh and there was never a dull moment. He was fun, he was the life of the party, he was silly, he lived in the moment and was just a happy soul," Andrea said.
"We would go to the public pool and my dad was an awesome diver," recalled Angela. "People would sit on the sides of the pool just to watch him do flips off the diving board. No one would get in line for the diving board because they wanted to watch him. He would continuously impress the crowd and they clapped as he showed off."
Recalling a happy memory, she added, "We overheard our dad and his friend talking about how he apparently answers questions when asked, while sleeping. It was a summer evening and dad said he was going to take a nap. The window by the bed was open and we waited for a bit thinking he was asleep! We went up to the window and said, “Dad, where is all your money?” His response was, “I’m not asleep yet girls!”
'Small Town Forgotten' podcast
The investigative series 'Small Town Forgotten' is hosted by podcast newcomer and Missouri developer, Chris Hulsey. The series is written by Vonessa Martin and directed by Portland/Los Angeles film and theatre director/producer, Shawn Lee Martin. It is created by Blue Burn Productions.
MEAWW spoke to Shawn about his inspiration behind the podcast. "I was inspired by the twins, Andrea and Angela, and their persistence in the face of so much adversity and their love for their dad, and each other," Shawn said. "They never gave up searching for the truth. The Martin family is a very tight knit family. The town of Bonne Terre is small and everyone knows each other. How could so many people have been there and yet no one has spoken up…until now?"
"I was horrified when the murder happened as Martin and I were both part of a close-knit family. I never understood why it was not solved. I spoke of the case over the years with my wife, Vonessa Martin, writer of the podcast, and we discussed using their theater, film and TV experience to produce a podcast and documentary film to aid in the solving of the cold case," he added.
Shawn said what prompted him to pursue the case was the fact that there were no convictions even though there were several people who allegedly witnessed the murder. "'Small Town Forgotten' stands out among true crime podcasts because we know who did it and we have a personal stake in the outcome. The twins have been investigating their father's murder for such a long time. We were inspired by their dedication. We knew we had decades of experience as film and theater makers and wanted to help tell the story," he said.
Asked what makes one a good true crime podcaster, Shawn said, "It is someone who invites the listener to be part of the story. Now true crime podcasters can really bring attention to a cold case that can inspire people who have previously not come forward to give evidence. Because of our podcast and the attention it brought to what happened to Martin, Missouri law enforcement reopened the case."
'We know who killed our father'
"We will continue to fight because no one can get away with murdering our dad! We will not stop, and we know 'Small Town Forgotten' is with us," Andrea said.
"There is so much we haven’t said because the PA asked us not to. Time is running out. We have remained silent for 33 years and the flood gates are about to open. We know who killed our father and it’s about time the rest of the world does too!" Angela concluded.