FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Fort Worth Police hope a weekend kidnapping arrest may help them solve a cold case.
The department announced Tuesday it is re-examining the 1992 disappearance of Martha Martinez Maxwell.
Her now ex-husband, Jeff Maxwell, 58, was arrested over the weekend in a separate case. He’s accused of abducting a 62-year-old woman and holding her captive for nearly two weeks.
Maxwell is behind bars in Parker County charged with aggravated kidnapping and sexual assault.
“From the beginning I didn’t have a good feeling for him,” Martha’s brother Javier Martinez said, “and once I started hearing the abuse, it grew stronger and stronger.”
Maxwell kidnapped the woman at gunpoint March 1, torched her home to destroy evidence, and held her captive for twelve days inside his home in Corsicana where he repeatedly raped and tortured her, said Parker County Sheriff Larry Fowler.
Fort Worth Police said the similarities in the Parker County case and Martha Maxwell’s disappearance caused them to reevaluate the cold case.
Sonny Byington was the lead detective in the 1992 case. The former Fort Worth Police detective is now retired but said Martha Maxwell’s disappearance still haunts him.
“I was never able to find a body and I’m sure she’s deceased now, she’s been murdered,” he said, “I could never prove anything.”
According to the arrest affidavit in the Parker County case, in 1987 Maxwell allegedly “bound his wife, Marta Maxwell, with duct tape, drugged her, tortured her, sexually assaulted her, slashed her throat and dumped her in Carter County, Oklahoma.”
She survived and filed assault charges against her husband, but Byington said she later dropped them after the two reconciled.
“Jeffery convinced Martha that he was a changed person and they needed to get back together,” he recalled, “and she accepted that and went back to him.”
Four years later, she vanished from Fort Worth and Byington was handed the missing person’s case.
“In my mind, yes, I feel like he is responsible for her disappearing.” He said.
As police once again investigate the mysterious disappearance, Byington is hopeful they’ll finally be able to bring closure to the case.
“It would be difficult to talk to him, but if I could just ask for, you know, just to tell us what happened,” Martinez pleaded. “That’s all we want to know, what happened to Martha? So we could put closure to it.”