Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Blood Brothers: Gary and Thaddeus Lewingdon

A Link Found

On April 30, 1978, Rev. Gerald Fields was killed while working part-time as a security guard at the Wigwam, a private club in northwest Fairfield County, which is just southeast of the city of Columbus. At first glance, it appeared to be a random murder, but the now all too common .22-caliber casings proved that the murder was anything but an isolated incident. Working on a hunch, investigators gathered all the spent casings and bullets, which had been recovered from the previous crime scenes, and sent them to the state crime lab for ballistics comparison. It did not take long for the results to come back and investigators finally realized that they had a serial killer in their midst.

Even though investigators now understood that the murders were connected, there was little evidence. Detectives began looking for connections among the victims' families or close associates, but were unable to find any links. The motive for the killings remained unresolved.

Jerry Martin
Jerry Martin

"To the best of my knowledge it is a complete mystery," Licking County Sheriff Max Marston told The Columbus Dispatch during a press conference. The only motive Marston could offer was that it "may be robbery."

Three weeks later, on May 21, a relative discovered the bullet-riddled bodies of 47-year-old Jerry L. Martin and his wife, 50-year-old Martha. The Martins' home was located at 3823 Morse Road in Franklin County. Both of the victims had been shot in the head numerous times, and several .22-caliber shell casings were found at the scene. Investigators were now considering the possibility that more than one person was involved in the murders. They thought that a gang or cult could be responsible, theorizing that it would have been difficult for one person to control each scene.

Martha Martin
Martha Martin

While investigators scoured the area for clues, family members of Martha Martin began showing up at the house. That day was supposed to be a festive occasion: it was Martha's 51st birthday, and the family members were arriving for a previously planned cookout.

As the investigation continued, detectives began reviewing old files on the off chance that an undiscovered link existed. The December 10, 1977, murders of Joyce Vermilion and Karen Dodrill caught their attention. The casings and bullets recovered from that double homicide were sent off to the lab and within days a match was made. Following this discovery, all charges against Claudia Yasko and the two men she had implicated were dropped. Even though they had not yet gone to trial, they were in police custody at the time of the other murders, and could not have committed them.  Why Yasko should have confessed was a mystery.


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