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Turlock doctor among Modesto homicide victims
amanda crews
Dr. Amanda Crews was found dead in her Modesto home, along with her 6-year-old and 6-month-old daughters. - photo by Photo Contributed

The Modesto Police Department has taken a suspect into custody for the death of five people, including a Turlock doctor and her young children.

The suspect, identified as Martin Martinez, 30, was taken into custody early Sunday morning in San Jose on the suspicion he was responsible for the death of a 2-year-old child in 2014.

Around 3:30 p.m. Saturday Modesto Police officers went to a home in the 2600 block of Nob Hill Court for a welfare check after 38-year-old Amanda Crews missed a planned meeting with friends.

Inside the home officers found five deceased individuals, including Crews, Anna Brown Romero, 57, Crews’ 6-month old and 6-year-old daughters and a 5-year-old relative. Romero was Martinez’s mother.

Detectives responded to the scene and began investigating the multiple deaths as a homicide and quickly identified Martinez as a person of interest in the case. Martinez was the biological father of the 6-month-old baby girl and had been residing at the Nob Hill residence up till two months prior to the incident, according to Modesto Police Department spokesperson Heather Graves.

A broadcast was sent out Saturday to law enforcement agencies statewide to assist with searching for Martinez. Around 1 a.m. Sunday he was taken into custody by officers from the San Jose Police Department as he was exiting a movie theater with his father, said Modesto Police Chief Galen Carroll.

Crews was a doctor with the Scenic Faculty Medical Group and the Stanislaus County Health Services Agency and routinely cared for patients in Turlock and Modesto.

“The Scenic Faculty Medical Group and the Stanislaus County Health Services Agency are reeling from the loss of Dr. Amanda Crews,” the agencies wrote in a released statement. “This is a very emotional time for our medical family as Dr. Crews was a beloved part of our care team.

“Our deepest condolences go out to the family, friends and patients of Dr. Crews. She was loved as a mentor to the residents she taught. She was loved as a physician by her patients and she was loved and respected by her colleagues,” read the statement.

Investigators have not released any information in regards to the manner of death or a possible motive, but Saturday’s deaths were not the first time Martinez’s name had been connected to a homicide investigation.

Martinez was under investigation for a prior homicide case involving the death of 2-year-old Christopher Ripley in October 2014. At that time, detectives were contacted by Child Protective Services after Christopher was admitted into an out-of-area hospital with possible brain injuries, and died a couple of days later. Detectives working the case established Martinez lived in a home with Crews and her 2-year-old son and was home alone with Christopher before he was rushed to the hospital, Graves said.

Martinez and Crews continued their relationship after the child’s death and continued living together until two months ago when Child Protective Services issued a protective order for Martinez to remove himself from the residence, Carroll said.

The Modesto Police Department hired a forensic specialist to examine the evidence in the death of Christopher Ripley. The investigation took nine months, but on July 16, the forensic specialist gave a verbal report to detectives stating the cause of death was blunt force trauma and the death would be ruled a homicide, Carroll said.

Carroll said Martinez was not taken into custody after getting the verbal notification Thursday, because the notification is not the final report and that the investigation into the 2-year-old’s death was not yet complete. They also didn’t believe Martinez posed a risk to anyone, Carroll said.

“At that time there was no indication that there would be any violence within that family,” Carroll said.

Carroll said after Saturday investigators “sped up’ their investigation and obtained a warrant to take Martinez into custody “to insure he was taken off the street and unable to disappear.”