PHENIX CITY, Ala. (WRBL) — A family is left heartbroken after the brutal murder that took place on Hwy 80 near Misty Lane last Friday.
According to police on Sept. 24, 2021, Jessica Martin, 35, and her boyfriend, Richard Cook, 40, were shot and killed by Martin’s ex-husband Jeffrey Lynn Martin, 47.
Jessica Martin was eight months pregnant when she was pronounced dead at Piedmont Regional Hospital. Doctors performed an emergency Cesarean, but the baby died shortly after. Cook and Jeffrey Martin both died at the scene, Russell County Coroner and Phenix City Police both said Jeffery Martin died from what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Jessica Martin’s younger sister Samantha Autry told News 3 she was devastated when she got the phone call.
“It was surreal, I was at work. I got a phone call that something may have happened over here, I tried to get my mom on the phone. She reached out to Terry and he got over here and he was here whenever everything was going on, he was there for my nephew and tried to help him,” Autry said.
Jessica Martin’s, Uncle Terry (Bubba) Moore said he received a text saying he needed to come by the house.
“I didn’t know what was going on when I came over, there was a lot of police and across the street, there was even more police. When I came up the driveway, I was looking for my niece, so I asked them where she was at, and they said she was on the way to the hospital,” Moore said.
When Moore found out his niece was on the way to the hospital, he became hopeful but he said it was short-lived.
“It kind of gave me hope that she was going to make it, when I came up the drive-way my 14-year-old nephew came running towards me and he was like ‘Uncle Bubba, she’s dead…she got shot in the head.’ I asked him where Richie was at and he said Richie was here and I went over to talk to him expecting to see Richie, but he wasn’t here anymore,” Moore said.
After Moore learned Cook had died and rushed to the hospital to be with his niece, Moore said he and his family waited for news of his niece and her unborn baby, but he had a feeling things weren’t going to be good.
Moore also learned Jeffery Martin had been stalking Jessica Martine before he killed her.
“It was a lot of anger, it’d be different if she was in and out of a relationship with this guy. She found out he was crazy and got away from him and he had been gone for 10 years before he came up and did this. He just came out of the blue and started showing up for a week straight. They said he came to the door one time, this is when my niece called me and said she was scared for her life and she asked if she could come to my house,” Moore said.
Moore told News 3 Jeffery Martin threatened Jessica Martin.
“He came up and told her ‘ I started to kick the door in last night and kill you, Richard and that baby, I heard the kids in there so I didn’t do it.’ That’s what scared her, she called the police and they made her file a report. When she came back the next day, that’s when it happened,” Moore said.
Autry said her sister had only been home long enough to take a shower and change her clothes before their lives were changed forever. Russell County Coroner Arthur Sumbry said this death shocked him and the community.
“The first call I received was from the hospital and they told me right away what the situation was. The initial shock hit me pretty hard because they said we know we have two fatalities and I said okay. Then I got the call from the agency and they said we have two more that’s going to be related to it. Once I put the two together I was like, man, are you telling me all this happened in one day, in Phenix City Alabama? And the initial shock was just, I couldn’t believe it,” Sumbry said.
Sumbry said working on this case felt unreal to him
“What in the world has happened, it was one of those things where it was unreal to me. I literally was like Lord, let me get myself together before I go out and do anything. This doesn’t happen every day but certainly, when it happens in our area you think of other places, big cities,” Sumbry said.
Although this is still an unreal situation for Autry and her family, she said she’s still comforted by the memories she has of her sister.
“She had a heart as big as this world honestly and she just wanted to help people. She was a fixer and it didn’t matter what issues you had, anything that was going on in your life you could come here and she’d open the door for you, no matter what time of the night,” Autry said.
Autry said she’s still dealing with a lot of emotions.
“Anger, sadness, worry and it’s hard to express them all when they all want to come out at the same time. It sucks, honestly, it’s tough. Knowing I can’t just call her like hey I need you or just to come and see the kids or just to come down here, just to be on the phone with her and hear her talk and tell me about her day,” Autry said.
The family has started a GoFundMe to pay for funeral expenses, if you would like to help please call 706-563-6385.