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Hours after allegedly killing 5 in Modesto, man took father to movies, police say

Hours after allegedly killing 5 in Modesto, man took father to movies, police say
Police officers carry evidence bags at a crime scene where five bodies were found in a home July 18 in Modesto. (John Westberg / Modesto Bee)

Just hours after allegedly killing five relatives, all women and children, in a Modesto home, Martin Martinez drove to San Jose and took his father to the movies Saturday night, police say.

All the while, Martinez's family members in San Jose had no idea he was wanted for the killings, according to the Modesto Bee.

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"My uncle didn't know anything that had happened," Gina Martinez, a cousin of the suspect, told the newspaper. "He didn't tell him anything. Everything was just normal."

Police found Martinez leaving the theater about 1 a.m. Sunday and arrested him after five bodies were found inside a house in the 2600 block of Nob Hill Court in Modesto.

The victims were identified as Martinez's girlfriend, Amanda Crews, 38; his mother, Anna Brown Romero, 57; his and Crews' 6-month-old daughter, Crews' 6-year-old daughter; and a 5-year-old girl who was also a relative.

It is unclear how the five were killed. The bodies were found after a friend of Crews called 911 when Crews missed a lunch date. According to the Bee, Crews was a doctor and worked for the Stanislaus County Health Services Agency.

At a Monday news conference, Modesto Police Chief Galen Carroll said police were preparing an arrest warrant for Martinez prior to the Nob Hill Court slayings because he was already a suspect in the death of a 2-year-old boy in October 2014.

Christopher Ripley, who was Crews' son with her ex-husband, died of blunt force trauma to the head last year while in Martinez's care, police said.  The department of family services separated Martinez from Crews' children at the time, but the pair maintained a relationship over at least the last two months, Carroll said.

Then on Thursday, a pathologist declared Christopher's death last year a homicide. Police began the paperwork to issue a warrant for Martinez's arrest, according to Carroll, but it had not been completed by the time Crews and the others were killed Saturday.

"It's horrible this tragedy happened, but there were no indications leading up to that time that anything like this would occur," the police chief said. "We put together a case. There has to be enough probable cause to arrest that individual, and then there has to be enough for the district attorney to file charges on the case. So, no, the Police Department did not drop the ball."

Police issued an arrest warrant for Martinez after the five bodies were found, Carroll said.

Martinez is being held without bail in the Santa Clara County Jail, awaiting charges.

For breaking California news, follow @JosephSerna and @TheRyanParker.

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