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Suspect in Modesto quintuple slaying is also suspected in child’s 2014 death

The man suspected of killing five people in a Modesto home over the weekend -- including his mother, a woman with whom he had had a relationship and his baby daughter -- may have killed the woman’s 2-year-old son last year, police said Monday. 

Martin Martinez, 30, was arrested Sunday in San Jose after the bodies of Amanda Crews, 38; Anna Brown Romero, 57; and three children were discovered Saturday afternoon at a house in the 2600 block of Nob Hill Court in Modesto.

Romero was Martinez’s mother, and Martinez and Crews had a prior relationship and were the parents of one of the slain children, a 6-month-old girl, according to police.

The other children were Crews’ 6-year-old daughter and a 5-year-old girl who was also a relative, police said.

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It is unclear how the five were killed. The bodies were found after a friend of Crews called 911. The friend had grown concerned because Crews had not arrived for a planned meeting, police said. According to the Modesto Bee, Crews was a doctor and worked for the Stanislaus County Health Services Agency.

Modesto police Chief Galen Carroll told reporters Monday that Martinez is also being investigated in the October 2014 death of 2-year-old Christopher Ripley, “which may be tied to” the five slayings discovered Saturday. 

Christopher was Crews’ son, Carroll said. He said the boy was taken to the hospital with head injuries and died after being cared for by Martinez.

On Thursday, about nine months after Christopher’s death, a forensic specialist investigating his death told police that the boy had died from “blunt-force trauma not by an accident,” Carroll said.

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When reporters asked whether the weekend’s homicides could have been prevented had Martinez been arrested right after Thursday’s revelation, the police chief defended the timing.

“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,” Carroll said. “So, no, the Police Department did not drop the ball.”

He said Child Protective Services had been involved, but he did not specify when or how.

Martinez is being held without bail in the Santa Clara County jail.

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