Wisconsin Man Arrested 35 Years After Fontana Landlord’s Murder

Approaching 35 years after the murder of Angel Martinez, the Fontana Police Department and La Paz County Sheriff’s Office in Arizona report they have solved the long dormant case, arresting a Wisconsin man investigators say was the perpetrator.
Around 5 a.m. on June 8, 1988, the then-52-year-old Martinez left his home in Cypress, driving his 1987 dark blue Buick Skyhawk to Fontana, where he owned the Arrow Wood Apartments. Heading eastward on the 91 Freeway, then north on the 57 Freeway and east again on the 10 Freeway at that hour, he drove quickly, not having to contend with the heavy morning commuting traffic that was moving, for the most part, in the opposite direction. Just before 6:00 a.m., Martinez rendezvoused with the Arrow Wood’s property manager, who gave him rent money that had been collected from the apartments’ tenants.
Martinez had other appointments and meetings in Fontana that day and was supposed to meet his wife in the afternoon. The property manager was the last person known to have seen him. Martinez failed to show up to any of the appointments he had that morning or early that afternoon. At 8 p.m., his wife contacted the Cypress Police Department to report him missing. Nine days later, on June 17, 1988, Martinez’s car was found in the parking lot of a bowling alley in Duarte.
On June 20, 1988, Martinez’s body was discovered buried in a shallow grave in the desert in La Paz County, Arizona. Investigators with La Paz County Sheriff’s Department retraced Martinez’s trail to Fontana and then to Cypress but were stymied thereafter. Coordinating with the Fontana Police Department over the years, they interviewed over a dozen potential witness and had technicians and laboratories make increasingly exacting forensic testing of trace evidence that was collected from Martinez’s car and his corpse. With the progressive advancements with respect to DNA typing and more sensitive means of evidence extraction, investigators in both California and Arizona grew closer and closer to resolving the mystery.
By early this year, they had developed a working narrative about what had happened to Martinez sometime between 6:45 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. on June 8, 1988, one in which he was waylaid by someone in Fontana who knew Martinez was to be in possession of a large wad of cash.
Kelvin Keith Emmons, a graduate of John A. Rowland High School in Rowland Heights who had once resided in Fontana, Rialto, Rowland Heights and San Bernardino and was 28 years old at that time, was identified as that suspect.
In February 1995, Emmons was charged in San Bernardino County Superior Court with felony burglary, to which he pleaded not guilty. More than five years later, in May of 2001, he made in lieu of that charge a plea of guilty to felony theft in excess of $400 by means of misrepresentation as an access card holder, and was sentenced to 730 days not in prison but in the county jail.
In the meantime, in December 1998, Emmons was charged in San Bernardino County Superior Court with felony assault with a deadly weapon other than a firearm in a way that was likely to cause great bodily injury. He pleaded not guilty to that charge but entered a guilty plea to misdemeanor vandalism causing less than $1,000 in damage. The following month he was sentenced to summary probation.
Subsequent to his travails with the criminal justice system in California, Emmons moved to Wisconsin.
After Emmons was determined to be the prime suspect in the murder of Martinez, investigators charted his move to Wisconsin, where he had lived, at various times, in Oshkosh, Ashwaubenon, Green Bay, Portage, Suamico and DePere. Emmons married Mary Ruth Johnson on November 2, 2007. From 2012 to 2014, he worked for Alliance & Leicester.
In August 2018 he went to work for R. Sabee Company LLC in Appleton, Wisconsin as a maintenance mechanic.
On August 29, 2021, his wife Mary died at Bellin Hospital in Green Bay at the age of 69.
On March 1, 2023 the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office, working from evidence and affidavits provided by both the Fontana Police Department and La Paz County Sheriff’s Department, filed murder charges against Emmons accompanied by a warrant for his arrest.
On March 15, 2023, a Fontana Police detective and a district attorney’s office investigator flew to Milwaukee and then went on to De Pere, Wisconsin. With the assistance of the De Pere Police Department, the 63-year-old Emmons was taken into custody at 3030 Cury Lane in Green Bay on suspicion of having murdered Angel Martinez.
Fontana Police Chief Michael Dorsey said, “This arrest is a testament to our commitment to justice for victims and their families. I want to thank all those who worked on this case over the years for their dedication and hard work.”
Emmons was extradited and on March 28 he was arraigned on a single murder count before Judge Bryan K. Stodghill at the Rancho Cucamonga Courthouse. He pleaded not guilty. He is currently in custody at the High Desert Detention Center in Adelanto. He is next scheduled for a court hearing on May 16 in Department 15 at Rancho Cucamonga’s West Valley Courthouse.
-Mark Gutglueck

Leave a Reply