Chippewa County Sheriff’s Department investigators are hoping new technology can shed some light on an old case.

The murder of Ruth Martin, whose body was found in her cabin on Marshmiller Lake on April 9, 1959, has remained unsolved, but is now under review by the Wisconsin Department of Criminal Investigation (DCI) and county investigators.

“The evidence has been maintained in the custody of the Sheriff’s office and with the development of new technology such as DNA we are hopeful it will reveal leads in this cold case,” Sheriff Doug Ellis said this morning.

According to press accounts at the time, the Martin murder case went cold very quickly.

Martin, 51, was found by her husband, Vyron, shot to death, on a sofa in the cabin they lived in year-round. Her body was nude, with her clothes folded neatly nearby. She was killed with a .22 caliber bullet to the temple. The murder weapon was never found. There was no evidence of sexual assault or robbery. In fact, robbery was ruled out as a motive, as jewelry and money were found in the cabin.

Vyron Martin was ruled out as a suspect, then-Sheriff Herman Peterson told the Herald-Telegram back in 1959.

Then-District Attorney Eugene R. Jackson stated Martin was apparently slain by a “sex deviate,” though he appeared to be only speculating based on the fact that her body was nude.

Investigation focused on a green Mercury automobile that had been seen in the area, though investigators did not know whether that vehicle had any connection to the case. Authorities were still looking for the vehicle, seen in the driveway by a neighbor, more than a week later.

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Day after day in the newspaper local officials would state that there was nothing new in the case. That has apparently remained true for over 47 years.

Ellis said the case came back to the attention of investigators because the department is in the process of bar coding evidence stored at the department. The original case and reports were documented by a firm identified as Special Agents Research Corporation of Green Bay, for the Sheriff’s Department, Ellis said.

The evidence was shared with the DCI agents, who met with local investigators.

Ellis said it could take months before the cold case investigators make a determination as to whether they can be helpful in the case at all. He does, however, expect that the Sheriff’s Department will receive some report on the matter one way or another.


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