Indiana News

Man charged in Ind. woman's kidnapping, death

Thursday, April 25, 2013
Mary Austgen

A suburban man has been charged with the killing of a northwest Indiana businesswoman after her body was found last month in the parking garage of an Indiana casino.

Ralph Martinez is charged with murder and his ex-wife played a critical role in the investigation and turned him in. They have three children and one of the daughters said that they are very sorry, they have the deepest sympathy for Mary Augsten's family.

The also said, "We commend our mother for making this courageous decision. While we cooperate with the authorities, we continue to love and support our father."

"With additional leads generated by the recent media exposure, Martinez became prime suspect leading to the warrant and search of his residence and the subsequent arrest and charges," said Griffith Police Chief Greg Mance.

Some of Austgen's loved ones were in Griffith when the charges were announced.

"We're elated," said Jeff Austgen, the victim's son. "We've had a lot of emotions the last several days. One minute we're glad he's been apprehended, the next minute it doesn't change what has happened."

Police say Martinez is the man seen entering Austgen's business in Griffith at 2:42 p.m., March 28th.

Court records state Austgen was about to leave at 5:07 p.m. The suspect grabbed her, she fell, and he pointed a gun at her. They went to her office, and left the building at 5:36 p.m.

A cell phone light is seen in the pictures.

Police say Martinez's cell phone records place his phone at the business and Majestic Star Casino, where her body was found the next day.

A critical break in the case came when authorities released photos of Austgen's rings earlier this week.

ABC 7 has confirmed with authorities that Martinez's ex-wife saw the missing rings inside her home, waited for Martinez to fall asleep and notified authorities.

Those rings, however, have not been located yet but police explain what the ex-wife witnessed.

"She observed one of the rings," said Mance.

Along with the rings, the suspects' three daughters viewed surveillance pictures and recognized this man as their father and also identified the baseball hat.

Police say Martinez abducted the 76-year-old grandmother from her Griffith business march 28th. The next day, she was found dead inside her SUV at the Majestic Star Casino.

Police say the surveillance video matches the suspect and that Martinez had rented garage space from the victim.

"There has been indication of that," Mance said.

According to court records, Martinez and his wife were watching television when they saw the story of Augsten's death on the news.

At that point, according to court records, Martinez told his ex-wife, "That's not me," and added, "lots of people with money get killed."

When the reward was announced on television, he then said, "Is that all I'm worth?"

There is much more in the court documents, specifically what happened inside Augsten's business the day she was kidnapped.

(Copyright ©2014 WLS-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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