Indiana News

Ex-wife, daughter speak about turning in murder suspect Ralph Martinez

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Catalina Noriega is a nurse by trade, so it's in her nature to help other people, and that's why her ex-husband had been living with her the last two years.

But one evening in April, she came to a frightening realization that the man sleeping next to her was a murder suspect. Tonight, Noriega and her daughter talk about that moment.

"I think I did what I had to do. I went to the police and I told them I believe I know who the suspect is," said Catalina Noriega, the suspect's ex-wife.

Catalina Noriega turned in her ex-husband, Ralph Martinez, for the murder of Griffith businesswoman Mary Austgen. Austgen's body was found dumped in a parking garage at Majestic Star Casino in Gary March 29th. Police say she had been shot in the abdomen.

"Serving God comes first, before serving man. If it would have been an ex, or if it would have been a daughter of mine, I would have turned them, too," said Noriega.

Noriega remembers when surveillance pictures flashed on the news, she was watching TV with Martinez.

"I said, 'Oh my God, that looks just like you.' He says, 'That doesn't look like me.' And I said, 'It looks like you,'" said Noriega.

She says they saw the pictures on Univision, and then ABC7. And the news announced a $10,000 reward.

"When they showed the reward again, that's when he made that statement: 'Is that all I'm worth?' That's when I put two and two together and said 'Oh, my God,'" said Noriega.

And Noriega said she thought about a ring on her dresser she had tried on.

"I thought, well maybe he bought it for me for my birthday, because my birthday was coming up in May," said Noriega.

Noriega says they went to bed, but at 1 a.m., she woke up, hid in a closet and called her family.

"I said, I have to go to police, 'cause there is a lady who has been murdered and if he's the one who caused it, I can't keep that to myself," said Noriega.

"I love my mom so much, she is a hero," said Christina Cooper, Noriega's daughter.

Noriega's daughters support her and their father, although it's difficult.

"It's kind of like he's passed away, but he hasn't. He's still in our lives, but I still want to be there with him," said Cooper.

Martinez is facing murder charges for Austgen's death. In the end, Noriega just wants the truth.

"If he would tell the truth, Stacey, he would be set free. Set free by God's power. A freedom he can't get anywhere," said Noriega.

Ultimately, it's a lesson about courage and standing up, even when it's so hard.

"I think that's what more people need to do, they need to just come forward and tell the truth," said Noriega.

Noriega says that she is praying for Martinez. Martinez will appear in court later this month.

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

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