The other ‘girl next door’
As I entered the newspaper publisher’s office, he beckoned me into his private office, asking me, “Do you remember Mary Martinez?”
“Oh, gawd, what now?” I inquired, shaking my head.
My memory banks flashed back a couple of years, when he had assigned me a story regarding a woman named Mary Martinez who had lost a son in Afghanistan, and the organization she subsequently created, “Gold Country for the Troops,” to support friends and families of veterans. The publisher was pondering an idea of highlighting a veteran each month after the article was published as a community outreach.
After scheduling a date and time with Martinez, I was met at the side gate of her home by her husband, Daniel. She preferred the interview take place in their backyard. Although I presumed it due to the pleasant temperatures, something didn’t feel right. However, I politely followed them to a pond, as I glanced around the yard which, if it had been kept up, could’ve been a lovely area.
Martinez reminded me of the stereotypical southern belle, a Scarlett O’Hara type, who — even when the world is burning, collapsing — she is perfectly dressed, perfectly made-up, and not a hair out of place. In other words, although she grieved for her son, “the show must go on.”
Her quiet husband, on the other hand, was dressed in hanging-out-at-home attire, as if his presence was an after-thought. She seemed annoyed whenever I asked him a question.
The entire interview felt “off.” Something wasn’t quite right, such as her violent facial reaction to her husband’s innocent, standard response to one of my questions. The intensely deep shade of red clashed with her outfit.
She rarely made eye contact with me.
She mentioned at one point that her father had been in the military, so when I suggested a photo of her holding a military portrait of her son, with a military photo of her father in the background, she agreed.
We entered through the back door into a “junk room,” where walking space was seriously limited. An altar had been created to her son on a shelf beneath a window; a mound of items – including stuffed animals – lay at the base of her son’s photograph. She looked through a couple of boxes, and announced she couldn’t find the photo of her father. Could she email it to me? I told her that was fine.
As she walked me back outside — not through the house, but back to the backyard — around the house, returning to the side gate, she emphasized the urgency of the article because there were events that were coming up.
A week passed with no email, so I called to remind her. Oh, I’ve been so busy, she told me, but I will definitely get that to you. A second week goes by and no email, so I send her a reminder email. Still nothing received.
After the third week, I sent her an email advising that if I didn’t receive the photo by Friday, the article would not be punished.
She went ballistic, shooting me a long, scathing reply, proclaiming her disgust at my insensitivity, blah, blah, and she refused to let me anywhere near the article. I decided to just walk away.
The publisher pulled me back to the present moment, as he gestured to an email on his computer monitor.
It has been discovered that Mary Martinez’s true identity is that of the infamous Charlene Gallego – half of the infamous “Sex Slave Serial Murderers,” whose killing spree spread from 1978 to 1980.
Because of my weird experience with that interview, he asked me to write an article, but to stick with the facts only, which I did. He chickened out, in my opinion, by not giving it the full headline story. Instead, there’s the teaser up in the right-hand corner:
What couldn’t be mentioned in the article is that she is under investigation for an unrelated issue, nor could I mention who is performing the investigation. It will come out later.
A television station interviewed her, but kept her “true identity” concealed, which I found amusing. Small communities have a great communication line. There aren’t too many residents in her neighborhood that are unaware of who lives next door to them. There is a website where her actual street address has been posted.
One resident advised the publisher – but didn’t want it printed yet due to the possibility of a lawsuit – that Martinez/Gallego had not only been a Thanksgiving guest of hers last year, but actually sat across the table from the parents of one of her victims.
Martinez/Gallego’s audacity at moving back to the area where most of the killings took place pales to her ongoing audacity of hosting fundraising events, and leading a veterans’ event, including posing for photographs. She doesn’t care.
The girl next door ain’t what she used to be.