During his 30 years on the force, Martin was among Halifax’s top cops. He handled hundreds of major cases and was lead investigator on 25 murders. In 2001, after contributing to the arrests in two murders, an attempted murder and a kidnapping, as well as apprehending a serial sex offender, he was named Police Officer of the Year. His credentials include certification as a hostage negotiator and training in crime-scene analysis and cold- case investigations. He retired in 2008 after suffering three cardiac arrests. That’s when Martin started focusing on more heart-friendly pursuits, like woodcarving, fly-fishing and running the small farm in the Musquodoboit Valley, northeast of Halifax, where he lives with his wife.
Today, Martin, 57, runs a private- investigation firm that does consulting mainly for lawyers. Discreet and affable, he‘s the kind of man who encourages others to do the talking-qualities that helped make him a decorated cop. Occasionally, when families of missing persons ask him to take on their cold cases, he will, so long as he isn’t interfering with a police investigation.
“I think he really feels for the families, including my own, who are trying everything to get answers,” says Kimberly McAndrew’s younger sister, Megan. “A dog with a bone comes to mind when trying to sum up his personality.”
Although 70 per cent of homicides are resolved within the first week, Martin believes opportunities to solve old crimes continually arise. New leads may result in officers being assigned to reinvestigate a file on the back burner. Anniversaries or media coverage about similar cases remind the public about an unsolved crime, which may convince witnesses to push past their fears or apathy and come forward. Often those thought to be responsible for unsolved crimes reoffend. “When they’re arrested again, for crimes big or small, you reinterview them, remind them that someone’s still working on that case,” says Martin. “Sooner or later, they’re likely to make a mistake, incriminate themselves.”
None of this will happen if officers assigned to unsolved homicides aren‘t actively pursuing them and police forces aren‘t supporting the effort. According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance, “Because cold cases can be very labour- and time-intensive and may require innovative investigative techniques, squads are most effective when they consist of investigators who have significant experience.”