JONESVILLE — Jonesville Police Chief Roger Reece told a Jonesville crowd assembled outside of town hall more than eight months ago that though the case of slain Jonesville Police Sgt. Greg Martin may take another year or two to make it to trial, the arrest of those allegedly involved marked an important step in bringing justice to the case.
The words of Reece proved to be an indication of the persistence that would follow. Since then and with timely dedication, the crime of murder against fellow Jonesville Police Sgt. Martin has been resolved less than a year later.
It happened through team work and unity and resulted in closure needed for so many that included family, colleagues and a community that refused to forget about their own.
This week, Reece said he was looking forward to clearing the air about steps and emphasized the hard work taken by fellow police officers along the way. That work and experience secured the arrest and finalized the conviction of three suspects in the death of Martin.
Reece, who once worked for the North Carolina Department of Corrections and also as a detective, has worn many badges across the many areas of police work and investigations before becoming police chief.
In the Martin murder case, Reece said no matter what badge anyone carried, it was a close-knit relationship and going the extra mile from many that solved the case.
The chief emphasized how a team of investigators from all areas of law enforcement and the justice system pursued leads with patience and dedication throughout the years in solving their colleague’s murder.
He said along the way they employed the strategies of media, memorials and an increased reward amount brought about by the diligence of Chet Jessup, a retired Alcohol Law Enforcement agent from North Carolina.
Reece said Jessup asked what he could do to help and made a huge difference when the reward for information leading to those responsible for slain police officers was raised from $10,000 to $100,000. The increase became effective on July 18, 2013, after the bill G.S. 15-53 and 15-53.1 was amended.
“It shows the state cares about us,” said Reece.
He said since the 1996 murder of Martin, the Jonesville Police Department literally went through hundreds and hundreds of leads personally.
Reece gave special thanks to former SBI retired detective Ron Perry of Jonesville and now a detective with the Jonesville Police Department; Mike Garica, FBI, Charlotte Division; Jim Meade, FBI, Hickory Office; John Foster, Elkin Police Department and retired SBI; and Lloyd Terry and D.J. Smith of the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation.
Reece said, “These were hands-on close involvement.”
In addition, the chief added, “We always had the support of our citizens.”
Chrysler Company also was thanked by Reece for voluntarily providing VIN numbers and key codes, critical to close in on the investigation, he said.
“Without their help it would have almost been impossible,” said Reece.
Martin was killed after a traffic stop, one mile south of Interstate 77 in the early morning hours of Oct. 5, 1996.
Reece said Martin had radioed about suspicious persons across from a local shopping center and advised shortly thereafter about a suspicious red truck. North Carolina State Trooper Vann Tate had asked if Martin needed assistance with the stop and later found him murdered on the side of the road.
Martin and Tate had once worked together at the Mount Airy Police Department.
Reece said the criminals had dumped the truck with stolen license tags in a matter of minutes and stole a Lucia work van, proving their sophistication in crime.
In March of this year, Scott Vincent Sica of Cape Coral, Florida, entered an Alford Plea in Yadkin County Court and was sentenced to life in prison without parole. In addition, he was sentenced to 117 to 150 days for attempted robbery. Sica was arrested in October of 2012 in Lee County, Florida, by the sheriff’s office and held on warrants originally issued by Reece.
He was later extradited back to North Carolina where the judicial process began, said Reece.
In January of 2013, 37-year-old Brian Eugene Whittaker of Cape Coral, Florida, and Marc Peterson Olroyd, 42, of Rockwood, Tennessee, also were charged in the death of Martin after the Jonesville Police Department took out warrants for their arrests and they turned themselves in, said Reece.
Whittaker and Oldroyd both pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and additional charges related to the robbery attempt that proceeded Martin’s murder.
In June, Whittaker received a 14-year sentence and Olroyd received a 10-year sentence.
The sentences are not suspended.
Martin was only 30 years old when he was fatally shot multiple times. Reece said he appreciates the continued support of the family.
Tanya Chilton may be reached at 336-835-1513 or on Twitter @TanyaTDC.