Detectives: Suspect in Marion double homicide admits killing more than 30

Marion County sheriff's Detective T.J. Watts holds a picture of Jose Manuel Martinez, who police say confessed to killing Javier I. Huerta, 20, and Gustavo E. Olivares-Rivas, 28.

Doug Engle/Star-Banner
Published: Wednesday, June 12, 2013 at 1:09 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, June 12, 2013 at 1:09 p.m.

A man labeled by authorities as a hired assassin, who is wanted locally for two murders, told a Marion County Sheriff's Office detective he has killed more than 30 people.

The Sheriff's Office has a warrant for the arrest of Jose Manuel Martinez for two counts of premeditated first-degree murder in the slayings of Javier Huerta, 20, and Gustavo Olivares-Rivas, 28, whose bodies were found Nov. 8, 2006, inside a pickup on State Road 19 near the intersection of East State Road 40.

Detectives believe the murders were contract killings connected to a large amount of cocaine stolen during a home-invasion robbery.

Martinez, who will turn 51 Thursday, is in jail in Alabama on a murder charge in that state. MCSO Detective T.J. Watts traveled to Alabama to interview Martinez, who told the detective that he has killed more than 30 people, according to an affidavit attached to the arrest warrant.

"If I didn't do the job, someone would have," Martinez told Watts.

Martinez was captured while crossing the border from Mexico into Arizona. When authorities discovered the outstanding warrant from Alabama, he was put in jail in Yuma County and later was extradited to Alabama.

Although the Marion County warrant has been issued for the arrest of Martinez, it has not been served because doing so would start the clock on his possible demand for a speedy trial, giving Marion County only 175 days to bring Martinez to trial. Chief Assistant State Attorney Ric Ridgway said that would create a "logistical nightmare" because the case in Alabama is pending.


Back in 2006, a sheriff's deputy responding to a motorist's report about an abandoned vehicle found the bodies of Huerta and Olivares-Rivas on the back seat and back floor board of a black Nissan Titan parked on the east side of SR 19 about 100 yards north of SR 40. They were bound with zip ties and had been shot multiple times.

Inside the truck was a Mountain Dew can in the center console. Inside the can was a filtered cigarette butt, which was later sent to a Florida Department of Law Enforcement lab for DNA testing. Also in the truck were eight 9mm shell casings.

In late February, Watts reviewed a lab report that indicated DNA on the cigarette butt was a match to Martinez.

On May 15, Watts was contacted by a representative of the Alabama Bureau of Investigation, who said they had an active warrant for Martinez in the shooting death of a man in Lawrence County, Ala. Watts also was told about a man who was with Martinez at the time of that shooting.

A week later, Watts went to Alabama and interviewed the man with assistance from translators. Watts was told by the man that Martinez was always bragging about killing people and said he had done a job in a small town near Orlando. The man said Martinez worked with an associate of a Mexican cartel to collect unpaid debts. If the people didn't pay, Martinez would kill them. The man told Watts that the Florida job was related to stolen kilos of cocaine and that Martinez collected the debt and killed both men.

Watts also interviewed Martinez in Alabama, and he told the detective the dead men had stolen 10 kilos from another man, and while he would not say who hired him, he said, "They hired the best."


According to reports, the original investigator in the case, Detective Owen Confessore, learned that Huerta was involved in the sale and distribution of large amounts of cocaine, and it was alleged that a week earlier, he had stolen 10 kilograms of cocaine from a man.

Watts, in his follow-up investigation, discovered that four men had committed a home-invasion robbery in De Leon Springs where 10 kilograms of cocaine were taken.

According to Confessore, Huerta and Olivares-Rivas had worked on a masonry job together in Daytona Park Estates in DeLand. After work, they went to Olivares-Rivas' home in Pierson, along with some co-workers. A short time later, Huerta left and went to his own home, also in Pierson. There, Huerta received a call about doing a masonry job in De Leon Springs and told his wife that Olivares-Rivas was going to go with him.

Huerta went to Olivares-Rivas's home, but discovered he had left with another man. That man told authorities he picked up Olivares-Rivas and they went to Lake County, where they purchased some marijuana in Astor and then went to another man's house in Astor.

Heurta knew where the men were and went there, reports say.

The man who had driven Olivares-Rivas to the home told authorities that, while they were there, Huerta got a phone call and he and Olivares-Rivas left in Huerta's truck to go to De Leon Springs for the job.

According to the reports, sometime later, Huerta called his wife and said he and Olivares-Rivas were in De Leon Springs and that he needed her to get all the money from a safe buried in their backyard and bring it to him in Barberville.

The woman told authorities the safe contained $150,000 in cash, which she put into a brown plastic bag. After several hours, the woman said, her husband called and told her he was coming home to pick up the money. She said when he arrived, he removed $40,000 from a box, grabbed the $150,000 in cash and left.

It was the last time she saw him.


Martinez told Watts that he called Huerta around midnight and told him he had purchased a home in DeLand and wanted an estimate for a job there. He said Huerta and Olivares-Rivas met him and then followed him to the home, where they "tried to act smart," according to the affidavit. He said he told them he knew all about the large amount of cocaine that had been taken and said he made Huerta call his wife to get the cash.

Martinez told the detective he drove both men to Huerta's home, where Huerta went inside and got the $190,000 from his home and another $20,000 from inside the truck.

Martinez said he took the men back to the residence in DeLand, where he made them tie each other up with zip ties, the affidavit states. He said he had two 9mm guns, one for each man.

Martinez said he made both men get into Huerta's truck and he got in and began driving and later pulled off the side of the road. He said he killed both men, using only one of the guns, because if they lived they would be looking for him. He said he tortured the older man because of the way he works, which is, "If you lie, he pays," according to Watts' affidavit.

Martinez said one of his partners who had been following the truck picked him up and he threw both guns away roughly two miles from where the truck was parked. Then they drove to Atlanta.

Martinez told the detective he was giving him all the information because it was time for him to pay for all the things he had done.


Inspector Felix Rodriguez, Sgt. Keith Miller and Capt. Robert Sandlin also were involved in the investigation.

During a news conference Wednesday, attended by Rodriguez and Watts, Watts said they had "over 300 items of evidence" in their possession. He said that over the course of the investigation, as new people learned about the work being done and the evidence was collected, the team would approach the case with a "fresh set of eyes" and review each item and "work our way back."

Watts said Martinez had referred to himself as a "bail bondsman for the cartel," saying he got 25 percent of the debt collected on each case and the cartel kept the rest.

During the news conference, officials also said that Martinez has confessed to 11 murders in California.

Marion County officials have gotten a detainer for Martinez and notified Alabama authorities that they have a warrant. Ridgway said other states also are interested in Martinez as a possible suspect in other crimes.

Contact Austin L. Miller at 867-4118 or

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