The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department arrested three men last week for the murder of Cloverdale resident Jose Evelio Martinez, 46. Martinez was last seen by his family on June 29 and was originally thought to be fishing.
He was reported missing to the Cloverdale Police Department on July 2, which reached out to the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department on July 17 for assistance with video forensics.
The Sheriff’s Department arrested Felix Fernando Carreon and Climmie Smith-Hill, both of Santa Rosa, and Socorro Sierra, of Healdsburg. Martinez is believed to have been taken by the three men on June 29 around 8 a.m. from Ray’s Food Place on Cloverdale Boulevard.
“Mr. Martinez was alone inside Ray’s, but upon leaving Ray’s Market he approached a dark colored vehicle parked next to his truck,” stated a press release from the Cloverdale Police Department. “It appeared that Mr. Martinez got into that vehicle and left the area, the video was of poor quality.”
Once in the vehicle, the Sheriff’s Department says Martinez was taken to a remote location near a Calpine Geothermal plant where he was shot by Sierra. The three alleged culprits then returned to Santa Rosa.
According to a press release from the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department, detectives “learned that Martinez and Socorro had significant marijuana dealings and that Sierra had recently threatened Martinez over a disputed business transaction.”
The release also said that Sierra went back to the scene of the crime on June 30, when he transported Martinez’ body to a marijuana garden off West Dry Creek Road in Healdsburg. The release stated that Sierra and Carreon then rented a backhoe and buried Martinez’ body.
On July 17, a truck matching the description of Martinez’ was found unoccupied in northwest Santa Rosa. The truck’s license plates had been removed and replaced with dealer plates. Once the detectives identified the truck as belonging to Martinez, they conducted a series of interviews which identified Sierra as the man who kidnapped Martinez.
Detectives learned the location of Martinez’ body and, on July 18, went to the garden and exhumed the body.
“He was a happy guy, always had a smile on his face and liked to tease us to make us laugh,” said Martinez’ niece. “He loved all the kids in the family and they loved him, (he) was the biggest animal lover.”
When asked about her favorite memory of Martinez, his niece mentioned fishing: “I remember fishing with him, he loved fishing,” she said. “I remember always looking up to him when I was younger. He was the fun uncle.”
According to the Sheriff’s Department’s release, Carreon had already been arrested on unrelated drug charges on July 10.
Sierra was arrested on July 17 with what is believed to be the murder weapon in his vehicle and Smith-Hill was arrested on July 18 after an interview with the Sheriff’s Department. All three men were booked on charges of kidnapping, conspiracy and murder; the men are being held without bail.
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on July 20 and updated on July 23 and 25.