Oakland child killer may have struck again

November 16, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
An Oakland family is angry over what may turn out to be a double murder by a man who has killed before.

The body of 23-year-old Zoelina Williams was found Friday morning. Her 17-month-old son was reported missing the next day. Williams' boyfriend, Curtis Martin III, is now in jail.

A child's body was found by kayakers Sunday off the Berkeley Marina, two days after Williams was found murdered in Aquatic Park. The coroner is expected to identify that child soon.

The Alameda County Coroner's Office has yet to release the identity of the child as they are still waiting for lab results. The family fears it is Williams' son and in the meantime, they are in absolute shock over her accused killer's criminal past.

"We seek justice. The Lewis family, we seek justice," said Brenda Lewis, Williams' first cousin.

She and other family members of the 23-year-old murder victim cannot believe why her accused killer would be allowed to roam the streets. He has been charged with her murder. She was found shot and beaten Friday morning in Aquatic Park along the shoreline east of I-80.

On Sunday, kayakers found the body of a child floating off the Berkeley Marina. It may be Williams' son, 17-month-old Jashon, who disappeared around the same time as Williams.

Martin served time for the murder of the 3-year-old son of a girlfriend 15 years ago. Devin Brewer was taken to a hospital with bruises and other wounds on his body. Martin claimed Devin had fallen while playing.

In 1994, he was arrested and charged in Oakland with Devin's murder. At the time, Martin was on parole for robbery. He also had previous convictions for armed robbery, burglary and weapons violations. Martin pleaded no contest to voluntary manslaughter and served six years of an 11-year sentence.

Last year, he was arrested for violating a restraining order against another girlfriend who was the victim of domestic violence. He was never prosecuted.

"Something has gone terribly wrong. This man should not have been out," Lewis said Monday. "He should still, they should have let him serve his time. Was his behavior that good to let a psychotic individual out on the streets?"

ABC7 tried to locate Martin's criminal records, but Alameda County's computerized public records only go back 10 years. The district attorney's office also had problems finding the files, but say they should have them by Tuesday and be able to comment at that time.

ABC7 also learned that Martin made constant threats against his former girlfriend who filed a restraining order. She was in a law enforcement protection program.

On Sunday, investigators pulled the body of a small child from the water at the Berkeley Marina. The question is, is it missing Jashon Williams, the 17-month-old boy who has not been seen since his mother's body was found nearby on Friday. An autopsy is underway and results are expected Monday or Tuesday.

Authorities were at the Berkeley Marina all day Sunday working on the investigation. Now, the Alameda County coroner is trying to determine whether the baby pulled out of the water Sunday morning is that of Jashon Williams or someone else. Family members of murdered Zoelina Williams are convinced this was her son.

"It looked like it had been in the water a long, long time," Dee Wood told ABC7.

Wood had just started out in her kayak when friends noticed something suspicious floating near a dock.

"They told us to come back because they had seen a body in the water," she said. "They didn't know if it was the body of a bird or something, but they suspected it was a baby"

Their sad suspicion was right. Devastated family members rushed to the marina even without official word. Williams' brother, Karim Toney, says he knows in his heart the baby is Jashon.

"They can't give us any information, but we put two and two together and it must be my nephew," he said.

Police arrested 38-year-old Curtis Martin Friday in connection with Zoelina's death. Family members believe they may have been dating. As they try to piece together answers, so do authorities.

"Obviously, there's a proximity to the lagoon and to the south Aquatic Park, to the estuary," said Lt. Andrew Greenwood. "There are flow paths between there through which water flows and those are large pipes or areas."

Family members say Zoelina never talked about her relationship with Martin. They do not believe the 23-year-old mother had any idea that in the mid-90s, Martin served six years in prison for beating his then-girlfriend's 3-year-old son to death. Many people want to know how a child killer could have been freed to kill again.

"I want to know why was he even out on the streets, knowing that he killed a baby or beat a baby," said Williams' cousin Myesha Bonner. "It just doesn't make sense."

"I think it's just a tragic situation, to where she was just dealing with the wrong guy, and he preyed on her 'cause she was a sweet person," said Toney. "She didn't think he would do anything to her."

Relatives say they have not actually seen Jashon since around Halloween. Many of them believe he may have been staying with Curtis Martin since then. Martin is being held at the Berkeley Jail with no bail and is due to be arraigned in Alameda County on Tuesday.

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