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Police search for ex-girlfriend in suspicious death

Police say Jennifer Bautista of Sunnyvale is a person of interest who may know something about the death of 20-year-old Norma Leticia Martinez.

December 29, 2009 5:20:36 PM PST
Police are trying to figure out how and why a South Bay woman died. Letty Martinez died Monday under strange circumstances and now police are looking for her ex-girlfriend, Jennifer Bautista, as a person of interest.

Two things happened Tuesday afternoon on Michigan Street in Alviso. The family of 20-year-old Letty Martinez hung her photo there and crime scene investigators from the San Jose Police Department re-examined the area where Martinez was apparently dragged by a car and left.

"Just looking at her smile and knowing that we're never going to see it again, it's really heartbreaking for all of us," Martinez's aunt Mary Ramirez said.

Police are calling Martinez's former girlfriend, 19-year-old Jennifer Bautista, a person of interest. Investigators say the two had an altercation early Monday morning and Bautista is the last known person to see Martinez alive. But, police do not know yet if Martinez was beaten, intentionally hit and dragged by the car, or perhaps chased the car voluntarily then tried to hang on.

"Once we speak to Jennifer Bautista, it will be able to put more of the pieces of the puzzle together to find out exactly what happened and the injuries that were sustained," said San Jose police officer Jermaine Thomas.

Police could not find Bautista at the Sunnyvale apartment complex where she lives and there was no answer at her apartment Tuesday. The victim's family is convinced Bautista's relatives are hiding her and that her brothers may have even helped commit a crime.

"They didn't like my sister because they said my sister turned their sister gay. Yeah. It had to do with my sister being a lesbian," Martinez's sister Nena Estrada told ABC7. "My sister can't turn anyone lesbian. If you're a lesbian you're a lesbian."

Investigators are adamant this is not a hate crime, but both police and the victim's family are anxious to hear from Bautista.

"Obviously, she did it because she is running," Estrada said. "Why is she running if she didn't do it and if she didn't, please come and prove your innocence. Let us know what happened."

Martinez's family says her death has been made even more difficult because police did not notify the family that she was in the hospital with critical injuries and because of that delay, she died there alone.

A candlelight vigil was planned for Martinez, for 8:00 Tuesday night.


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