There are far too many cases of children gone missing. Often times they are never found, but every now and then, after endless hours of searching and years gone by, a new clue comes to the surface that just may lead to some answers surrounding the disappearance.
Martha Jean Stewart went missing in November of 1985, and like most similar cases, her family made it their life mission to find the girl. Her mother, father, and brother, along with the Florida community spent countless hours searching for the seventh-grade girl. Martha, who was described as short for her age, blonde and feisty, wasn’t much different from her classmates.
Martha’s family struggled with money like some families do, and her parents fought more often than not. During these times, Martha and her brother David had sought solace in one another.
Thanksgiving Day of 1985 was one of the days that Martha and David’s parents got into a major fight. After their mother burned the Thanksgiving turkey, their father raged with anger which led the siblings to flee from the home for some peace and quiet. They headed to a nearby abandoned college where they often spent time. The building of what used to be Florida Memorial College had broken windows, graffiti and debris covering the floors, but it was an escape for David and Martha and less stressful than being in their own home.
The next part of the story is a mystery. According to 15-year-old David, the two siblings had split up to explore the building, but when he went looking for Martha, he couldn’t find her anywhere. It was dark by the time he gave up looking and headed home. As soon as he told his parents that Martha had disappeared, they called the cops and set up a search party.
The only conclusion that Martha’s mother could come up with was that her daughter was kidnapped. Both Martha and her abductor were never found and the mystery of Martha’s case is still known as the county’s longest-running missing person investigation.
Twenty-five years later, some new information came to the surface when David showed up at the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office. Now, at 38-years-old, David confessed that he had witnessed what happened to his younger sister the day she went missing, but he had been afraid of sharing it, which made him hold onto a terrible secret for several years.
As Martha’s folder was reopened in front of him, David told the detective the true story. Prior to their escape to the abandoned college building, they had gone to a convenience store to get candy. Once they got to the building, Martha demanded more money from David, but he refused, having already given her $20. Taken over by rage, Martha punched her brother in the face. In response to his sister’s physical attack, David pushed her and before he could catch her, she stumbled backward and fell, hitting her head on a rusty metal spike, dying instantly. After crying for help to no avail, David used an old sign to dig a shallow grave, where he buried his sister.
While David swears by his confession, the remains have yet to be found and his mother has told detectives that David is lying and that he has always been known to make up stories. According to David, he kept the secret because he was afraid of his mother’s rage. He was afraid that if she found out that he accidentally killed his sister then his mother would kill him.
Considering there is no evidence of wrongdoing and based on David’s age at the time of the incident, the State Attorney’s Office has decided not to charge him with manslaughter. There is also a theory that the police did not spend the proper amount of time investigating the case and searching for clues on the campus, however; Martha’s mother still believes that her daughter is out there somewhere.