Leanne Martinez was the victim of a savage home invasion by Richard Fresquez which led to her rape and murder

Mugshot of Richard Fresquez
Richard Fresquez was sent to prison for the murder of Leanne Martinez. pic credit: New Mexico Dept. of Corrections

Murder Comes Home looks at the brutal case of Leanne Martinez, who was murdered in her own home in Taos, New Mexico, in July 2002. This horrific act changed the lives of the Martinez family forever.

Leanne was the 22-year-old mother of a 3-year-old daughter, Estrella; she was a bubbly, lively person who was very friendly and touched many people’s lives.

  1. On July 14, 2002, Richard Fresquez broke into Martinez’s home and savagely raped and stabbed her repeatedly, before slitting her throat. Luckily 3-year-old Estrella was staying with her grandmother at the time. It was when Leanne failed to collect Estrella that the alarm was raised.

Small town suffered two brutal murders

This was the second murder of a young woman in that month in this so-called quiet mountainous resort in New Mexico. On July 9, Marioara Shand, 38, was found stabbed to death in her apartment.

Police were quick to deem the two crimes unrelated. Shand’s next-door neighbor and grandson to her landlord,18-year-old, Nathaniel Duran was arrested for that murder.

In a very short space of time, Taos went from a town where you didn’t need to lock your front door to a place where you didn’t walk alone at night.

Richard Fresquez charged with murder

In the Martinez case, Richard Fresquez was seen driving the victim’s red Mustang, which was later found abandoned in Albuquerque. Fresquez had been out on parole for just a few weeks when he committed this heinous crime.

He was eventually picked up by officers and charged with a parole violation for being in possession of a stolen vehicle. He was finally charged with the murder of Martinez and sentenced to life imprisonment with the possibility of parole after 30 years.

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Martinez’s sister Valerie Martinez has spoken about the changes to the lives of family members left behind. Valerie moved back to Taos to assist her mother in raising Estrella.

As an active member of New Mexico Survivor of Homicide, Valerie has fought hard for the rights of victims, which included battling a House Bill that would have seen her sister’s killer eligible for parole every two years.

Other crimes involving a home invasion

Follow the links to read about other home invasions that led to horrific tragedies such as the shocking murder of Debi Whitlock, a 32-year-old mother who was raped and murdered at home while her 3-year-old daughter slept just a few feet away.

Or read about the bizarre murder of Michael Brinkman by two men in clown masks in a quiet neighborhood of Omaha, Nebraska.

Watch the case on Murder Comes Home at 9/8c on Investigation Discovery.

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