Murder of Shannon Martin by Luis Alberto Castro and Kattia Cruz investigated on ID

Family pic of Shannon Martin
Shannon Martin was just 23 years old when she was killed by Kattia Cruz and Luis Alberto Castro. Pic credit: Family pic

Dead Days of Summer on ID is investigating the murder of Kansas student Shannon Martin, who was stabbed to death by Luis Alberto Castro and Kattia Cruz while she was staying in Costa Rica.

Martin was a 23-year-old University of Kansas student from Topeka, KS, and in 2001, she was spending time in the town of Golfito, Costa Rica, where she was working to gather specimens for a biology project.

On May 13, 2001, Martin had gone out for a fun night at a bar, but sadly, she never made it home. The student’s body was later found next to an airstrip near her host family’s home.

She had been robbed and stabbed 14 times. It’s also suspected that the killer attempted to rape her.

The outcome of this case was hugely influenced by the victim’s mother, Jeanette Stauffer, who is credited with hounding local and American authorities and forcing them to act.

Stauffer found the FBI reluctant to help but was greatly aided by Kansas Bureau of Investigation Assistant Director Larry Thomas, whose children went to the same high school as Martin.

Kathia Cruz and Luis Castro were arrested for killing Shannon Martin

Eventually, Kathia Cruz and Luis Castro were arrested and charged with the murder. In 2003, the pair were convicted of so-called Simple Homicide, in Costa Rican law this is similar to second-degree homicide. They were both given a sentence of 15 years each.

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At the time, the lead judge on the case said, “We don’t have evidence to support that they wanted to kill [Martin] from the beginning, nor that they wanted to rob her.”

However, a couple of years later, their conviction was switched to the equivalent of first-degree murder, and their sentences were increased. Castro would now serve 35 years, and Cruz now got 30 years.

Stauffer has since worked to found the Shannon Lucile Martin English-Language Center in conjunction with the Shannon L Martin Foundation. According to its website, the foundation was established in memory of Martin and works to provide “opportunities to learn English and gain job skills” for the people of Golfito.

More from Investigation Discovery

Follow the links to read about more murders profiled on ID.

William Lewis went on a shooting rampage after his wife left him. He murdered his wife’s friend, Cynthia Rolle, before killing two random strangers, Roger Orr and Antonio Stepney, and finally attacked his wife, Rosa Lewis.

Chase Merritt butchered the McStay family, including their two young children, and buried them in a shallow grave in the Californian desert. His motive was greed and a severe gambling problem.

Dead Days of Summer airs at 9/8c on Investigation Discovery.

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