SAN ANTONIO – Martha Batchelor’s killer walked into her apartment without being noticed.
He killed Batchelor, then spent what could have been hours sexually assaulting her before destroying the evidence and walking out, leaving a crime scene police describe as “heinous.”
Batchelor, 53, had no apparent problems with anyone -- that much San Antonio police know for sure.
“We believe that the early morning hours of July 6, (2013), about 4:30 in the morning, Ms. Batchelor was asleep in her bed. She likely heard a knock at the door or a noise of someone entering her apartment,” said San Antonio police Detective Mark Duke. “There was no sign of forced entry, so it’s likely that she may have known the person. We don’t believe it’s someone that she knows real well or has had an extended relationship with.”
Duke said a startled Batchelor tried to call 911, but she was overpowered by the man in her bedroom. That’s where Batchelor was murdered and sexually assaulted.
“We don’t believe that the offender introduced anything to the crime scene. He didn’t bring a weapon,” Duke said.
The killer did find a fire extinguisher in Batchelor’s apartment. No fire was set, but he did spray the extinguisher inside. A dusting of white powder was his attempt to cover up the brutal crime.
“It’s likely that the person -- the offender, in this case -- may have known where the fire extinguisher was kept,” Duke said. “We believe this was a crude attempt to destroy evidence like fingerprints and things of that nature. We see that from time to time on burglaries where the burglar will use a fire extinguisher to try and cover up evidence.”
There was nothing obvious missing from Batchelor’s apartment, Duke said, but that doesn’t mean the killer didn’t take something on the way out. Still, Duke said burglary was not the murderer’s intention.
“I don’t think there’s much doubt that this crime was sexually motivated,” Duke said.
Batchelor’s body wasn’t discovered until July 8. Maintenance workers from the Woodhills Apartments responding to a work order went into the apartment, saw her, then called police.
None of her neighbors had noticed anything unusual.
“There probably wasn’t an event that took place to draw people’s attention,” Duke said.
Police believe the suspect is Hispanic. While he has gotten away with murder so far, Duke said those who know the man might have their suspicions. In June 2016, police said they believed a woman may have been involved in the crime.
“It was such a heinous crime, I think it’s unlikely that someone’s not going to know that there’s something different about this person. I think he’s going to know there’s something a little bit different about himself and I think the people around him will know that there’s something different about him,” Duke said. “They may not give it much thought until maybe they put a few pieces of the puzzle together and, in hindsight, look back at some of the events that took place around that date. I think he’s going to have a hard time just blending in like this never happened.”
Police are hoping that releasing some of these new details will give them new clues leading to the killer.
“Anything that could relate (the suspect) to this crime, we’d be interested in knowing,” Duke said. "I think it's likely he will strike again."
Anyone with information on the crime can make an anonymous tip to Crime Stoppers at 210-224-STOP. There is a reward of up to $5,000 for information that leads to an arrest in the case.