Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

February 12, 2010

Cold Case No More

Suspect arrested in 2002 Lowndes murder

LAKE PARK — Authorities have unraveled an 8-year-old cold case of a Kentucky woman strangled to death in Lake Park on Halloween night 2002.

The Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office has charged Maurilio Masadiego Martinez, 40, with rape and murder in connection with the death of 47-year-old Joy Morris of Madisonville, Ky. Martinez is being held in custody at Lowndes County Jail and has been denied bond.

Kathy Morris said that she had just gotten up for the day and was preparing to go to work on third shift when she learned an arrest had been made in her stepmother’s murder.

“When I found out, I was so excited,” she said. “I would’ve gotten up on the roof and shouted if I thought anyone would hear me. Closure is everything they say it is.”

Woody Morris, Joy’s husband, said, “It took a while to get to this point, but I think the authorities in charge of this investigation have done a wonderful job. I thank them for their work and dedication to the case.”

The Morrises say the murder tore their family apart and they finally feel like they can move forward from the tragedy that began Oct. 31, 2002.

That evening, Joy Morris was driving north after escorting a truck to West Palm Beach, Fla.

“She and her husband operated a vehicle escort service for wide and oversized loads,” said Lowndes County Sheriff’s Capt. Wanda Edwards. “Her black Mustang had a yellow ‘wide load’ tag stripped across the rear bumper in large letters and a sign on the car door reading ‘Double M Escort Service.’”

She was scheduled to meet another load on Nov. 2 at the T & A Truck Stop near Exit 2 in Lowndes County.

“When she got off at Exit 2, she got something to eat and gassed up,” Edwards said. “She also called her husband, who was in Kentucky at the time, and a friend, and told them where she was.”

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