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Ira Edwin Martin
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Birth: Feb. 15, 1879
Missouri, USA
Death: Oct. 26, 1940
Canyon City
Grant County
Oregon, USA

Parents: Charles Martin and Rebecca Jane (Hedges) Martin Denham; w-Clara B.(Tulley) Martin, children: 2 daughters

Charles and his wife Clara were murdered by their ranch hand Charley King (real name Ray Leroy Brown - former convict) at their ranch.

John Day Valley Ranger
November 22, 1940

Mystery Surrounds Pair's Disappearance

Only the accusing voice of circumstance speaks.

The hills, the mountain home, Ira E. Martin and his crippled wife are silent. They have disappeared like the mountains have swallowed them. Mystery has fallen, like a mountain fog, on the goat ranch of the man of the hills.

Officers are baffled. No one knows. But men search; they seek hidden new-made graves, and they scratch in the charcoal beds of campfires for the charred bits of human bodies. And the search goes on, and snow falls, and trace and track and clue are obliterated.

But circumstances cry out from the everlasting silence of the mountains, and in a cell, in the county jail in Canyon City Charles King is being questioned, hour after hour, day after day, he tells his weird and strange story, for he heard Ira Martin speak his last and he saw Ira Martin for the last time when he left here with an unnamed, unknown and unidentified man in a big Hudson automobile.

It is a weird story. A strange complex of life. A mountain mystery.

And only Charles King knows. He is a mountain hermit. Tall, bent, and bony, long, flowing blonde hair, bushy red beard, with splotches of white for he is 68. And a man with a past for he spent 13 months in the Wyoming penitentiary for horse stealing, and that was 40 years ago. He is deeply religious and from the twinkling stars that light his goat camp there comes the commands from on high, and he obeys, for vengeance is mine sayeth the Lord, and man pays, and pays for his misdeeds.

He was taken into custody Sunday by Sheriff Hazeltine and state police, assisted by federal men in the examination. First they had to clean him up. He was too dirty to put in jail. For a man who lives on goat milk and drinks from a tomato can has to be cleaned for human habitation even if it is only a jail.

Martin, 60, crippled wife, old, heavy, helpless, lived in a shack in the mountains five miles south of here near Miller Mountain mine. King herded sheep for Brad Herburger and 18 months ago came to the Martins. They got into the goat business. Martin was the grey bearded man, with a long staff who came to the New Deal creamery, John Day, with a can of goat milk every two weeks. King had 110 goats; Martin 20. They quarreled. Martin told King he must leave with the goats. Martin told Lawrence Roba of Miller Mountain this; King told them also. And King did leave with his goats, south along the ridge, four miles to a new camp and range. Martin was to help King build a corral. That was October 24th, and King tells his story.

He said that Martin went home. That night he stayed in the new camp. About 11 o'clock at night be heard the tinkling bells on the goats. He followed the sound; he followed the goats and about 11 o'clock the next day he was at the Martin home. An unknown, unidentified man in a Hudson car drove up. Martin and his old wife got in and drove off. And that was the end of them. It was raining, the mountain road was steep, muddy, slick, and the Roba Bros. could not drive a car on such a road, and this story excited their suspicions. Martins did not take their clothes; they left everything as it was. They were going to a daughter Judith, committed to an institution in Portland, and King says they were going into the goat business in or near Portland. They never arrived in Portland. They have never been heard from.

Only the voice of circumstances speaks.

Martin's knapsack and staff that he carried were found at the upper goat ranch.

King told several people that he had bought the place, and that he sent Martin $25. He lied about this. He said he lied. He got letters from them. He lied about it. He said that he did. He cashed the goat milk check for $7.85 and he forged Martin's name and on this charge is being held. He is not accused of the murder or Ira Martin and his wife. But he talked to them last. He knows.

And he knows about a man by the name of Gallup. And he is gone. His wife, however, is at the goat camp. This Gallup woman, about 20, has a child in arms, and another at her side. Goat milk is substance to them.

Charles King is a strange man. He tells his story to the officers, over and over again, contradictory, conflicting, and he says he lied, but he holds fast to the statement that some unknown, unnamed man, drove over impassable roads in a big Hudson car, and that Ira Martin and his crippled wife left on a moment's notice, leaving clothes and all personal effects behind.

And this is what the voice of circumstances proclaimed.

And County Judge Allen answered by offering a reward of $150 for the bodies of Mr. and Mrs. Ira E. Martin, whom the court believed had been murdered by some unknown man.

During the week searching parties have been in the mountains. Dogs took up the trail. And then the snow fell, and a mantle of white covered all, and winter silence, with the sigh of the pines, and the wind moaning a requiem breaks the stillness of it all.

John Day Valley Ranger
November 29, 1940

Grand Jury Indicts Brown For Murder, 2 Bills

As the Ranger goes to press it is learned that the grand jury brought in two indictments against Bron for first degree murder, one in the killing of Ira E. Martin, and the other, the killing of Mrs. Ira E. Martin.

The grand jury, at this writing, has been hearing testimony for the past two days in the case of Ray LeRoy Brown, alias Charles Edward King, confessed slayer of Ira E. Martin, elderly goat rancher, whose body and the body of his wife were found last week in a shallow grave about 75 yards from their cabin following a search of several days' duration headed by Sheriff I. B. Hazeltine, State Police and other officers assisting which was begun when the two were reported missing from their hill ranch on Miller mountain, a few miles southwest of here.

Discovery of the bodies was made, late Thursday, after Brown, who had told all kinds of stories regarding the couple's mysterious disappearance, finally broke down from the constant questioning and grueling examination by the officers and confessed that he had buried them after a shooting fracas in which, he declared, he shot Martin after the latter had shot Mrs. Martin, Sheriff Hazeltine reports.

Having allegedly cashed some cream checks which belonged to Martin, Brown is held on a forgery charge. Before confessing the shooting of Martin, he had been questioned three days and nights by Sheriff Hazeltine, Sgt. Joe Miller and Trooper Guy Church of the state police and C. L. Jamison of the state livestock theft division.

A careful, intensive grand jury investigation is being made, but at this writing testimony was still being taken and, it was thought that the grand jury would probably return an indictment by the time this paper went to press.

Brown told officers, according to Sheriff Hazeltine, that the fatal shooting followed an altercation between Martin and his wife. After Martin shot Mrs. Martin and he in turn shot Martin, Brown was quoted as saying, he became frightened and decided to bury the bodies.

The bodies were exhumed Friday and autopsy was held at the Driskill Mortuary in John Day Friday with Dr. Joseph Beeman of the University of Oregon medical school crime laboratory assisting with the autopsy.

Funeral service for Mr. and Mrs. Martin were held Monday afternoon conducted by Rev. Ernest H. Brown and interment was in the Canyon City cemetery.

John Day Valley Ranger
December 6, 1940

Sentenced to Life Confinement, 2 Counts

Ray LeRoy Brown, alias Charles Edward King, pleaded guilty of murder in the second degree and was sentenced, Tuesday morning by Judge Robert N. Damon, to the state penitentiary for life. He was charged with the shooting and killing of Ira E. Martin, elderly goat farmer, and also for shooting and killing Martin's wife, Clara, near their cabin on Miller mountain on October 27. Brown received life sentences on both charges and they will run concurrently, the court ruled.

Brown was cool and unperturbed as the sentences were passed. The procedure was very brief and there was only a small group of spectators in the court room. The defendant appeared with his attorney, E. P. Truesdell and was surrounded by police officers to afford him protection in case of any disturbance as it had been rumored that mob violence might occur, however such was not the case and the crowd was very orderly and quiet.

Sheriff I. B. Hazeltine and his deputy, Noel Lemons, left Tuesday afternoon with the prisoner for Salem where, in the state penitentiary the confessed double slayer will serve the rest of his life, and so ends the case of what was probably the worst crime ever committed in this county and which for nearly a month remained as a mystery until officers finally extracted from him a confession that he had shot and killed Martin after Martin had shot and killed Mrs. Martin and that he had buried the bodies grave near the cabin. It was not until Tuesday morning, when an agreement was reached through Brown's attorney and the district attorney, J. M. Blank for the plea of guilty to a second degree murder charge, that Brown would admit killing Mrs. Martin. After confessing to killing Martin, he had contended throughout that Mrs. Martin was shot and killed by her husband and that Brown then shot and killed Martin.

Brown came to Grant county about a year and a half ago and for a short time previous to the killings, had been working for the Martins. He admitted having escaped from an asylum for the insane in the state of Montana.

Family links: 
  Jane Hedges Denham (1856 - ____)
  Clara Belle Tulley Martin (1888 - 1940)*
*Calculated relationship
Note: Possibly buried in an unmarked grave.
Canyon City Cemetery
Canyon City
Grant County
Oregon, USA
Created by: Pam Roach
Record added: Apr 17, 2013
Find A Grave Memorial# 108677670
Ira Edwin Martin
Added by: Pam Roach
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 Added: May. 30, 2013

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