Martha Jean Lambert was born on the 26th March, 1973 to Margaret Ann Lambert-Pichon and Howard Lambert. She was born in Elkton, Florida.
Martha was described as a shy girl, who was also incredibly kind and who loved to spend time with her friends. However, Martha’s home life was far from perfect. Howard, her father, was an alcoholic with an explosive temper. Her mother would often argue with her father, and her two brothers considered strange. Due to factors that have never been made public, but possibly child abuse, Martha and her brothers spent much of their younger years in foster care, and going between foster homes.
Despite being small in size, Martha was often the peacekeeper between her two brothers and got along with them with them quite well. Martha also enjoyed spending time with her mum, and Martha’s mum referred to Martha as her “best friend.” Martha enjoyed going to Church, and despite having low grades at the time, she enjoyed school as well. Martha loved spending time with her family and was looking forward to Thanksgiving 1985 because she was going to spend the day with her family at her grandmothers house.
Martha was last seen on 27th November, 1985. She had attended school that day at Ketterlinus High School, and once school was over she went to a friends house. Martha then left her friends house to return to her own home, on Kerri Lynn Road in St. Augustine at approximately 7:30pm. What happened after that is unclear, as her family members gave different stories of that night. Martha was reported missing at 3:00am on 28th November, when no-one could find her.
The police started to search for Martha immediately. They searched along Kerri Lynn Road and State Road 207, but sadly nothing was found. The case started to go cold quickly and the police started to loose hope of ever finding Martha. Police did think that Martha was a runaway to start with, but this changed with time and police now believe that Martha met with foul play.
Since the disappearance, Martha’s mother has believed that Martha was kidnapped and taken from the area. According to Margaret, on the night Martha went missing, her and Martha were at a social gathering when Martha said: “Mom, I’m going over, I’ll be back in five minuets”. After realising that a lot of time had passed, Margaret went out and started looking for Martha. Margaret then reported her missing later on.
Authorities questioned the neighbourhood, and some neighbours said that they saw Martha walk down Kerri Lynn Road later that night. Other neighbours also reported that they saw a green van driving around the area, and say that they noticed it specifically because it was not native to the neighbourhood. The green van was spotted shortly after Martha left.
Martha’s brother, David Lambert, gave police different stories of what happened that night. He stated that he saw Martha getting into a black vehicle, but after investigating more, police say that the story did not hold up. David then went on to state that he and Martha were having dinner that night, when Martha stood up and said she was going out. When David asked where she was going, Martha told him it was “none of your concern” and would not give out her destination. She left, and David watched as Martha walked out.
The authorities have always suspected David, Martha’s brother, of hiding something about her disappearance. At one point, he told investigators that Martha was alive and had contacted him, and she was going to contact the officers working on her case as well. But that never happened. David was around 14 years old in 1985.
In 2000, David got arrested for trying to cash a bad cheque. Whilst arrested, he told the police that he was responsible for Martha’s death and that he had buried her in a coquina mine known as “The Pitts” on Holmes Boulevard. The mine was searched, but no body was ever found. He was let go due to lack of evidence.
In 2009, David again confessed to killing Martha. This time, he claimed that on the 27th November 1985, he and Martha left their home because their parents were fighting over a burnt turkey. He said that they went to a Lil Champs convenience store, and that he had over $20 with him. David said that Martha spent just over $4 and gave him the change, before they both went to the abandonded Florida Memorial College to play. Whilst there, David said he and Martha got in a fight because he didn’t give Martha another $20. David claims that Martha slapped him in the face because of this, and in retaliation, David pushed Martha back. Martha fell, and hit her head on a piece of metal. David pulled Martha up, only to find a huge hole in the back of her head and blood coming out. He screamed for help but no-one came. David said that he was so scared of what his parents would think, he dug a makeshift 3ft grave using a broken sign and buried Martha.
The police do believe that David told the truth about what happened to Martha, but he was not charged with manslaughter because of his age at the time of the incident and the statue of limitations had expired. Since then, David recounted his confession and said that he doesn’t know what happened to Martha, and has stood by the fact that has significant emotional and mental problems. The police spent 2 days searching the grounds where the college once stood, but they never found her body. Demolition and construction at the site may have moved the grave.
However, David is not the only theory that stands with Martha’s case.
Martha’s mother, Margaret, along with many other people, has always believed that Martha was abducted by someone who she did not know that night. Margaret also claims that David often tells tales to get attention, and does not think he had anything to do with her disappearance. The police did look extensively at Martha being kidnapped by a non-family member, but they have never been able to find any evidence of this. A few people were questioned over the case, no one has ever been charged. Many agencies also refer to Martha’s case as a non-family abduction. Margaret also remains hopeful that Martha is still alive.
The police do not think Martha is alive, and instead they are hopeful that they will be able to find her body and collect DNA from her to enter into the NamUs system, as her dental records have already been added to the national databases.
This case is definitely a tragic one. On the one hand, you have her brother who could be telling the truth but, after all these years and the countless number of times he has changed his story – is it believable? Or, was he not involved at all, and simply just wanting to get attention like his mum said? Also, who was driving the green van the night she vanished? Was it simply someone driving around, or were they connected to Martha?
Let me know what you think happened to Martha Jean Lambert in the comments.
True crime, missing, unsolved, children, USA