KCSO: Martinez caught

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Charlie “Rico” Martinez is pictured here in the back of a patrol car after his arrest Friday. This photograph was provided by the Knox County Sheriff’s Office.

A week long manhunt was brought to an end with the Friday night arrest of a man sought for questioning in the slaying of a 33-year-old nursing home worker from Roane County. 

Charlie Richard “Rico” Martinez, 23, was taken into custody without incident about 9:20 p.m. along with two other people, according to a press release from the Knox County Sheriff’s Office.

Although Martinez was officially being sought on an outstanding probation violation warrant, he’s considered a person of interest in the killing of Victor Daniel “Danny” Letner of Rockwood.

Letner was reported missing early this month. His body was found several days later in rural Knox County, and police said it appeared that he had died from a gunshot wound.

Martinez’s girlfriend and mother were arrested last week for their purported roles in what allegedly began as a robbery that turned into a murder.  Kendra Ivey, 21, has been charged with felony murder while Diana Jeanty, 46, has been charged with being an accessory after the fact and tampering with evidence.

Letner, age 33, worked in the field of nursing home care, according to his obituary. He loved to play video games and Pokemon as well as hanging out with his loved ones. He was survived by his parents, his sister and three brothers.

Martinez’s arrest was the result of close cooperation between several agencies and KCSO units, according to Knox County Sheriff Tom Spangler. 

“This is a fine example of how Law Enforcement can work together as a team regardless of geographical location,” Spangler was quoted as saying in the press release. “The information sharing and cooperation of everyone has brought Martinez into custody and, for that, Knox County citizens are safer.”

The United States Marshals Service Smoky Mountains Fugitive Task Force, United States Marshals Service District of New Jersey, and Rockwood Police Department worked with the Sheriff’s Office, Spangler said.

After his arrest, police discovered that Martinez had apparently been wounded, perhaps during his time on the run, according to KCSO spokeswoman Kimberly Glenn.

“He’s at the hospital being treated for a gunshot wound to the leg,” she said. “I don’t know when that occurred, it didn’t occur last night but appears to have happened recently.”

The status of the two people who were taken into custody with Martinez was up in the air pending further investigation, she said.

“I won’t know if they are being charged or not until the detectives interview them,” Glenn said. “It could be Monday if they get a lawyer.”

Published on February 27, 2021.