Details of Disappearance
Martha's family last heard from her on Mother's Day in 1992. She was living in Fort Worth, Texas with her husband of eleven years, Jeffrey Allen Maxwell. She had kept in regular touch with her family with phone calls and visits. In May 1992, they got a letter from her stating she was leaving Jeffrey.
Martha's relatives believe the letter was either a forgery or she was forced to write it, because she would normally have just called them instead of writing. Her brother called Jeffrey to ask about Martha, but he hung up on her. Martha's brother then flew to Texas and filed a missing persons report.
Police investigated but couldn't find any indication as to what happened to Martha. Jeffrey stated she simply left him, leaving behind her Social Security card, her credit cards, her car and their young son. In 1995, Jeffrey filed for divorce. He stated he didn't know Martha's whereabouts and hadn't seen her since 1992.
Jeffrey is the prime and only suspect in Martha's disappearance. In April 1987, she was found on the side of Interstate 35, about 10 miles north of Ardmore, Oklahoma, and taken to the hospital. She was bound with duct tape, her throat had been slit and she had other severe injuries.
Martha survived and told investigators Jeffrey had bound, drugged and tortured her the night before. Authorities searched the Maxwell home, but didn't find much evidence to support the story. Jeffrey was charged with aggravated assault and Martha took their son and went to live with her parents in Mexico.
While she was gone, Jeffrey wrote her several letters apologizing for his actions and urging her to reconcile. Martha eventually came back to him and stopped cooperating with the police in the kidnapping case. A jury declined to indict Jeffrey in July 1987, and the case was dropped. Martha disappeared five years later.
In March 2011, Jeffrey was charged with kidnapping and sexually assaulting a 62-year-old woman. The woman went missing after her house burned down, and was found alive thirteen days later in a secret compartment in Jeffrey's home. She'd been bound, raped and tortured.
A photo of Jeffrey is posted with this case summary. In February 2012, he was sentenced to life in prison for the crime. He denies any knowledge of Martha's whereabouts.
Jeffrey is also being looked at as a possible suspect in the 2000 disappearance of Amelia Smith
. Authorities haven't found any evidence that he knew Smith, but her disappearance was remarkably similar to the 2011 kidnapping.
Foul play is strongly suspected in Martha's case; investigators believe Jeffrey murdered her, but he has never been charged in her disappearance.