OR OR - Barbara Martin, 15, Portland, 7 Dec 1958

Discussion in 'Pre-1960's Missing' started by SheWhoMustNotBeNamed, Sep 25, 2010.

  1. SheWhoMustNotBeNamed

    SheWhoMustNotBeNamed Former Member

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    [​IMG]
    Barbara Martin

    Lost/Injured Missing

    Missing From: Portland, Oregon

    Missing Since: December 7, 1958

    Age: 15 -- Hair Color: Blonde

    Barbara's nickname is Barbie.



    Barbara disappeared with her family: Her father, Kenneth R. Martin; her mother, Barbara Jean Martin; her sister Susan Martin, 12; and her sister Virginia Martin, 10. They disappeared from Portland, Oregon on December 7, 1958. They set off that day in their 9-passenger Ford station wagon en route to the Columbia Gorge, where they planned to collect greenery to decorate their home for Christmas. They bought gas at Cascade Locks, and were last seen leaving a restaurant in Hood River on the way back to Portland. They never made it home.

    In February 1959, a searcher found tire tracks heading off a cliff and into the Columbia River, near The Dalles, Oregon. In May 1959, a river drilling rig near the tire tracks hooked something heavy and metal with its anchor. Before it could be pulled up, it came loose. It may have been the missing Ford. A few days later, Susan and Virginia's bodies were found downstream near the Bonneville Dam. They had both drowned. Kenneth, Barbara, and Barbie's remains have never been found.

    Police believe the entire family perished after either accidentally driving into the river, or they were abducted and pushed inside their car off the cliff. An attempt was made to search the water for more evidence, but the search was called off after a diver nearly died. No further searches were made and the case was closed. Barbara and her parents remain missing, however.


    Doe Network

    Charley Project
     
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  2. SheWhoMustNotBeNamed

    SheWhoMustNotBeNamed Former Member

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    One of those "click-bait" articles, but at least it's about something worthwhile. Barbara and her family almost never receive any press. Good to get their names out there at least.

    [h=2]9 real-life horror stories of people who disappeared and were never found[/h]
    [h=3]1) The Martin Family (Oregon, 1958)[/h] Some of the best details in stories like these are those of the lives the disappeared left behind. What actually happened to the Martin family isn't much of a mystery — the family likely drove off the road on the way home, their car plunging into the river below — but the evocative snapshots of a life never resumed make this entry particularly eerie. It highlights all of the mundane details of life that might flash before your own eyes in the instant everything changes.

    http://www.vox.com/2014/10/31/7135439/real-life-horror-stories-disappearances
     
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  3. HelpingHeart

    HelpingHeart Well-Known Member

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    Has anyone on here ever been to that area to see how easy it is to accidentally go over the cliff?
     
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  4. TechWriter797

    TechWriter797 Registered Voter

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    An interesting piece from KOIN that I found on YouTube.

     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2019
  5. Snick1946

    Snick1946 Well-Known Member

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    I was in that area this Summer. Most of the highway on both sides of the river have guard rails. But that may not have been so in 1958.

    This is one of those cases that have nagging little anomalies. Why for example where the Martins still driving east away from home late in the afternoon? The last reported sighting of them was almost at dusk. The detective that spent thirty years on this case was convinced until he died that there was foul play, with their son involved. A book has been published recently:

    https://www.amazon.com/Echo-Distant...t=&hvlocphy=9024587&hvtargid=pla-810673820862
     
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  6. Snick1946

    Snick1946 Well-Known Member

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    One additional thought. Kenneth Martin's photos do not look like a man in good health for his mid fifties. He appears obese and puffy faced. Maybe he drove the car off the road while suffering a coronary.
     
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  7. mrz

    mrz Well-Known Member

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  8. JSolt1210

    JSolt1210 Well-Known Member

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    I think that's definitely a reasonable theory. The drive from Hood River to Portland would've taken about 1–1.5 hours depending on which highway they took—though I admit that I don't know if both those roads were there 60+ years ago.

    After a long day out, the girls could've been napping in the backseat, especially since it's a long ride and it would've already been getting dark by 4:30pm. If Barbara was also resting in the passenger seat, then Kenneth would've been the only one awake and alert. He too could've dozed off, lost sight of the road due to waning light, or even had a heart attack as you suggest, and before anyone noticed, they would've been in trouble. I realize that Virginia's skull was found with a hole in it, but as cause of death could not be determined due to decomposition, perhaps it was impact related?

    I also get that Donald is viewed as a suspect because of his poor relationship with his family, not attending their memorial service, etc., but everyone grieves differently. Maybe he didn't appear to grieve for them because he didn't get along with them, but that doesn't mean he was responsible for their deaths. Since he was stationed in New York at the time, he would've had to have someone follow his family to kill them—which of course is possible, but now we're introducing another person into the picture, someone else who would've had to keep silent all these years.
     
  9. Snick1946

    Snick1946 Well-Known Member

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    I just got the book, 'Echo of Distant water' and haven't finished it yet. So far a couple of things Stand out to me:

    Both Mr and Mrs Martin were on meds for heart issues. It wasn't specific what they were. Also, at about the same time the bodies of the two younger girls tuned up, two other bodies reportedly were seen floating down the river, reportedly two women. The author concludes they were all murdered. I am not yet convinced.
     
  10. mrz

    mrz Well-Known Member

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  11. Richard

    Richard Well-Known Member

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    Barbara Martin
    • [​IMG]
    • [​IMG]
    • [​IMG]
    • [​IMG]
    Barbara, circa 1958; Susan Martin; Virginia Martin; Donald Martin

    • Missing Since 12/07/1958
    • Missing From Portland, Oregon
    • Sex Female
    • Race White
    • Age 14 years old
    • Height and Weight 5'3, 125 pounds
    • Clothing/Jewelry Description Jeans with rolled-up cuffs and possibly a beige coat.
    • Distinguishing Characteristics Caucasian female. Blonde hair, blue eyes. Barbara's nickname is Barbie.
    Details of Disappearance
    Barbie disappeared with her family: her father, Kenneth, her mother, Barbara, and her sisters, Susan, 13, and Virginia, 11. The Martins were last seen in their hometown of Portland, Oregon on December 7, 1958. They lived in the 1700 block of northeast 57th Avenue.

    They set off that day in their nine-passenger cream and red 1954 Ford station wagon with the license plate number 1G-7156, en route for Columbia Gorge, where they planned to collect greenery to decorate their home for Christmas. They bought gasoline at Cascade Locks late that afternoon. They were seen leaving a restaurant in Hood River, Oregon late in the afternoon, on the way back to Portland. Kenneth was carrying two cameras.

    The Martins never arrived home. Everything was left undisturbed at their residence; the previous meal's dishes were draining in the sink, there was a load of wash in the washing machine, and Kenneth's Santa Claus suit was still laid out from a Christmas party he'd been to the night before. They also left a substantial amount of money behind in the family bank accounts.

    In February 1959, a searcher discovered tire tracks matching the Martins' vehicle heading off a cliff into the Columbia River, near The Dalles, Oregon. In May of that year, a river drilling rig near the site of the tire tracks hooked something heavy and metal on its anchor. Before the object could be pulled to the surface, it came loose. It may have been the missing Ford.

    A couple of days later, Susan and Virginia's bodies were found downstream, near Bonneville Dam. They had both drowned. Photos of the two girls are posted with this case summary. The cause of death could not be determined due to decomposition, but Virginia's body had a hole in the head. Kenneth, Barbara and Barbie's remains have never been recovered.

    Police believe all the Martins either perished after they accidentally drove their car into the river, or possibly they were were abducted and were inside their car as it was pushed off the cliff. The only surviving member of the family was the oldest son, Donald, who was in the Navy and stationed in New York at the time of the disappearances. A photo of Donald is posted with this case summary.

    Walter Graven, the Multnomah County detective in charge of investigating the Martin case, believed the family met with foul play. It would have been uncharacteristic of Kenneth to leave home at that time of day, as he didn't like driving after dark.

    Someone found a bloodstained gun in the Cascade Locks near an abandoned stolen car and turned the gun over to the sheriff's office. The gun was later linked to Donald; he had allegedly stolen it from a sporting goods store several years prior to his family's disappearance. It was never processed for evidence, however.

    Graven suspected Donald was involved in his family's disappearance, as he couldn't find anyone else who had motive. Donald had a poor relationship with his family and he didn't come back to Oregon during the search for them, although he did speak Graven over the phone. He didn't attend the memorial service for his family, although he did return to Oregon in June 1959 to settle the estate. He told Graven he couldn't think of anyone who had any reason to hurt his family, but that he also couldn't see how it could have been an accident.

    An attempt was made to search the water for additional evidence, but the search was called off when a diver nearly died. No further searches were made and the case was closed. Graven died in 1988 and Donald died in 2003. Kenneth, Barbara and Barbie remain missing.

    Barbie was a freshman at Grant High School at the time of her disappearance.
    Investigating Agency
    • The Dalles Police Department 541-296-2613
    • Multnomah County Sheriff's Department 503-255-3600
    Source Information
     
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  12. rob525

    rob525 Well-Known Member

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    Another dive on the suspected site was posted a few hours ago on you tube by Adventure with Purpose. They didn't find anything but it was interesting and may lead to rule out the car in the water theory.
     
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  13. glamourkitty1922

    glamourkitty1922 Well-Known Member

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    I wonder if the anchor hit Virginia and caused the damage to her head? Sounds like the driver may have become drowsy and ran off the road. How sad. I don't believe the gun had anything to do with the son though. He was on the other side of the country at the time.
     
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  14. atombudd

    atombudd Well-Known Member

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    A .38 Colt Commander handgun, covered in dried blood.
    There’s no official data on who the blood belonged to and whether it was tested at all. But even without any information about the blood, the gun itself had a surprising backstory.
    Two years before its discovery in the bushes next to the discarded Chevrolet, it was among several items that were stolen from a Meier & Frank department store.
    The person who was accused of the theft was Donald Martin — the eldest child and only son of Ken and Barbara. At the time, he was working at the Meier & Frank department store — and was fired for stealing what amounted to $2,000 of goods.
    But the biggest question has to do with the only surviving member of the nuclear Martin family: their eldest child, Donald.
    His connection with the gun found near the Chevrolet is not where the strangeness ends.
    He didn’t travel back to Oregon when his family disappeared. He only came once, in March 1959, to settle the family’s estate as a the sole beneficiary.
    He didn’t attend the memorial service of his baby sisters, Susan and Virginia.
    In fact, their cremated remains were left at the River View Abbey Mausoleum, unclaimed, for over a decade — until they were retrieved by an unknown individual in December, 1969.
    Meanwhile, Donald inherited the estate, moved to Hawaii, got married, and had children — and, allegedly, never spoke about his parents and sisters until he passed away in 2004.
    By all accounts, Donald’s relationship with his family had been strained. Ken and Barbara were apparently strict and religious. After the theft incident at Meier & Frank, they sent Donald to a Christian college which he left to enlist in the Navy.
    But there was an even bigger clash between Donald and his parents. Both the Meier & Frank store management and a friend and roommate of Donald’s stated that he confessed to having been under enormous personal strain. The reason was that his parents discovered he had been romantically involved with another man — and were very vocal about their disapproval.
    Donald was clearly the black sheep in the family. But did he hire two ex-cons to drive his parents and three sisters off a cliff?
    The police was never able to either confirm or disprove this theory.
    The Martin Family’s Plunge to Death: Accident or Murder?
     
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  15. luxISlight

    luxISlight Active Member

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    A very odd and tragic story. I just downloaded the book so I'm looking forward to learning more about the story. What are the odds of the gun found with blood being linked to the son who was in another state at the time? Wonder if that was verified he was where he claimed to be.
     
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