The Jonesville Police Department on Oct. 3 at 11 p.m. announced that an arrest had been made in relation to the 1996 murder of Jonesville officer Sgt. Gregory Keith Martin.
“As I first announced last night, an arrest has been made in connection with this case,” said Police Chief Roger Reece with the Jonesville Police Department in a second press conference. “Thirty-six-year-old Scott Vincent Sica is charged with first degree murder. Mr. Sica was taken into custody in Cape Coral, Fla. [Oct. 3] at approximately 7:45 p.m. He is currently being held at a detention center in Lee County, Fla.”
Reece said there are plans to extradite Sica to North Carolina in the near future. Reece said that the arrest was made after members of the Jonesville Police Department, Elkin Police Department, N.C. Special Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation worked together in the investigation to gather information and physical evidence that led to the arrest of Sica.
Reece said that both the NCSBI and the FBI are processing additional evidence to further the investigation.
“I know everyone is very eager to hear the specifics on the evidence against Mr. Sica, but you must understand that no additional details can be released in order to protect the integrity of the ongoing investigation,” Reece said. “Sixteen years’ worth of work has gone into solving this case. Sgt. Martin’s murder has haunted this community, this police department and the members of the law enforcement agencies here with me today. We must do everything we can for the judicial process to proceed successfully, both for our investigation and for the rights of the accused in this case.”
A small town’s nightmare
According to a case file on America’s Most Wanted, on Oct. 4, 1997, Sgt. Gregory Keith Martin was working the night shift for Jonesville Police Department. Martin reported to dispatch that he was investigating a suspicious person behind a strip mall.
According to the case file, Martin followed the individual to a red Dodge pickup truck onto I-77 and pulled him for a traffic stop. A state trooper who had heard Martin’s reports on dispatch offered to help him, and Martin requested the trooper come to the traffic stop out for backup.
The trooper arrived to find Martin lying on the side of I-77 with multiple gunshot wounds to his head. Martin died at 2:42 a.m. on Oct. 5, 1996.
The suspect fled the scene before the trooper arrived and the red Dodge truck was later found abandoned in Elkin. The truck had been stolen from Ramsey Motor Dealership in Princeton, W. Va. The truck possessed stolen tags from a Chevrolet Blazer in Princeton, W. Va. that were reported stolen three days earlier.
Once the suspect abandoned the truck he allegedly stole a company van from The Lucia Company in Elkin. That van was later found abandoned in a Home Depot parking lot in Gastonia, N.C.
In May 2011 the FBI pledged an additional $100,000 to the existing $30,000 reward for any person supplying information leading to an arrest in the death of Martin.
According to a Tribune article written in June, the Jonesville Police Department had a cold case unit set aside to work on the case. Its members included Ron Perry, retired SBI (State Bureau of Investigation) agent; John Foster, retired SBI agent who was one of the original investigators on the case; and two FBI agents, Mike Garcia and Jim Meade. According to The Tribune article, the investigators evaluate the information that comes in and chase down each lead, no matter how insignificant or bogus the tip may seem.
The cold case unit would meet every Tuesday to discuss the ongoing investigation. New leads would come in regularly, often from citizens who have seen or heard something about it on the news. Perry told a Tribune reporter in an interview a few months ago that about 15 leads have come in since January of this year.
A portrait of a criminal
According to an article printed in The News-Press in Fort Myers, Fla. Sica’s family, neighbors and friends were shocked to learn of Sica’s alleged murderous past. What it seems they didn’t know was his criminal background.
According to the article, court records show that Sica had pulled off an armed robbery at a Home Depot he once worked for in Cape Coral, FL. less than two months before the murder took place. He used several of the same tactics that were found in the Jonesville crime.
According to the article, police records show that when Sica was fired from Home Depot for poor job performance he began planning to rob the store with several friends.
According to the article, police records show that on Aug. 7 of that year, he entered the store armed with a handgun and wearing a rubber “old man” mask and ordered employees to the ground, duct taped their hands and eyes, then stole $35,461 in cash from the vault and fled with his alleged accomplice, Brian Whittaker.
According to the article, Sica was arrested in 1998 and was convicted of two armed bank robberies in Tennessee. He was sentenced to nearly 10 years and ordered to pay $10,000 restitution.
According to the article, authorities connected Sica to the Cape robbery while he was serving his 10 years and served time in a Florida prison before finishing his federal stint in 2006 and spending the next five years on supervised release.
A family’s closure
Family members stayed on hand following the second press conference last week to speak to the media and share their feelings on this emotional day.
“Roger Reece called us yesterday and asked us to come down to the courthouse because he had something he needed to tell us,” said Brittany Hart, Sgt. Martin’s daughter. “When he told us that they had a suspect in custody I just thought ‘thank God, it’s about time’.”
Sgt. Martin’s brother, Jeff Martin, was also on hand at the press conference.
“It’s been a long time coming, and he’s been free too long,” said Jeff. “I hope he gets what he deserves. We also realize that it won’t bring him back but it will start to bring closure. It’s amazing that it’s finally coming together.”
Brittany had similar sentiments when it came to the upcoming trial for Sica.
“I hope he gets what’s coming to him,” Brittany said. “I hope karma comes back to him and pays him back tenfold for all of the pain and suffering he’s done to our family.”
Brittany said that the fact that the arrest comes so close to the anniversary of her father’s death is very surreal. She said she’s still trying to remind herself that it’s not a dream.
“I am so relieved, and I can finally sleep at night,” Brittany said. “It’s just a lot off my chest.”
Melissa Blakely, Sgt. Martin’s sister, still wears a pair of hand cuffs that served as a tie pin on his uniform. She wears it proudly today as she remembers her brother.
“It’s been 16 years that we’ve been waiting for this and not just our family; the police department has worked hard, the community has worked hard,” Blakely said. “He respected and loved this town and he loved the people in it.”
Blakely said that she had spoken to her brother the week that his murder took place and they joked back and forth over the phone while they filled each other in on their families. Blakely said that she can’t find a way to rationalize why someone would choose to take her brother’s life.
“There’s nothing [Greg] could have done that warrants [Sica] to take my brother’s life,” Blakely said. “I was the same age as the suspect when he killed my brother and there is no reason that he should have ever done that. Greg was doing his job.”
Blakely said that she knew exactly what she would say to Sica if she got the opportunity to talk to him.
“I would just ask him why,” Blakely said. “I would tell him that I was his age and he didn’t have to do this. I would tell him that I made the wrong choice.”
Blakely said that Sgt. Martin’s mother is still alive but in poor health. She was not able to make it to the press conference but seems to feel relieved that a suspect has been arrested. Sgt. Martin’s father passed away in 2001.
“I think he died of a broken heart,” said Jeff.
Blakely said that she expects this year’s memorial to be a completely different experience and more emotional than years passed.
“It’s going to put a whole different meaning to it,” Blakely said. “Not only can we celebrate his life, we can celebrate that justice is in sight and he can rest in peace.”
Reach Lindsay Craven at 679-2341 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.