A man arrested for a single murder in rural Alabama has confessed to at least 30 murders throughout the United States, revealing a vast network of illegal drug deals and murders for hire, police said.
Already, police in Florida and California say they have confirmed Jose Martinez's alleged involvement in 13 killings after he confessed details only someone at the scene of the murders would know, Lawrence County Alabama Sheriff Gene Mitchell told ABC News.com.
Taken into custody two weeks ago, Martinez, an alleged hit man for a Mexican drug cartel whom police describe as "an enforcer whose job it was to collect money or kill those who didn't pay," has been cooperating with police, confessing to a string of crimes that spanned decades.
It wasn't a drug deal but what police say was a personal vendetta that landed Martinez, 52, in a rural Alabama jail.
He is accused of shooting Jose Ruiz in the head for insulting his daughter and then dumping Ruiz's body on the edge of the woods in Lawrence County, Ala., in March.
Cops had suspected Martinez at the time of the crime, but did not have evidence to charge him and he fled to Mexico. Two weeks ago, Martinez, a U.S. citizen and California resident, was caught sneaking across the border from Mexico near Yuma, Ariz.
Authorities there extradited him to Alabama, where he confessed first to killing Ruiz, then to two more murders in Florida, and eventually to 30, including 11 in California alone.
"In the course of interviewing him on [the Ruiz] murder, we developed a good rapport," Mitchell said. "He felt comfortable talking to our investigator and in the course of those conversations, he mentioned he had done some other things."
Among those other things was a 2006 murder in Ocala, Fla., in which a cigarette was found at the scene with DNA that matched Martinez.
Though charged with murder, Martinez does not have an attorney and has not asked for one during a series of interviews, Mitchell said. He has not yet entered a plea.
Instead the accused murderer seems to want to unburden himself, police said, even though he will likely face the death penalty.
"I would suppose he doesn't have a lot of folks he can talk to," Mitchell said. "Everyone needs someone to vent to and he hit it off with our investigator."
Mitchell said Martinez was "likable, but that doesn't excuse his lifestyle."