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Maury Martinez’s mother speaks after remains found in Tennessee

Maury Martinez’s mother speaks after remains found in Tennessee

  • PublishedJune 5, 2024

Her mother, Anita Darling, told Local 3 News in Chattanooga, Tennessee, that Maury-Ange Faith Martinez would have been 21 years old on June 3.

GEORGIA, USA — A metro Atlanta mother is “torn apart” after police found her daughter’s remains 100 miles away in Tennessee months after she was reported missing.

Her mother, Anita Darling, told Local 3 News in Chattanooga, Tennessee, that Maury-Ange Faith Martinez would have been 21 years old on June 3, but her life was cut short. Darling spent the day with her other two daughters and picked up Martinez’s favorite red velvet cake to celebrate the day like her daughter would have wanted.

RELATED: Remains of woman missing since last August found in Tennessee

“She was a charismatic, magnetic, sparkling, fun, loving person,” she said.

Darling recalled her last moments with her daughter, not realizing it would be their last evening together.

“We spent the day together. It was August 17. We went out for sushi, and then we went to watch the Barbie movie. We just hung out that day. We just spent the day relaxing and catching up,” her mother said.

Martinez was reported missing by her family from Gwinnett County on Aug. 28, 2023. Gwinnett County officials said she was last seen leaving the jail on Aug. 21 before she disappeared. After an investigation, police said they discovered that the 20-year-old was actually last seen in Cobb County, near Powers Ferry Road, and not in Gwinnett. 

Her mom said she was just nine minutes away, ready to pick up her daughter from a metro Atlanta courthouse area, but when Martinez told her mom she caught a ride from someone else, something felt strange.

“She called me and said she had caught a ride. I thought that it was somebody who worked at the facility. So I thought, ‘Oh, that seemed to make sense.’ I had a conversation about it with her. It still seemed a little strange. I got off the phone with her and felt uneasy about it,” Darling added. 

When her daughter did not answer her text, she felt it was “completely out of her character.” 

“The worst things go through your head, and I’m not really sure I could describe them,” she added as they searched for her daughter for months. 

Then, in January of this year, human skeletal remains were found in a rural part of Chattanooga, Tennessee. It’s unclear how long the remains had been there. The Hamilton County Medical Examiner in Tennessee later confirmed those remains were those of Martinez. 

Darling remembered getting the call when the medical examiner confirmed the remains belonged to her daughter. 

“It’s hard. You are totally torn apart. Then, there is the heartbreak of realizing you lost your child. My kids are like my everything. It was horrible. It was huge,” her mother said, holding back tears. 

As her heart breaks, Darling speaks about her daughter’s character and how she wants to keep her daughter’s legacy alive. 

According to her mom, Martinez was in ROTC and competed on a team called Raider. Even though it was competitive, her mom said she never left a teammate behind.

“She was just one of those people who did not want to cross the finish line until she had her team with her. So it didn’t matter if she was coming up there approaching at first; she would go back for the person and help them get to the finish line,” Darling said. 

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Darling also described a moment when Martinez was singing at the top of her lungs in a shopping center parking lot with her friend. In what could be considered an embarrassing moment for others and her friend, Martinez kept going to make strangers laugh and smile.

“She was an all-loving person. And that’s one thing I think I really loved about her and her celebration of life. It was expressed over and over and over. People are just saying, ‘I never felt more loved or of myself than when I was in her company,'” her mother said.

Martinez’s family has decided to donate her remains to the University of Tennessee. Her mother said that the way police found her skeletal remains sparked the interest of medical examiners. 

“She had some things in her skeletal structure that they felt like it could be studied, and they were really interested in. They assured us that it would be helping up-and-coming medical examiners to help identify people in the future,” she said. 

Though her remains have been discovered, police are now looking for any information that might help them solve what led to her death. They are now asking for anyone with information to come forward.

Darling is encouraging anyone who may know anything to contact investigators in Cobb County, Georgia, or Hamilton County, Tennessee. 

“I don’t care how small it is. There are so many intricate details to this. You would be providing one little detail that could help everything and would bring so much comfort for her two sisters and me. We would appreciate it more than words can express,” Darling added. 

Anyone who may have seen her or had contact with Martinez around the time of her disappearance is asked to contact the Cobb County Police’s Crimes Against Persons Unit at 770-499-3945. Tips can also be submitted through Crime Stoppers of Greater Atlanta at 404-577-TIPS (8477).

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