Texas officer faked his own death, fled into Mexico

Authorities believe an Austin police officer constructed an intricate suicide setup and fled to Mexico.

The Austin Police Department reported late Friday that one of its own, 29-year-old Coleman Martin, faces a misdemeanor charge of filing a false report.

Austin Police Association President Ken Casaday describes his fellow officer Coleman or "Cole" Martin as someone who loved to travel. A statewide BOLO - "be on the lookout" - resulted in the discovery of the officer's truck at Lake Amistad in Val Verde County, around 150 miles west of San Antonio.

Martin initially told his wife that he needed to leave their home to "clear his head", according to reports.

Police started searching for Martin after that call, and his wife "told police that family issues had fueled her husband's depression", reports The Dallas Morning News.

Police say she and Martin exchanged texts throughout the day and at around 10:15 p.m. Martin texted a handwritten note saying he intended on committing suicide by drowning himself in a lake near the Mexican border.

Austin Police say that morning Martin withdrew $300 from the bank, he went and got gas and then went to an Academy somewhere in Austin and bought a raft. He supposedly used his debit card to purchase a rope and concrete blocks. At around 11:50 p.m. Tuesday, detectives with APD's Homicide Cold Case/Missing Persons Unit were called to the house to help with the investigation.

Texas DPS's records reveals Martin had been stopped earlier in the evening by a trooper near Uvalde, Texas around 6 p.m.

At around 7 a.m. the next day, Lake Amistad National Recreation Area law enforcement reported to APD Martin's vehicle had been found in the lake with a suicide note inside, along with his keys and wallet, which contained no US currency.

The next day, investigators found the missing officer's vehicle near a lake, along with an apparent suicide note. Martin's wallet was in the vehicle but his passport was missing. His passport was not found.

Anxious over his safety when they initially believed he was in distress, police utilized the full array of state and federal resources in trying to locate him: Air support, boats, dive teams and ground efforts.

Police found a raft a few miles away from the vehicle, the affidavit says. Scrawled on the side of the raft was Martin's name, his date of birth and supposed "date of death", April 25, 2017. An inflatable raft was also found on the shore, with scrape marks along the side, which police believe indicated that a concrete block was pushed overboard. The IP address was in Mexico, the station reported. The tablet, equipped with WiFi capability, was not found in his vehicle by the lake.

Martin's mystery began to unravel further when an unidentified woman, who reportedly had a close relationship with him, told investigating officers that the whole thing was a hoax and that "the entire event was an effort to stage his own death".

Coleman Martin's plan unraveled when he told a woman he knew about the faked suicide, police allege. According to the woman, Martin said he abandoned his vehicle at the lake before grabbing a taxi to the border and a bus from there into Mexico. He then wrote that he grabbed a taxi to the border and hopped on a bus into the interior of the country, the affidavit states.

The call to the taxi company was placed at 10:56 p.m. Wednesday.

  • Joanne Flowers