Timeline: Austin police officer flees to Mexico after staging his death

Coleman Martin (Austin Police Department Photo)
Coleman Martin (Austin Police Department Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Coleman “Cole” Martin, an Austin police officer believed to have staged his suicide last week and fled to the interior of Mexico, has now been on the run for five days.

The 29-year-old officer, who joined the Austin Police Department in 2011, was last seen late Tuesday night as he crossed into Mexico and boarded a bus for the interior of the country.

Anyone with information on the location of Officer Martin is asked to call the Austin Police Department Homicide Cold Case/Missing Persons Unit at 512-974-5250 or 911.

This timeline is formed from law enforcement statements and an arrest affidavit for the officer.

Tuesday, April 25

10 a.m. — Officer Martin leaves his house.

11 a.m. — The officer withdraws $300.

11:15 a.m. — Martin buys gas and then purchases an inflatable raft at an Academy Sports store in Austin, getting $50 cash back at 11:17 a.m.

2:19 p.m. — Martin buys an HP tablet. Police later say it is one of the items not found in the officer’s truck near the lake.

3:50 p.m. — He gets food from a Wendy’s in Live Oak, Texas, just northeast of San Antonio.

6 p.m. — A Department of Public Safety trooper pulls over Martin, about 100 miles away from Lake Amistad, on US Highway 90 near Uvalde, Texas. The trooper reported there was luggage in the vehicle and Martin did not appear to be in “crisis.” Officials have not said why he was stopped.

10:15 p.m. — Martin sends a text message to his wife with a photo of his handwritten note stating he was going to commit suicide and drown himself in a lake near the border. This is his last phone activity logged.

10:56 p.m. — The officer calls a taxi to take him to the border crossing, after riding a bicycle from the lake to a convenience store to place the call. He then crosses the border and boards a bus for the interior of Mexico.

11:50 p.m. — Detectives with the APD Homicide Cold/Case Missing Persons Unit called in at 11:50 p.m. to assist with the investigation.

Wednesday, April 26

Search efforts resume at Lake Amistad to find Officer Martin.

3:34 a.m. — Someone accesses Martin’s email account. The IP address which accessed the account is located in Mexico.

7 a.m. — Cold Case/Missing Persons Unit investigative team is called in and give an internal briefing on the case. Shortly after, law enforcement at Lake Amistad National Recreation Area say they’ve found Martin’s truck near the lake with a suicide note left in plain view.

A massive search begins for Officer Martin, using local, state and federal resources to scour the lake and land around it. An inflatable raft with concrete blocks and scrape marks on it is found on the shore a few miles from the officer’s truck. The officer’s and his wife’s initials are written on the side of the raft, as well as his birthday and “date of death:” 4/25/17. Investigators find a cross drawn in the mud.

5 p.m. — Austin police release to the public that an APD officer in emotional distress is missing, and that his truck has been located at Lake Amistad in Val Verde County.

Thursday, April 27

4:15 p.m. — Detectives learn Martin had a “close relationship with a female” who was not his wife. She tells police that Martin emailed her, saying that his attempt to stage his death and flee to Mexico was successful.

Martin told the woman he rode a bicycle for about eight miles from the lake to a convenience store where he called a taxi to take him to the border crossing.

Friday, April 28

9 p.m. — Austin police say officially that the officer is believed to have staged his death and fled to Mexico. An arrest warrant is issued for Martin and a criminal charge of false report is filed against him.

In an internal email to APD staff from Interim Police Chief Brian Manley, the chief writes that Martin’s actions were an “elaborate ruse.” Chief Manley refers to the female Martin has a close relationship with as the officer’s “friend,” and asks the department to pray for Martin’s safe return.

Saturday, April 29

10 p.m. — In an interview with KXAN’s Lauren Lanmon, Austin Police Association President Ken Casaday says they are apologizing to half a dozen agencies for wasting resources on a false report.

Casaday said the mood within the department went from sadness to anger. “He was trying to scam the system. His friends on the department and all of the officers are very disappointed with his actions.”

“People make mistakes and people have to answer to their mistakes. The association believes that Cole will have to answer to what he’s done,” Casaday said.

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