An Arizona grandmother and food delivery driver used her final moments to help police catch her suspected killer, authorities say.
Pamela Rae Martinez, 60, was able to snap a photo of the man believed to have shot her to death along West Bell Road on Saturday, June 11, shortly after she had completed her last food delivery for the night.
Rusty French, 62, is now facing charges of second-degree murder in Martinez’s death after investigators found the tell-tale photo on the woman’s phone, according to a statement from Glendale Police.
Authorities say French has no known connection to Martinez.
Police were called to an injury accident near 6100 West Bell Road just before 7:30 p.m. on June 11 after a single vehicle had driven off the roadway into a landscaped area.
They arrived to find the woman, later identified as Martinez, inside the vehicle “in distress and non-responsive.” She was later pronounced dead at the scene.
Glendale Police Sgt. Randy Stewart told Oxygen.com that investigators discovered that Martinez had been shot through an open window.
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A witness told police that Martinez had been parked along the road and a van had been parked alongside her. The witness saw a male standing outside of Martinez’s vehicle and then saw the man get back into his van and drive away.
After the man had left, Martinez’s vehicle began to slowly drive off the roadway, police said.
Police discovered that before her death, Martinez had taken a photograph “for some reason” of a man sitting in his van alongside her vehicle.
They were able to identify the man as French.
When they brought him in for questioning and confronted him with the photo, police said he admitted it was him in the photo but said he “must have blacked out” about what happened next.
That same day police executed a search warrant on his home and found handguns, one of which was a ballistics match for the gun used in the shooting, police said.
It’s not clear what prompted the shooting.
“It is believed that the two were unknown to each other,” Stewart said. “As far as why, investigators are still working on that.”
Martinez’s 27-year-old daughter, Monique Daniels, told The Daily Beast she believed her mother had been killed as a result of some sort of road rage incident.
“A stranger ended up taking her life over nothing,” she said.
She said she believed her mother had snapped the photo deliberately as evidence.
“I know she knew what was going to happen,” she said. “And she was not going to let it happen without doing something.”
Daniels said her mother worked for two local colleges but had been doing Uber Eats deliveries to make some extra money.
She had hoped to use the extra cash to pay for Daniels’ baby shower and take her boyfriend out for his birthday. Daniels, who is already a mother to a young son, is eight months pregnant.
On the last day of her life, Daniels said her mother had come home around 5:30 p.m. to drop off drinks for her and her son before she decided to pick up a few food deliveries.
She had called her daughter at 7:11 p.m. to say that she had finished making the deliveries and would be home soon to get a bag because she planned to spend the night with her boyfriend.
“And I never heard from her again,” Daniels said.
She described her mother as a “health nut” who had been body building into her 50s.
The vibrant grandmother also leaves behind another daughter in Colorado and two more grandchildren.
The family is devastated at their loss.
“I’m happy they got him and justice will be served, but it won’t fix anything,” Daniels said. “We don’t have her.”