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Pastor Jose Figueroa Admits To 1998 Bathtub Execution of Alex Martinez

By Denise Grollmus in cold cases, homicide
Friday, November 20, 2009 at 9:00 am
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Jose Figueroa has admitted to a 1998 murder. Police think it's because he found God.
It was 1998 when 17-year-old Alex Martinez got into the bathtub of his Buffalo, New York apartment. As he relaxed in the suds, his girlfriend and their 4-month old boy sat playing in the living room. Just another quiet Thursday evening, or so they thought.

That's when two masked men broke down the front door. They didn't say a word as they marched into the bathroom. One of the men pulled out his gun and shot Martinez through the head, execution-style. Then they simply walked out the front door, leaving behind a new widow, a dead teenager, and yet another fatherless infant... 

When police arrived at the scene, it was clear by the manner of the killing that Martinez had been targeted. They assumed the motive was drug-related. Still, Martinez's killers were never found.

Now Martinez's son is 12-years-old. For over a decade, he's lived knowing that two men in masks stomped into his parent's apartment and shot his dad. But it wasn't until last week that he knew who those men were.

On November 10, Jose Figueroa arrived at the Buffalo Police Department for questioning. He'd been called in by homicide officers who got a tip that he may have had something to do with the 1998 shooting. When he arrived, police were stunned to find a pastor in their midst. 

It only took minutes before the 31-year-old Figueroa admitted to shooting Martinez. He claimed that since then, he'd found God, cleaned up his act, and had become a Christian pastor. The authorities seemed oddly impressed. "I believe his strong faith and conscience led to his willingness to confess," Detective Brian Ross told the United Press International.

But other folks aren't so inspired by Figueroa's decade-late admission or his latent surrender to Christ. After all, he did kill a man -- strike that -- a teenager in cold blood. Execution-style. In front of his girlfriend and baby son. "I sincerely hope that this 'pastor' receives the justice he deserves," wrote one reader at WVIB Channel 4's website. "I wonder if God told him to wait so long before making things right and admitting to the incident."

A pundit at the Buffalo News posed the very important question: "What does his being a pastor have to do with a crime he committed years ago?"

And yet another reader made the savvy observation that: "He confessed because he was caught." 

Three days after his admission of guilt, Figueroa was charged with second-degree murder and is now being held in custody. While police initially said the shooting was a drug-related incident, they now refuse to confirm that fact, claiming that the case is still under investigation. 


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