City police expect to learn today from a Spokane pathologist whether the sudden death of an 89-year-old woman was from natural causes or murder.
A relative of Dorothy Martin found her body Sunday afternoon in her Military Hill condominium and police later realized the key to her apartment had been taken in a break-in of the manager’s office next door.
But while police are investigating her death as a homicide, they were reluctant to reach any conclusions before an autopsy is performed this morning.
Pullman Sgt. Sam Sorem declined to say what made police suspicious about Martin’s death but said that, as sudden deaths go, “this one just sort of had some alarm bells ringing.”
Of added intrigue is the mysterious disappearance of an unrelated elderly woman also named Martin two months ago in Princeton, Idaho, about 25 miles away.
The coincidence has Pullman investigators trading notes with detectives in neighboring Latah County, Idaho.
“We are talking to each other to find out what the circumstances are with their case,” said Latah County Cpl. Tom Polek, who has been working full-time on the disappearance of 74-year-old Hazel Martin since late May.
“I would hope it’s coincidental,” he said.
Dorothy Martin lived in Pullman for about 22 years, coming from her hometown of Butte, Mont., by way of Moscow, Idaho, said Vicki Martin, her daughter-in-law. Her husband came to Moscow 36 years ago to run a Goodyear tire store, Vicki Martin said.
The elder Martin was active and in “fairly good health for 89-1/2,” she said. “She was still driving her car, still getting out and about.”
Martin lived in a ground-level apartment in the Stateside Condominiums, a 52-unit complex at 1220 SW State St. Sometime over the weekend - police aren’t saying when - the office of the condominium manager was broken into and keys to several apartments, including Martin’s, were taken.
Martin’s death had several of the complex’s residents rattled Monday.
“It was rather surprising,” said Julie Hermanson, who had a friend accompany her home from work Monday afternoon. “You don’t expect it. It happens more in Spokane than here.”
Locks to all apartments for which keys were missing were changed Sunday, police said.
Pullman police and investigators from the Washington Patrol Crime Scene Response Team spent most of Monday collecting possible evidence like broken glass and fingerprints around the apartments.