Joseph Simlick arrested for murder in deadly Sutter house fire

11:47 PM, Aug 1, 2010   |    comments
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Video: UPDATE: 21-year-old charged with murder in connection with d

  • Joseph Simlick
  • Susan Lenette Martin
  • Jack Thomas Martin

SLIDESHOW: Garage fire damage

SUTTER, CA - The 21-year-old man arrested in connection with a deadly fire on Mulberry Street in Sutter County has been charged with murder.

According to Sutter County Sheriff Capt. Lewis McElfresh, Joseph Simlick has been charged with the murder of Jack Martin, 46, and his wife Sue Martin, also 46.

Simlick was arrested close to 24 hours after a garage fire broke out on the 2200 block of Mulberry Street on Friday. 

While extinguishing the fire, crews found homeowners Jack and Sue Martin dead inside. Investigators have not said whether the couple were killed before the fire started. There was evidence that Susan Martin was held against her will, according to investigators.

On Saturday, McElfresh said investigators were treating the case as a double homicide and arrested Simlick on separate charges of burglary and false imprisonment. 

McElfresh acknowledged the victims knew Simlick but could not elaborate.

However, family members told News10 Simlick had been dating one of Jack and Sue's daughters and the two were going through a bitter breakup.

"I did not know until today that there was a problem with this boy," said Levelyn Martin, Jack's father.

Levelyn said he was told Simlick was harassing the Martins and their daughter.

"I heard they had some arguments and I think he was here (the night of the fire)," he said.

Other family members said the arrest was no surprise.  A neighbor said Simlick was not getting along with the Martins.

The charges of burglary and false imprisonment may or may not be related to the case. McElfresh could not comment because of the ongoing investigation. 

McElfresh confirmed Monday a 911 call had been placed from the Martins' home about two and a half hours before the fire. He would not elaborate on the substance of the call.

McElfresh said they have evidence to believe the fire was intentionally set.  He said Sue Martin's body was found in the garage, her husband's in the hallway.

By Nick Monacelli, 


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