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Snowden and Susan Matthews moved to a quiet Brighton street to escape the hassles of urban life. They wanted to leave the traffic, noise and crime of Denver behind. It was a plan that worked well for …
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Snowden and Susan Matthews moved to a quiet Brighton street to escape the hassles of urban life. They wanted to leave the traffic, noise and crime of Denver behind. It was a plan that worked well for the couple until the brutal killing of a pregnant roommate shattered their suburban peace, pulling the Mathews and their home into the ugliness has of what has now been labeled a homicide.
Snowden and Susan, sitting in the living room of their 12th Avenue home Friday evening, struggled to come to terms with the events of the previous several days. Within the span of the week, their friend and roommate, Tanya Ealey, had disappeared without a trace and became the focus of a police search that resulted in the discovery of Ealey’s body under the bed in a basement bedroom of the Mathews’ home, a basement she shared with Nicky Allen Martinez, her boyfriend and the man arrested in connection
with her murder.
Snowden Mathews recounted a long friendship with Martinez, going back nearly a decade.
“Nick started out at Denver Marble as a helper when I was an apprentice,” Snowden Mathews said. “He eventually became my apprentice when I became a journeyman. I’ve known him probably 10 years. I never thought he’d be capable of something like this. I’ve worked side-by-side with him; he’s been a friend forever. Seems like a nice guy. Polite guy, everyone liked him, he’s a real likeable guy.”
So likeable that Snowden Mathews felt lucky to get Martinez as a roommate, someone he knew well and someone he felt he could trust.
“He rented my basement from about two months prior,” Mathews said. “He was in motel rooms before that. He’d gotten a job roughnecking in the oil fields, Tanya was pregnant, and he was looking forward to being a father.”
The memory of the 12-week pregnant Ealey gave Mathews pause, a moment to reflect on the mother not-to-be.
“Just last week she had shown me a sonogram of the baby,” Mathews said.
o o o
Always willing to help the pair, the Mathews loaned Martinez their car early last week, a favor that came back to haunt them.
“On Tuesday afternoon (Nov. 18) he came and borrowed my car for about an hour,” Susan Mathews said. “He came back, picked me up and brought me home. He was downstairs for about an hour, then he came back up and said he needed the car again. He was gone from Tuesday until we found him Wednesday at 10:30.”
“He never returned the car,” Snowden Mathews said. “That evening, I called up Total Car Care up the street. I had Marty ping the GPS on it. He (Martinez) was at 44th and Kipling. That’s where his girlfriend worked, and that’s where he said he was going, so I figured he was just staying down on that end of town for the night.”
When Martinez failed to show the next day, the Mathews’ grew suspicious. When the police contacted them regarding Ealey’s disappearance, Snowden again asked Total Car Care to locate the car. The GPS ping found it stopped at the TA Truck Stop near I-270 and Quebec Street in Denver.
“He was in it,” Snowden said. “I knocked on the window, told him, ‘Hey, I need my car back, gimme my keys.’ I was pretty upset with him for just taking my car. There was puke and everything on it. You could tell he was just out of it, like he was on something or something. I got pretty upset with him at that point, told him he was no longer welcome in my house.”
Mathews drove off, leaving Martinez standing in the parking lot, about 11 a.m.
Unbeknownst to Matthews, the search for Ealey was about to take a disturbing turn.
“We didn’t have a clue,” Mathews said. “We thought Tanya had just left for a few days. She’d done it before.”
Those thoughts changed with a look in Ealey’s room.
“I found her wallet on Wednesday night,” Susan Mathews said. “ I was sitting on the bed, on top of her. I didn’t even know she was under there.”
Snowden seconded his wife’s concern for Ealey’s safety in light of the discovery.
“Susan found her I.D. and her purse and everything, and then she told me, ‘I think we really got an issue here, because no woman is going to leave all that stuff behind, they are not gonna leave their credit cards behind, their wallet, their whole life,’” Snowden Mathews said, adding, “A woman’s whole life is in her purse.’”
The Mathews called Brighton police.
“They were here from 8 til midnight. I think at that time they were just trying to get information on Nick. They were in the room for four hours, and nobody looked under the bed.”
According to the Mathews, the police confiscated a bloody pillow, Ealey’s wallet and purse, and other items for possible evidentiary purposes. They also photographed the scene before leaving for the night.
The following evening, Thursday, Susan Mathews received another visit from the police, this time at her place of employment.
“He told me the bad news about my car. There was stuff out of my car and it would be impounded for quite a while,” she said. “I told him, ‘Please go check my house, I think she is in my house.’ I’ve thought this, I’ve told everybody.”
The police returned with permission from the couple to search the home again. What they found shocked Snowden. Ealey, missing since Monday, was found under the bed she shared with Martinez, hidden by sheets tucked under the sides.
“I was just upstairs and I heard him say, ‘She’s dead,’ and that he smelled something when he walked into the room, which I guess nobody picked up because it was so early before. I never saw anything after that,” he said.
Snowden said he left the house almost immediately, choosing to spend the night at a friend’s while the police removed the body.
A walk through of the basement apartment that Ealey and Martinez shared is snapshot frozen in time and a glimpse into their life together. The back bedroom contains the majority of Ealey’s worldly possessions; furniture, personal effects, some clothing. The other bedroom, the one where Ealey‘s body was discovered, is a disorganized jumble of mixed clothing items, shoes and accessories. A hazy and fingerprinted mirror dominates one wall, a skull sticker placed top center. The tan carpet is littered with discarded socks, trash and a pair of large bloodstains, the latter the only indication that this was a crime scene and not a teen’s bedroom.
Adams County Coroner Jim Hibbard said late Friday afternoon Ealey died from blunt force trauma to the neck.
Snowden is still baffled by Martinez’ behavior at their last meeting outside the car in Denver.
“In retrospect, I’m looking back now, thinking, you know, this guy is talking to me like nothing is going on, and his girlfriend is dead and underneath the bed,” Mathews said, shaking his head in bewilderment.
Susan Mathews is similarly stunned, and visibly uncomfortable with her memory of Martinez.
“I was in the car with him Tuesday, and this happened Monday,” Susan Mathews said, approximating the time of Ealey’s death. “I can’t believe I sat in the car with him.”
Denver Police arrested Martinez Saturday morning near Speer Boulevard and Lincoln Street. He made his first court appearance Monday morning where he was advised prosecutors have filed a second-degree murder charge. He was due back in court at 1:30 p.m., Wednesday.
Contact MetroWest Staff Writer Gene Sears at 303-659-2522 Ext.217, or e-mail email@example.com. Alternately, you can send comments to Gene or join the community conversation on this topic via his blog, fortlupton.blogspot.com.
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