Police Identify Remains of Murder Victim Found Outside Franklin’s Avalon Subdivision Last Week

DNA testing confirms that the remains found in the brush outside of the Avalon Subdivision last week are Sara Martinez. Sara was murdered in 2009, but her body was never found.

“Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers go out to the Martinez family,” said Franklin Police Chief Deborah Faulkner. “That brush was her grave for more than five years; that never should have been the case. Now her family can give Sara the dignity of a proper burial that honors her memory.”

Previous FPD releases regarding this case:
Initial Release



The Metropolitan Nashville Police Department’s release regarding their case, linked to this discovery in Franklin, is posted below:

DNA testing confirms that human remains discovered in Franklin’s Avalon subdivision last week are those of Nashvillian Sara Martinez, who is believed to have been murdered more than five years ago.

Martinez, 20, was last seen on March 9, 2009, at Nashville’s Club Guadalajara on Old Hickory Boulevard. She was reported missing by a friend six days later.

An investigation led by now retired MNPD homicide detective Hugh Coleman in 2009 led to the development of Jose Morano as Martinez’s suspected killer. The Toyota Corolla Morano was known to drive was recovered abandoned on March 24, 2009, on Allied Drive off Nolensville Pike. There was a significant amount of blood on the front passenger seat, which DNA testing confirmed to be that of Sara Martinez. Morano, a native of Honduras, was last seen at his Nashville apartment complex on March 9, 2009. He never returned for his belongings.

An arrest warrant charging Morano with Martinez’s murder was issued in August 2009. He was arrested on July 11, 2011, in Clinton, North Carolina, for a traffic offense. A check of his fingerprints revealed that he was wanted in Nashville.  Morano, now 32, was subsequently indicted on a charge of second-degree murder. He pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in June 2012 and was deported by the United States government.

Last week’s detailed on-scene investigation and evidence collection by Franklin Police contributed greatly to the ultimate identification of Sara Martinez’s remains.

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