John Martini Sr. (1 Viewer)


John Martini Sr.

Classification: Serial killer
Characteristics: Robberies - Kidnapping
Number of victims: 6
Date of murders: 1977 - 1989
Date of arrest: January 1989
Date of birth: July 30, 1930
Victims profile: His aunt and her husband / Anna Mary "Paulie" Duvall / Teresa Marie Dempster, 27, and David Richard Uhl, 42 / Irving Flax
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: New Jersey/Arizona/Pennsylvania, USA
Status: Sentenced to death in New Jersey on December 12, 1990. Convicted of three other murders in Arizona and Pennsylvania

Newark: Court Upholds Death Sentence

July 26, 2006

In what is considered the final appeal available to a man convicted of kidnapping and murdering a Fair Lawn businessman 17 years ago, the State Supreme Court upheld his death sentence yesterday in a 6-to-1 ruling. But a state moratorium on the death penalty was imposed in January.

The convict, John Martini Sr., 75, killed the businessman, Irving Flax, in 1989 even though Mr. Flax’s wife paid $25,000 of the $100,000 ransom. Mr. Martini was later convicted of three other murders.

John Martini was sentenced to die for the 1989 kidnap and murder of businessman Irving Flax of Fair Lawn, and since 1995 he has asked the courts to permit him to stop his appeals and bring on his execution date because he found prison existence intolerable.

However, with less than 6 weeks to go before his appointment with the death chamber, Martini changed his mind and decided he does not want to die, resuming his appeals.

Since his death sentence, Martini has been convicted of 3 other murders in Arizona and Philadelphia.

In January of 1987, Martini allegedly killed his aunt and her husband at their home in Atlantic City, although these are crimes for which he was never brought to trial.

He subsequently divorced his wife, Alice, and leaves his home in Glendale, Ariz., where he worked in a bar, to return to the Bronx, his birthplace.

In November of 1988, Martini killed Teresa Marie Dempster, 27, a suspected drug supplier, and salesman David Richard Uhl, 42, near Glendale.

In January of 1989, Martini abducted warehouse executive Irving Flax in Fair Lawn, evidently an acquaintance from years past, then collected $25,000 in ransom from his wife, Marilyn, at a Paramus diner.

The following day Flax was found dead in a car in a mall parking lot, shot 3 times in the head. Martini and a girlfriend inexplicably remained in the immediate area, where 2 days later they were recognized and arrested by Fort Lee police at a local motel.

In November of 1990, Martini was tried for this murder. He did not deny the crime but blamed drug addiction. Alice came from Arizona to testify. He was convicted and sentenced to death in Dec. 1990.

In April of 1991 a jury convicted girlfriend Therese Afdahl of felony murder and other charges in Flax's death but not of the maximum murder charge. Part of her defense was the claim Martini had beaten her and intimidated her. She was sentenced to 50 years.

In August of 1992, Martini pled guilty in Arizona to the Dempster-Uhl murders in a deal to spare him the death penalty. He got 50 years.

In 1994, Martini was moved to 114-year-old Holmesburg prison in Philadelphia to stand trial for a 4th murder charge. It is there he decided death was preferable to life behind bars.

In October of 1995, he told Superior Court Judge Bruce Gaeta, who handled his trial, that he wants to die and wants all appeals stopped. A psychiatrist subsequently testified Martini was competent to understand the choice he made.

In Nov. of 1997, Martini was convicted in Philadelphia of the execution-style murder of Anna Mary "Paulie" Duvall, with whom he had business dealings, in 1977 near the airport.

John Martini

On Monday morning, January 23, 1989, Marilyn Flax kissed her husband Irving goodbye as he left for his job as supervisor in a warehouse in Secaucus. She never saw him again. Instead, she received a telephone call from a man who called himself “Tony”, who told her that he had kidnapped her husband and was holding him for ransom. Despite threats to her life and her family’s lives by the man on the phone if she called the police, Mrs. Flax contacted authorities. The FBI advised her to comply with the ransom demand, and formulated a plan to follow the kidnapper after he picked up the money.

That evening, Mrs. Flax delivered the ransom at the Forum Diner in Paramus, but the kidnapper managed to elude the pursuit by the FBI. Although “Tony” had promised to release her husband if she complied with his demands, Mrs. Flax waited in vain all that night.

The next morning, Irving Flax was found, sitting in his car, at the Garden State Plaza in Paramus. He had been slain, execution style, with three bullets to the back of his head. Law enforcement authorities manage to link the actions of the kidnapper to a wanted fugitive from Arizona named John Martini. Martini and his girlfriend, Theresa Afdahl, were on the run from two murders they committed three months earlier in Arizona, and had been living in New Jersey under assumed identities.

On Wednesday night, January 25, 1989, Martini and Afdahl were arrested when they attempted to leave a motel in Fort Lee, in possession of the ransom money and a gun. Martini was charged with capital murder here in New Jersey and in Arizona.

While awaiting trial, Martini threatened his lawyer and Afdahl’s lawyer, causing the appointment of new counsel by the court. He also planned two separate escape attempts from the Bergen County jail, and nearly succeeded in the second attempt when he bribed a guard to smuggle in diamond wire so that he could cut the bars in the jail’s law library. Martini was subsequently moved to state prison pending his capital trial.

Eventually, Martini was tried in Bergen County, convicted and given the death penalty by a jury. While on death row, he was flown to Arizona where he pled guilty to the shooting deaths of Theresa Dempster and David Uhl. He was later brought to Philadelphia where he was tried and found guilty of the murder of Anna “Polly” Duval, a killing he committed back in 1978.

Friday, August 27, 1999

John Martini, the convicted murderer who declined until recently to file an appeal that would postpone his execution, was a longtime Government informer, a newspaper reported today.

The jurors who imposed the death sentence on Mr. Martini were never told that he had worked with the F.B.I. for two decades, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

In New Jersey, a jury in a capital case first decides on guilt or innocence and then decides in a separate proceeding whether to impose the death penalty. Among the factors the jury can consider in deciding whether to impose the death penalty is the defendant's character, and cooperation with law enforcement officials can be cited as a mitigating factor warranting a less severe sentence than death.

Government records show that Mr. Martini, a truck driver, gave Federal investigators information on mob-related thefts in the trucking industry in northern New Jersey. The F.B.I. dropped him as an informer in 1986 after he made what the agency believed was a false claim about a money-laundering scheme.

In 1990, Mr. Martini was convicted of killing a warehouse manager, Irving Flax, in 1989.

Mr. Martini's role as a Government informer began in the mid-1960's after he was convicted of stealing a load of women's underwear in Hudson County, The Inquirer reported.

The newspaper, citing information from F.B.I. reports, said Mr. Martini provided agents with information about mob-related truck thefts and hijackings and the location of contraband in New Jersey and New York.

It is unclear how valuable Mr. Martini's tips were and whether the authorities compensated him by not prosecuting him for crimes he was suspected of committing during that period.

Investigators questioned Mr. Martini about his involvement in the slayings of four of his relatives between 1981 and 1987. He was never charged, and those killings remain unsolved.

The New Jersey Office of the Public Defender, which is representing Mr. Martini in his appeal, said it would not comment on the newspaper report.

Mr. Martini's decision to appeal was a recent one. Throughout the 1990's, he said that prison life disgusted him and that he wanted to be executed.

After the mandatory state appeals process was completed and Mr. Martini's conviction upheld this summer, the New Jersey Department of Corrections scheduled his execution for Sept. 22.

But two weeks ago, a nun visiting Mr. Martini at the New Jersey State Prison in Trenton persuaded him to allow lawyers to file further appeals in Federal court. On Wednesday, the Department of Corrections canceled the death warrant pending the outcome of the Federal appeals.

Execution Date Canceled For Convicted Killer

Thursday, August 26, 1999

The State Supreme Court yesterday issued an order to formally cancel the Sept. 22 execution for a convicted killer who, until two weeks ago, had maintained that he wanted to die.

After speaking to a prison chaplain, the killer, John Martini, changed his mind about being willing to die and decided to have the Public Defender's office file a Federal appeal. Previously, Mr. Martini in effect had been volunteering to be the first man to be executed in New Jersey in 36 years.

The State Supreme Court on July 27 denied Mr. Martini's third and final state appeal. He then said he wanted no more appeals filed and a death warrant was issued.

Mr. Martini, 69, who is in poor health, has been trying for four years to end his appeals, calling prison life intolerable. It took him about two weeks to change his mind. One of his lawyers, Alan Zegas, said Mr. Martini, a four-time convicted killer, had a change of heart after a meeting with the prison's Catholic chaplain, Sister Elizabeth Gnam, who opposes capital punishment.

Mr. Martini was sentenced to die in 1990 for the kidnap murder of a Fair Lawn warehouse manager. He has since been convicted of three other murders in Arizona and Pennsylvania.

John Martini Sr.


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