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Murder victim's sister: No answers about brother's senseless beating death

Casey Grove
Ferdinand “Jojo” Marquez was beaten to death in Anchorage in an apparently random, unprovoked attack in September. Four men stand charged with his murder. Courtesy Maryann Creighton

Ever since he was found beaten to death outdoors in an apparently unprovoked, random attack, Ferdinand “Jojo” Marquez’s sister has wanted people in Anchorage to know the truth about her brother, who she says worked in Alaska fish canneries.

“He’s just a traveling man who wasn’t afraid of being adventurous,” Maryann Creighton said. “I don’t want people to think he’s homeless. You can’t judge a person by what you see.”

It is still unclear to Creighton why Marquez, 50, might have been on the streets that night, Sept. 24. He worked hard, scrimped and saved to send as much money home to his Filipino family as possible, Creighton said. Police told her he was trying to get a bed at a rescue mission.

“I really don’t know the whole story of why he was outside,” Creighton said.

Charged and jailed in the murder in Midtown, less than a mile from police headquarters, are David Walent, 24; Jerrick Blankenship, 18; Matt Martin, 22; and Lewis Martin, 33.

According to the charges against the four men, this is what police say happened:

It was early the morning of Sept. 25 when an employee at Alaska Community Mental Health Services called 911 to say there was a man outside the building’s front door bleeding badly from his head. Marquez did not appear to be breathing, and after medics rushed him to a hospital, he was pronounced dead.

Detectives found surveillance video from a nearby building that showed the attack. In the video, four white men approach Marquez about midnight, hit him with a road sign and punch and kick him. The men rifle through Marquez’s backpack and take some things.

While walking through the neighborhood and talking to people, the detectives met a liquor store clerk who said a man she knew as “Dave” had come into her store several times the night before. A little after midnight, the man named Dave -- later identified as Walent -- came in with blood on his clothes and it looked like two fingers on his right hand were broken, the clerk said. She knew him as an employee at the McDonald’s restaurant across the street.

According to the clerk’s account in the charges, Walent told her, "Some guy messed with him and his friends,” so they beat the guy up.

“Dave grabbed a bottle of vodka and threw money down on the counter to pay for the liquor, saying something to the effect of, 'All I got was 10 dollars,'” the charges say.

The detectives went across the street to McDonald’s and the manager told them they were looking for Walent and that he lived with the Martins on Laurel Street. Matt Martin, with blood still on his shirt, stepped out of the building as police arrived about noon. About two hours later, patrol officers posted at the building saw Walent running out the back, and a detective nabbed him. Walent’s hands had cuts on them and the knuckles on his right hand were “extremely” swollen, the charges say.

Detectives took the Martins’ mother, Brenda Martin, and everyone else in the apartment to police headquarters for interviews. Brenda said Walent had come by that morning with some things he said he found near McDonald’s. This included Marquez’s credit cards and a backpack with a green flashlight inside, she told police.

Another witness identified Lewis Martin, Blankenship and Walent in photos from the surveillance video.

In his interview with police, Walent said he’d been in Alaska since June, when he left California to “start life over.” Walent said he was an alcoholic and had been drunk the night before when, he admitted, he threw a barricade at Marquez and hit Marquez with a sign.

“There is no getting out of this one?” Walent allegedly asked the detectives.

The other three also admitted to beating Marquez, the charges said.

What remains a mystery is what motive they had, or if there even was one. Despite her faith in the police work, Creighton does not think she will ever get an answer as to why someone would attack her brother, who was always smiling, she said.

“He was minding his own business, sleeping. I guess he didn’t have time to react,” Creighton said. “I don’t understand that. I will never get the answer. I’ve already come to that point where I know I’ll never get the answer of why it happened.”

Creighton came to Alaska from California with the help of local Filipino group Alaskero Partnership Organizers, who have set up a fund to help his family. With members of the group by her side, Creighton viewed Marquez’s body Friday, even allowing a measure of closure to Marquez’s other sister and one of his two sons, who saw him one last time via Skype.

“My family and I want to make sure justice is served on this,” Creighton said. “Because nobody deserves this. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you’re from, what your ethnicity is. Not even an animal deserved what my brother got from these four men.”

Prayer service and fund

The Filipino Religious Traditions Group will hold prayer service for the Marquez family at St. Benedict's Catholic Church, 8110 Jewel Lake Road, after Mass at 12:15 p.m. Sunday. To help with the family's expenses related to Marquez's death, anyone interested can make checks out to the Ferdinand Marquez Fund and deposit them at any Wells Fargo branch.

Contact Casey Grove at casey(at)alaskadispatch.com. Follow him on Twitter @kcgrove