A Michigan man who was initially believed to have made a desperate attempt to cover up a hit-and-run is now being charged with murder.

Colby Martin, a 29-year-old, was originally charged with hit-and-run manslaughter and attempting to conceal a body. But after leading police to the body of 64-year-old Melody Rohrer, a retired nurse and grandmother who was reported missing by her husband after failing to return from her daily walk, other concerns became apparent.

The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office believed that Martin had struck Rohrer during her walk and tried to hide her body to avoid responsibility for the accident. Police were able to track her cellphone to a Walmart parking lot about 30 miles away, where they discovered Martin’s 2013 Ford F-150 with severe front-end damage.

This story first appeared on LittleThings in February 2022.

Police questioned Martin, and the next day, he led them to Rohrer’s body at the Three Rivers State Game Area. It was about 26 miles from where he had struck her as she walked outside the Oak Shores Campground. He made several attempts to cover up evidence of his crime.

By the end of September 2021, Martin was charged that month with manslaughter with a motor vehicle, failure to stop at the scene of an accident resulting in death when at fault, and concealing the death of an individual. He ended up being released on a $300,000 bond.

In February 2022, Martin would be arrested again. This time, he was arrested for murder after prosecutors say that he deliberately ran Rohrer over. They determined that Martin hit and killed the woman because he wanted to have sex with her dead body.

Detectives learned of the motive while checking out Martin’s internet search history, which revealed searches for pornography featuring dead or unconscious bodies. He searched for these images just as Rohrer’s family reported her missing. Used condoms found in the garbage outside Martin’s home during the investigation revealed both his and Rohrer’s DNA.

Martin was not given the option of bail during this arrest.

“That is a very different set of facts,” said Van Buren County District Court Judge Michael McKay.

“I think he represents the most extreme danger to the public. Chilling doesn’t begin to describe it.”

 

Martin’s attorney says these escalated charges are baseless.

“We’re still waiting for reports and more evidence from the prosecutor’s office,” he said.

“From a legal standpoint, I’m not seeing the increase in charges will be justified.”

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