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Baby was home during Detroit cops’ murder-suicide

Detroit police Officer Maria Martin on a GoFundMe page created by her sister. (GoFundMe screenshot/TNS)

A 1-year-old boy was home last week when his father allegedly fatally shot his mother before turning the gun on himself, according to a police report from the Livonia officer who found the lifeless bodies and the crying child inside their townhouse.

The report, which was obtained by The Detroit News via a public records request, details the crime scene on the 16000 block of Farmington Road in Livonia, where officers on Feb. 19 discovered the wailing boy wandering around the master bedroom in a dirty diaper while the bodies of his parents, Matthew Ethington and Maria Martin, lay in the living room near two handguns and multiple spent shell casings.

Ethington and Martin were both off-duty Detroit police officers who, according to Detroit police Chief James White, appeared to have been embroiled in a domestic dispute prior to the shooting.

“A very tragic and sad course of events,” White said during a news conference outside the couple’s residence a few hours after Livonia police found the bodies on Feb. 19. “It appears to be domestic. It looks like preliminarily murder-suicide, and that’s where we are right now.”

Livonia police did not return a phone call Monday.

Both Ethington and Martin had been with the Detroit Police Department for less than five years, police officials said. As a cadet, Ethington was photographed by The Detroit News in June 2019 goofing around with an 8-year-old boy while patrolling that year’s Ford Fireworks show in Hart Plaza. Ethington and the boy were having a contest to see who could hold up their arms the longest.

The seven-page Livonia police report provides a more gruesome picture into the aftermath of Ethington’s domestic rampage.

Livonia police Officer William Doster had just responded to a false alarm run at about 12:17 p.m., “when I noticed that a gold minivan began following me and honking its horn,” he wrote in his report. “I pulled into Rotary Park and stopped my patrol vehicle to check with the driver.”

The woman identified herself as Martin’s mother, Doster wrote.

“(She) stated that both Maria and Matthew were officers with Detroit PD,” Doster wrote. “(She) informed me that she had last spoke to her daughter on the phone at approximately (6:30-7 a.m.) this morning and that she could hear Maria and Matthew arguing before the phone call abruptly ended.”

The woman told Doster that her daughter hadn’t answered her phone after that, and that while she was babysitting her eldest grandson, the couple had a 1-year old child who was thought to be inside their townhouse.

The woman provided police with a garage door opener, which allowed them into the townhouse, the report said.

“The pedestrian door into the residence from the garage was closed but unlocked,” the report said. “A small flight of stairs curved up and around into the living room, where officers immediately saw the deceased body of Matthew at the top of the stairs in the room’s southeast corner. Matthew appeared to have a fatal gunshot wound to the head.”

The police report indicates Maria was also located, deceased, in the living room’s northwest corner next to a couch. A black handgun, meanwhile, was observed at Matthew’s feet and multiple shell casings were discovered throughout the living room. A second holstered black handgun was observed near the front door.

“I could hear the crying coming from one of the bedrooms up the next half-flight of stairs,” Doster wrote. “(A sergeant) and I located the child … in what appeared to be the master bedroom. (He) appeared to be uninjured and was walking around near the foot of the bed in a heavily soiled diaper. I picked (him) up while the other officers on scene finished clearing the residence. I then carried (the baby) out of the residence and turned him over to (his grandmother).”

Crime scene technicians were in the house for almost six hours, according to the police report. The bodies of Martin and Ethington were conveyed to the Wayne County medical examiner’s office.

A GoFundMe created by Maria’s sister, Aujanea Martin, had raised $4,000 as of Monday afternoon.


(c) 2023 The Detroit News

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