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Police reportedly have 3 suspects in fatal East Side fire

Published: Wed, September 22, 2010 @ 12:09 a.m.


Vivian Martin

By John W. Goodwin Jr.

Staff report


Police have three suspects in the death of a real-estate agent Monday, The Vindicator’s broadcast partner, WFMJ, reported Tuesday night.

Vivian Martin, 67, the owner of Essence Realty, was discovered in a burning home at 3660 Nelson Ave. on the city’s East Side at 2:40 p.m. Martin lived on Ron Lane.

Youngstown police are treating her death as a homicide. They would not release more information Tuesday night.

The Mahoning County Coroner’s office identified Martin on Tuesday.

The coroner’s office said a forensic odontologist made the identification. The coroner did not release a cause of death.

WFMJ also reported that the Portage County sheriff is investigating the murder of Andrew Vonstein, 51, a prominent real-estate agent in Ravenna.

His family reported him missing. Police found his body in a vacant building Tuesday morning.

Martin had a beautiful, smiling face, recalled an official at Youngstown State University.

In an e-mail expressing condolences on Martin’s death, Yulanda McCarty-Harris, director of YSU’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity, wrote, “This is so tragic. Vivian Martin owns Essence Realty, and was our [Realtor] when we moved here. I can still see her smiling face.”

The condolences were on behalf of Donna James of Campbell, Martin’s daughter, who works at YSU and also is marketing specialist for Essence Realty.

Former Youngstown City Councilman Artis Gillam knew Martin since attending school with her at Madison Elementary School.

“She was feisty as a little girl and feisty as a grown-up,” Gillam said.

He said Martin dropped out of high school but went on to earn her undergraduate and master’s degree before starting her own business.

He also said Martin had just finished her final chemotherapy treatment, beating colon cancer for a second time.

“This is just heartbreaking to see someone do what she did coming back from cancer to this freak accident,” Gillam said.

Martin’s late-model Cadillac had been parked outside the house at 3660 Nelson Ave. and is now being held by police for processing.

Police have been unable to find keys for the vehicle and had to call OnStar to open the doors.

Martin was a lifelong Mahoning Valley resident. She had an associate degree from Youngstown State University. She graduated magna cum laude from Wilberforce University with a bachelor’s degree in organizational management and earned her master’s degree in organizational leadership from Geneva College, Beaver Falls, Pa.

Martin also was an active member of the community, involved in community organizations such as the Youngstown Warren Realtist Association, A. Philip Randolph Institute and Buy Into Youngstown. She was a member of Youngstown Columbiana Association of Realtors.

Firefighters were called to the Nelson Avenue house just after 2:30 p.m. Monday and found it engulfed in flames. A bystander told firefighters someone likely was trapped inside the building.

Firefighters found Martin on the kitchen floor.

Early reports from people living in the area said it sounded as if there was an explosion before the fire. Firefighters, however, have determined the gas supply to the house had been shut off, but the electricity was still on.

City arson investigators and investigators from the Ohio Fire Marshal’s office are trying to determine the cause.

The home had been listed for sale with Essence Realty.

Last week, a real-estate agent was kidnapped and robbed in Boardman, but released unharmed.


1Stan(9923 comments)posted 5 years, 7 months ago

Those who were responsible for this woman's death should get nothing less than death themselves . We must send out the message that society will not tolerate murder . Let's not plea bargain this case when the killers are arrested .

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2Stormieangel(136 comments)posted 5 years, 7 months ago

Stan, that just does not seem to be the way the system works...death. And even if it is death, they sit on death row for years on end while the taxpayers support their sorry rear ends. I realize that everyone should have the right to appeals IF there is any definite information that might help them. Sadly, we probably do put innocent people in prison. But fact is we have a LEGAL system and not a JUSTICE system. We are tougher on someone who willingly takes drugs than we are on someone who willingly takes a life or so it often seems. It is sad this woman, who was seemingly an honest and good part of society is dead, most likely murdered. It is horrible to have a decent life end like that while some scumbag walks the streets to do it again. Perhaps part of the answer is for realtors to get a right to carry a concealed weapon license, exercise their right to protect themselves. Or maybe they need to not meet with a prospective client one on one anymore...if this was even the situation. Let us hope whoever is responsible for this woman's death is apprehended and convicted and put to death also....but don't hold your breath on the death penalty part. Sad indeed.

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3kensgirl(1036 comments)posted 5 years, 7 months ago

Firing squad would benefit these scumbags immensely. Then put their bodies on the news channels with the caption "Next"?

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4Nunya(1356 comments)posted 5 years, 7 months ago

This Hurts and yet peace be still,..

Where in rendering my most sincere condolences to Ms. Martins family and close friends. Where for those whom don't know or who never met this lady. I'll inform you that I had the privilege and this was a truly beautiful being and genuine soul from what I knew of her,.. and she has a smile and laugh that's absolutely angelic.

Whom in just a too few privileged opportunities for me to have had spoken with her years ago. I'll always appreciate and never forget how forthright honest, caring, informative and insightful she was in my encounter. Where in our exchange I was compelled to openly expressing my shock and admiration that she had chosen to remain in Youngstown. Which she expressed appreciation and rendered her views and appreciation expressing her pleasure that I'd chosen to had returned.

Although my initial privilege of speaking with Ms. Martin was years ago when her office was located on a street off Glenwood on the cities south side. I'll never forget that she struck me as so refreshingly impressive, that I spoke to my family and friends about her and one of her associates,.. exceptionally impressive, witty, beautiful and intelligent women.

True genuine and total beauty as a being like she possesses are so rare you never forget them and this is an immense loss. Where to the family I say pride yourself as having such a family member as representation. As well as strengthen your heavy hearts by giving thanks to our creator that you were blessed to have a bonding connection and the time afforded with such an individual.

Where we're all different and special certainly isn't a descriptive term I employ with any frequency as to not devalue the meaning. However, it's not post mortem canonizing or devaluing of the term of special. In not merely utilizing but respectfully recognizing that some beings by soul and spirit are indeed Special,.. Ms. Vivian Martin is such a rare spirit that fits the term of a very, very Special one.

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5nini1218(2 comments)posted 5 years, 7 months ago

That's the problem. These frickin scumbag, trash buttholes don't have anything to worry about. This so called system will protect them unlike the victim. She had no way to protect herself but if she had?? There would prolly be trouble for her. Let's just keep paying for these troubled citizens, Give em tv, 3 square meals a day, recreation. Hell why not??They don't have worry about a toothache or a sore throat, we'll take care of em.

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6nini1218(2 comments)posted 5 years, 7 months ago

To the family of Ms. Martin, I'm so very sorry for your loss and I hope and pray you will see justice. She deserves it.

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7ohdrama0901(53 comments)posted 5 years, 7 months ago

This is terrible and very hard to understand and leaves a lot of people wondering why. It seems like maybe someone planted her in the house to do something to her. Maybe she knew something, someone was very angry with her, a derranged lover, or any of the possible. I just can't see someone just killing a 67 year old woman just because. There's more to the story and in due time will probably surface. I hope her family gets answers and the person or people responsible get exactly what's coming to them.

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8Nunya(1356 comments)posted 5 years, 7 months ago

@ sotired

Not all are turning a blind eye here

See via your candid sentiments it certainly appears you'd met Vivian, and we know she absolutely didn't deserve nor have to be approached in such a depraved manner. Where now although we know with certainty she's now in the loving and protective embrace of our creator.

Yet for Vivian, her family, friends and others to include myself. I'll not cease making contacts, pressing questions and demanding answers. Until there's confirmation of what took place and who specifically had what to do with the demise of her mortality.

This doesn't present itself as any accident and there isn't, nor will there ever be anywhere and I mean NOWHERE for those responsible for this to hide.

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9Cassie(88 comments)posted 5 years, 7 months ago

So sad. I have often thought that a real estate agent can be in danger when showing a home alone. Maybe having the person come to the office where someone else would also meet them and keeping in touch with the office by phone might be safer, with some kind of code word to alert the office that things are not going well. Such a terrible thing--my condolences to the family of this lovely woman.

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10redvert(2225 comments)posted 5 years, 7 months ago

Lots of kind words said here about this lady. Never met her myself but obviously many of you have. Hopefully information from citizens helped the police to identify suspects.

The best tribute to this lady's memory would be for the local community to start identifying the dirt bags that are trying to take over the city of Youngstown. The citizens are more powerful then any police department can be.

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