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Cold case still under investigation

Jan. 24 marks anniversary of death of 9-year-old Martinez boy

Sergeant Dave Mathers (above), a detective with Martinez Police Department, continues the search for suspects in the nearly 30-year-old murder of 9-year-old Martinez boy, Eric Coy. Coy was found brutally stabbed near Martinez Junior High School on Jan. 24, 1987. (DAVID SCHOLZ / Martinez Tribune)
Sergeant Dave Mathers (above), a detective with Martinez Police Department, continues the search for suspects in the nearly 30-year-old murder of 9-year-old Martinez boy, Eric Coy. Coy was found brutally stabbed near Martinez Junior High School on Jan. 24, 1987. (DAVID SCHOLZ / Martinez Tribune)

By DAVID SCHOLZ
Martinez Tribune

MARTINEZ, Calif. – The wet, sloppy conditions descending on the area in recent days are an eerie reminder of the brutal murder of a child nearly 30 years ago, that left a dark cloud over Martinez.

Nine-year-old Eric Coy, murdered near Martinez Junior High School on Jan. 24, 1987. (COURTESY / On File)
Nine-year-old Eric Coy, murdered near Martinez Junior High School on Jan. 24, 1987. (COURTESY / On File)
This weekend represents the somber anniversary of the savage murder of Eric Coy, 9, who was found by other youths with 11 stab wounds caused by a sharp object or knife 6-7 inches long to the upper torso, including one to his neck, near the footbridge at the west end of the Martinez Junior High School property about 11 a.m. on Jan. 24, 1987.

While the years have passed, Det. Sergeant Dave Mathers noted promising information has him hopeful that this case could potentially be solved.

“This is a festering wound,’’ said Mathers, who is determined to bring closure to this cold case.

The late morning of the murder occurred around the time when the boy was going to a friend’s house. Mathers noted Coy was traveling along “a logical route’’ by the river behind the school that is known to every kid in town.

An artist’s sketch of a possible suspect in the case was released by Martinez Police within a few days of the murder. The suspect was described as a 5-8, 165 pound male, possibly age 18-21, of Latin or Italian descent with a light complexion, that reportedly bore a few acne scars or pock marks on each cheek.

This person, said to have been seen near the scene of the homicide, was also described as having a muscular build with black combed medium-length hair and dark eyes. His eyes were described as very piercing in appearance. This person of interest was also reportedly wearing faded Levi pants, a Levi jacket, and light colored tennis shoes, and carrying a short collapsible-type umbrella.

Mathers acknowledged this person may not have committed the murder as much as was someone who just happened to be in the area at the time and possibly witnessed who committed the crime.

A compact type pick-up truck, red in color, possibly a Datsun or Toyota, was also reportedly seen in the area.

The initial investigation also noted the suspect had been lying in wait prior to contact with the victim in this unprovoked attack.

Mathers acknowledged in the days leading up to the attack investigators learned there was a disagreement between the Coy family and a neighbor. But, to date, no additional information has been developed to refute or prove this theory any further.

Mathers grieves for Coy’s parents and is determined “to keep the torch lit’’ for those who would carry on the investigation down the road until it is closed. He has carried that torch for Eric going on three years and is nowhere ready to hand it off.

“If I give up, no one will be there to pick it up,’’ continued Mathers. “If it happens that I may not be able to close this case, his parents will at least know that I made my best effort and I took my best shot.’’

“As a father myself, that is the way I would want it to be handled,’’ he added.

Not one single piece of evidence but a synergy of different items is how investigators believe this case will lead to a successful ending. Mathers noted that might be finding the person already incarcerated or the responsible party even deceased.

For the moment, biological evidence exists that Mathers feels is worthy of a second and even third look and that is an angle he is pursuing.

If this case is solved, he sees it resulting from a combination of “old school shoe leather’’ police work and applying the latest technology to the evidence at hand.

Mathers hopes that partnership with the community – lending that “human touch’’ – may also still generate information for a break in the case that could aid investigators in bringing long overdue closure that everyone is seeking.

Anyone with any information about the Coy murder or surrounding circumstances is encouraged to contact Mathers at (925) 372-3450 or dmathers@cityofmartinez.org. Those wishing to remain anonymous may call the anonymous tipline at (925) 372-3457.

Two drawings of a suspect wanted in connection with the 1987 murder of 9-year-old Martinez boy, Eric Coy. The suspect was described in 1987 as a male, 18-21 years of age, of Latin or Italian descent, with a light complexion. The suspect is also described as being 5-foot-8, approximately 165 pounds, dark eyes, with a muscular build and black, combed-back, medium-length hair. He was purportedly wearing faded Levi pants, a Levi jacket and light-colored tennis shoes. He was last seen carrying a collapsible-type “short” umbrella. The 1987 police report states there’s reason to believe the suspect had been “lying in wait” prior to contact with the victim. The report also states there was no determination of possible motive and the attack appeared to be “totally unprovoked.” (COURTESY / On File)
Two drawings of a suspect wanted in connection with the 1987 murder of 9-year-old Martinez boy, Eric Coy. The suspect was described in 1987 as a male, 18-21 years of age, of Latin or Italian descent, with a light complexion. The suspect is also described as being 5-foot-8, approximately 165 pounds, dark eyes, with a muscular build and black, combed-back, medium-length hair. He was purportedly wearing faded Levi pants, a Levi jacket and light-colored tennis shoes. He was last seen carrying a collapsible-type “short” umbrella. The 1987 police report states there’s reason to believe the suspect had been “lying in wait” prior to contact with the victim. The report also states there was no determination of possible motive and the attack appeared to be “totally unprovoked.” (COURTESY / On File)

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