Search for missing man ends in tragedy

JACKSON TWP. – The daughter of 79-year-old Bernard Martin thought it odd that the morning newspaper was in the driveway when she returned home Sunday evening from a week’s vacation.
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Her father, who hadn’t gone to Florida with her and the rest of the family, liked to start each day reading The Enquirer and drinking a cup of coffee.

Inside the Burdsall Road home that she and her husband, Bob, shared with Martin, Shawn Butts found his bed had been made. His cell phone, which she bought for him and insisted he always carry in case of an emergency, was lying on it.

For two days – as Clermont County Sheriff A.J. “Tim” Rodenberg, 16 deputies, firefighters from three departments, search dogs and a helicopter tried to find the missing Martin – Butts fretted over the retired maintenance man, who had worked for 35 years at the Monsanto plant in Sharonville.

Martin, who was thought to be in good mental and physical health, was last seen Saturday. On Tuesday, he was found dead. The Clermont County coroner determined it was suicide.


Martin liked to garden, and he loved the grandchildren he shared a home with, 6-year-old Delilah and 11-year-old Elijah, Butts said.

“He colored with them,” she said.

Martin liked to buy presents at a Goodwill thrift shop. “Delilah has the most beautiful dresses,” Butts said of her daughter.

A few minutes later, one of four cadaver dogs from Kentucky found Martin’s body in underbrush across Five Mile Creek from the family home.

“I’m very sorry it didn’t have a happier ending,” said the sheriff, who visited with the family just minutes before the body was discovered about 12:45 p.m.

“I’m so proud of your guys,” Butts had told the sheriff. “You’ve gone above and beyond my expectations” in looking for Martin.

The sheriff’s office covered 1½ miles of surrounding area Monday, Chief Deputy Rick Combs said. If somebody goes missing for more than 36 hours, “you fear the worst,” he said.

A native of Grayson, Ky., Martin moved to Cincinnati to find work, Butts said. His wife of 23 years, Elizabeth, died in 1984.

Since retiring, he enjoyed caring for three gardens and two turkeys on the 5-acre property. He had recently put up 100 jars of beans and pickles, Butts said. He also grew broccoli, beets, mustard greens and potatoes.

Butts had talked with her father last week, but she was unable to reach him Sunday.

“He hates Florida,” Butts said of Martin. “That’s why he didn’t go. When we came back from vacation, we expected him to be sitting up there” on the veranda.

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