Q6 Cold Case Files: Princeton grandmother murdered in her own bed

The murder of Hazel Martin has haunted Latah County since 1996. Hazel was in her 70's, had a loving family, the last person you would ever expect to be murdered in her own home.

"It's a rural farming community, logging community," said Tim Besst with the Latah County Sheriff's Office. " Everybody knows everybody, so even your friends, you treat them like family too."

Besst says the case has disturbed the tight-knit community for more than decades.

"You would have never thought of anything like this happening, especially here," he said.

Hazel Martin spent the last night of her life doing what she loved, playing cards. She came home and found unspeakable evil.

"Hazel was very friendly," Besst said. "We suspect it happened between 10 PM and midnight."

An investigation began the next day.

"Her granddaughter had driven by that morning and saw her grandma had not picked up the morning paper," Besst said. "She went inside, and her grandma wasn't there. Some things were out of place, her slippers were there, her glasses."

But Hazel and all of her bedding were gone. Signs of forced entry were captured in crime scene photos.

"(One theory is) someone came in trying to steal something and caught her by surprise, and then ended up killing her," Besst said. "I don't think the people came in with the intent of killing her."

Her bedding was found in the following weeks dumped in nearby waters. It would be roughly one year until her remains were found in rural Latah County. They were so badly decomposed, detectives can't be 100% certain how she was killed.

"We confirmed that through dental records that it was, in fact, her," Besst said.

Leads have come in over the years, but nothing has ever ended with an arrest. Besst is hopeful after all the years, someone who knows something about this case will do the right thing.

If you have any information, call LCSO at (208) 882-2216.

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