Son of Cleveland activist was murdered 19 years ago; Judy Martin now advocate for victims

CLEVELAND - Go to a rally or vigil for a crime victim in Cleveland, and chances are you'll see Judy Martin there.

The 65-year-old has been a voice for victims and support for their surviving families for nearly two decades. It's a journey that began on the afternoon of May 23, 1994.  Her son Christopher, 23, was sitting in a car at East 76th Street and St. Clair Avenue with a friend.

"And another young man wanted the car they were sitting in," Martin told NewsChannel5. "From what I understand, he wanted the rims. So he shot my son and took the car and that's when this part of my life began."

Christopher Martin was a former Euclid High School athlete. His mother remembers him having a beautiful smile.

"He was a good kid," she said, as she stood at the corner where he died 19 years ago. "He was the one that even if he wasn't talking, the teacher said quit talking because he was usually the one that started it."

Martin joined the activist group Black on Black Crime shortly after Christopher's death. Later, she founded a support group for families of homicide victims called Survivors/Victims of Tragedy.

"If I didn't fight for these families, I'd give up," she said, "and I've almost given up twice. But apparently I'm not supposed to do that because something kept me here."

Martin has another son, John, whom she lost touch with more than 10 years ago. She said she's done everything she can to try to contact him, but she doesn't know where he is.

"That's probably one of the reasons I want to work with families of missing persons," she said, "because if their children can be found, I can find my son, too."

Martin said she just wants to give John, 45, a hug.

"If Johnny hears this," she said, "Please call."

Martin's one of the organizers of a Memorial Day of Remembrance on Saturday, May 25, at Gardenview Hill Park.  Participants will remember homicide victims and missing persons with a special focus on cold cases and unsolved murders.

"If you have information on a cold case, if you have information on any homicide, if you have information on any missing person, let us know," Martin said. "If you don't want to talk to the police, call me. I'll let them know."

Gardenview Hill Park is located off East 88th and St. Clair in Cleveland. The event takes place between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.

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