Murdered man's neighbors express shock, sadness

March 26, 2002|By DARREN SIMON

Staff Writer

As El Centro police continued their search for a suspect in the killing Sunday of an 85-year-old man, those who knew the man voiced shock and sadness at the violence that took his life.

Martin Weiss was killed in his home at 1230 Ross Ave., where he had lived for more than three decades, according to neighbors.

His death came sometime between when he was seen at church at noon and 4 p.m., when a friend checking in on him found him dead.


A determination of official cause of death was pending an autopsy to be conducted today. However, Sgt. Rick Macken of the county Coroner's Office said Weiss has puncture wounds on his upper body and neck.

Information on what kind of weapon was used was unavailable this morning. No weapon was recovered.

Weiss' pickup was stolen and recovered later Sunday by investigators. It was found just south of El Centro on Clark Road near Loop Road.

There was evidence indicating there had been a disturbance inside the home, according to El Centro police Lt. Tim Blankenship.

Police were continuing to follow leads today.

All along the 1200 block of Ross, neighbors said they could not believe the neighbor they knew as a strong and kind man had been murdered.

"He was a real nice guy. He always waived to you," said Ray Taylor, who — like Weiss — is a World War II veteran.

Another neighbor, Raymond Garza, said he and Weiss were good friends who would visit with each other.

"I'm very saddened," he said. "He was a nice fella."

He added, "I can't even pinpoint who would do this to this gentleman. He was just a pretty simple old man who only had the necessities."

Another neighbor, who asked not to be identified, said Weiss was the type of a man who would check on neighbors to make sure they were all right. That neighbor added Weiss was often working on his yard.

"For 85 he wasn't a weak old man," that neighbor said.

Weiss was a decorated World War II veteran who had served in both the European and Pacific theaters.

He had received the World War II Victory medal, the Good Conduct medal, the American Defense Service medal, the Asiatic Pacific Campaign medal, and the European/African/Middle Eastern Campaign medal.

He was a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3255 in Imperial, the United Veterans Council and the Veterans Employment Committee.

Don Vaughn, Imperial County veterans services officer, said of Weiss' death, "I couldn't believe it. It seems like it happens to the best people."

Weiss was a life member of the Imperial Valley Historical Society and was a volunteer at Pioneers' Museum. He was a membership chairman for the society for 10 years and was a past president.

Lynn Housouer, director of operations for the museum, said Weiss was an active volunteer committed to the cause of the museum and the society.

"He was always there to pitch in when help was needed," she said. "We could always count on him."

Housouer added Weiss did not have family in the Valley. She said he has a son who resides elsewhere.

She said of Weiss, "He will be missed."

Garza said, "I can feel in my heart that he is in a better place and the Lord is comforting him."

El Centro police have asked anyone with information about the case to contact Sgt. Theresa Quinn at 336-8985 or Detective Angie Cuevas at 336-8996.

>> Staff Writer Darren Simon can be reached at 337-4082.

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