TAMPA — Police Tuesday announced a bigger reward for information they hope will crack the unsolved murder of Emilio Martinez-Rodriguez, who never returned home from fetching food for his pregnant wife.
The reward was increased from $5,000 to $25,000, police said during a news conference Tuesday morning. All but $1,000 of the reward comes from the family. The rest is from Crime Stoppers.
"We've been receiving leads and tips from a variety of people," said police Maj. Russell Marcotrigiano. "Unfortunately, at this point in time, none of those leads have really panned out. What we're asking for is some more assistance from the public."
Martinez-Rodriguez, 34, disappeared Dec. 15 during what was supposed to be a quick trip for Chinese food for his wife, Kacee Martinez. He never made it back inside his Dallas Avenue house.
Before he returned, a neighbor sent his wife a text message about a suspicious person in a nearby alley. Martinez opened the door and found a grocery bag in the driveway with her favorite root beer. A neighbor's surveillance camera showed his gray Toyota Camry heading toward the house and a man running up the street.
Police have said they thought Martinez-Rodriguez was targeted and that it was not a random crime. They also believe more than one person was involved but declined to provide details.
Eight days after he disappeared, Martinez-Rodriguez's body was found inside his abandoned car. He had been shot more than once — police declined to say how many times.
His wife gave birth to the couple's son, Emilio Jose Martinez Jr., whom she calls E.J, on May 27.
"It's unfortunate now that he's going to grow up without his father," said Marcotrigiano. "We need to bring closure to this case. We need to get this killer or killers off the street for his sake and for his family so they can move on with their lives."