Catherine Martinez was a rising fitness model, a mother-of-two, and the wife of an R&B singer Russell Neal at the time of her murder in July 2014. She was found badly beaten and stabbed to death inside her apartment in Houston, Texas, after he husband voluntarily walked into the police department and told authorities about their fight, claiming that she needed medical attention.
Over the years, little progress has been made in this case, given that Martinez's husband was ruled unfit to stand trial after he started referring to himself as Jesus Christ. Ever since then, he has remained in a state mental facility.
Monday's all-new episode of Death by Fame will further examine Catherine Martinez's case, offering new insights on what transpired inside that Houston apartment that day. The episode, titled The Killing Game, airs on ID at 9 pm ET this February 20, 2023.
The official synopsis of the episode reads:
"In Houston, Texas, aspiring model Catherine Martinez falls for a former pop star she believes to be her ticket to stardom; however, when ambition and jealousy collide, a Hollywood dream becomes a real-life nightmare."
Catherine Martinez murder: Five quick facts to know about the killing of the fitness model and mother-of-two
1) Catherine was last seen alive by her mother on June 28, 2014
Catherine Martinez was last seen alive when she left her mother's house on June 28. A few days later, her 40-year-old husband, Russell Neal, voluntarily walked into the Houston Police Department and implied that he may have killed his wife, although not directly mentioning it. He told authorities that they "got into a fight and she needed medical attention."
2) Police found Catherine Martinez dead from blunt force and stab wounds
After Russell Neal confessed to authorities, he was taken into custody without incident. However, he immediately asked for a lawyer and refused to speak any further. According to reports, a witness claimed:
"He wasn’t resisting arrest or fighting with them, or saying anything. When they took him out in handcuffs, he was just as calm as can be and they just put him in a police car."
24-year-old Catherine Martinez was then found dead on the living room floor of their apartment by authorities who broke down the door to enter. Her body was covered with a blanket. It was later confirmed that she died of multiple stab wounds and blunt force injuries to the head.
3) Her two young sons were present inside the house at the time of the murder
According to reports, Catherine Martinez had two sons with her husband and alleged killer Russell Near. Their sons Raphael, 3, and Diego, 5, were present in the house when the murder occurred but were found in a separate room afterward.
According to Catherine's family, one of their sons allegedly left their room during the attack and saw blood on Russell's shoes when he told him that the red stains (Catherine’s blood) were from ketchup.
The victim's sister, Glenda Lewis, told True Crime Daily that:
"They were there. And I believe one of them walked out because he talks about it," said Emy. He has nightmares."
4) Russell Neal was abusive towards Catherine, and her family knew about it
Catherine Martinez's family revealed that the couple's marriage was far from perfect. They claimed that Russell was allegedly abusive towards his wife. Moreover, his finances were in such a bad place that she had to become the breadwinner. Her family members also talked about the bruises and scratches all over her body, indicating physical abuse, and how she used makeup to cover it all up.
5) He was declared unfit to stand trial in Catherine's murder
Once Russell Neal was placed in prison while awaiting trial, he started calling himself Jesus Christ, after which he was admitted to a mental institution at Rusk State Hospital in Texas. After receiving therapy at the facility for a year, the Harris County Court determined that he was mentally ill and unfit to stand trial despite authorities' claims that he was aware of his actions when he killed Catherine in 2014.