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Disabled Florida Navy Veteran Tortured, Left To Die After Attack By Former Caretaker
Maranda Martin enlisted her cousin to assault and help rob her former patient, disabled Navy veteran Paul Quandt Sr.
Blues Creek in northwest Gainesville, Florida, seemed like a safe place for Paul Quandt Sr. to settle down.
On the night of Jan. 9, 2012, however, the idyllic vision of his safe neighborhood was shattered when the 78-year-old disabled Navy veteran became the victim of a violent home invasion.
Quandt Sr. was left bruised and bloodied, but he managed to get to the home of his neighbor, Virginia Grisson, to beg for help.
"He had a big laceration on his head. There was a big cut on one of his arms. You couldn't even see his skin from the blood," Grisson told "Criminal Confessions," airing Saturdays at 6/5c on Oxygen.
With significant head trauma and a sizable piece of his forearm sawed off by a knife, police concluded that he had been tortured in the midst of the robbery, likely in an attempt to get information about valuable assets in the home.
Grisson called for an ambulance, and before losing consciousness, Quandt Sr. indicated that a male and female suspect were responsible for his attack, and that they had made out with "everything," including the contents of his personal safe. Grisson informed the 911 operator that the suspects had also stolen his white Cadillac El Dorado with Florida tags and disabled veteran sticker.
Shortly after Quandt Sr. was sent to the hospital, Gainesville Police Department Sgt. Stephen Girard spotted the stolen Cadillac. A car chase ensued, with the suspect reaching upwards of 100 mph before ultimately crashing into two other vehicles.
Police moved quickly to arrest the suspect, who invoked his right to remain silent. Gainesville authorities were only able to identify the man as Austin Mark Jones, 22, after running his fingerprints through their database.
Investigators, however, were still searching for the female attacker that Quandt Sr. had mentioned to Grisson.
By speaking with friends and family, police learned Quandt Sr. was frequently visited by caregivers, and that each health care professional was required to sign in and out, confirming they had visited him.
"There was one health care worker that he just didn't feel comfortable with," Quandt Sr.'s son, Paul Quandt Jr., told "Criminal Confessions." "After she'd worked there briefly with him, he noticed one of his house keys was missing. Could it have gotten misplaced? Absolutely. But he had a concern, so we did something about it ... we chang[ed] the locks in his house."
Authorities found that one caretaker's address matched Jones' — Maranda Martin, his 22-year-old cousin.
At her listed address, investigators found Martin's boyfriend, Chad McKee, who claimed he had no knowledge on the incident. McKee cooperated with law enforcement, directing them to Martin's mother's house in Fort White.
She and her mother, Kathy Jones-Martin, were brought in for questioning. While Jones-Martin remained steadfast in the story that her daughter had been with her all night, Martin's story began to change the longer Det. Randy Roberts and former Det. Will Halvosa IV questioned her.
After changing her alibi from dropping off her cousin for a hookup to spending a night with her mom, to spying on her potentially unfaithful boyfriend, Martin finally placed herself in the Blue Creek area at the time of the crime, saying that she dropped Jones off to scare Quandt Sr.
"She was really clinging to that minimization of 'I didn't want to do it, but Austin made me do it' ... She was ready to sort of characterize herself as a victim," Halvosa said.
But once Martin added that she was instructed to put on a red Elmo face mask for the robbery, it became evident to Halvosa that "this is premeditated."
Martin slowly but surely added to her confession. In the video recordings from her interrogation, she told Halvosa that Jones began using brute force to get information out of Quandt Sr.
"He kept saying, 'I'll give you everything you want. Please stop. Oh, that hurts,'" Martin recalled.
She also indicated that she could visibly see him bleeding and suffering as Jones assaulted him.
Martin stated that she drove the Cadillac with Jones inside and that she was responsible for withdrawing cash with Quandt's ATM card at multiple banks before the car chase.
When asked what she was thinking at the end of the interrogation, Martin is heard on video saying, "That I'm the worst person in the whole entire world. And I let something bad happen to somebody that didn't deserve it. And I should have stopped it."
Later, she crawled under a table, crying out, "I want to go home. Please, God, help me. I want to go home."
After interviewing Martin, police searched her car and found Quandt Sr.'s missing house key as well as her journal in which she detailed her plans to rob Quandt Sr.
"She actually was the mastermind. Her cousin, Austin, he was just the brute force. He was just the enforcer, that's all he was," former Det. Joseph Mayo told "Criminal Confessions."
"I don't think she regretted anything that she did to Paul Quandt," he added. "She got caught, and that's what she regrets."
Assistant State Attorney Brian Kramer hypothesized that the case against Martin would have been much harder to prosecute without her confession.
"If Maranda Martin had not confessed, we would have had a significant circumstantial case against her. There was literally nothing to connect her to the scene itself," he said. "Would that connection have been good enough to sustain a conviction? I don't know, probably not."
Martin and Jones were charged with attempted first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit home invasion robbery and conspiracy to commit burglary of an occupied dwelling, according to "Criminal Confessions."
Once Quandt Sr. was taken off of life support and subsequently died, they were charged and convicted of first-degree murder.
Both are currently serving out life sentences.
To hear more about the case, watch "Criminal Confessions" now on Oxygen.