Years ago, I had been engaged to a woman struggling with bipolar depression. She told me she was going to Ireland to nanny for a widower with two kids and would return in a few weeks. I have never seen her since.
It took me about two years to get over that heartbreak and move on when I received an eerie email from a detective in North Carolina one Friday night. The message was along the lines of: “I understand you were once in a relationship with Molly Martens and wrote a book about it. She is a person of interest in a crime, and I would like to talk to you.”
I was shocked, and as the detective brought me up to speed, my head was spinning. Molly had married the Irishman, Jason Corbett, becoming stepmother to his two children, and the family had moved to North Carolina. In 2015, Molly and her father, Thomas Martens, a retired FBI agent, were being questioned in the death of Corbett in a brutal attack involving a baseball bat and a concrete paving stone.
I answered the detective’s questions by phone and asked if I would be called to testify in the trial. He said the information I provided was helpful, but the case against Molly and her father was so strong that my testimony probably would not be needed— a relief to me.
In the ensuing months, Molly and her father were charged with murder. I knew I could have contacted media outlets, and many probably would have paid for my unique insight into my former fiancée. I probably could have gained a lot of sales on the books I had written, especially my memoir, in which Molly played such a large role. But I didn’t want any part of this stressful and dramatic situation, so I decided to do nothing. I finally was feeling healthy, and the last thing I wanted was to revisit such a dark time in my life.
But then someone close to the victim reached out to me. They knew about my memoir, in which I wrote about my time with “Mary”—I’d chosen not to use Molly’s real name out of respect for her privacy - and hoped I’d speak out about what I knew about her.
I shared how Molly had been in a psych ward in Atlanta shortly before she left for Ireland. She was indeed bipolar, prone to lying and was taking an astonishing amount of potent medications. She was unable to hold a job, often crying in bed or in the bathtub for hours at a time, sometimes days. Her parents were well aware of this, yet they did nothing. I didn’t feel she was at all capable of becoming the sole parental figure for two children, who by then had lost both their parents.
Almost two years after Corbett was found dead in his bedroom, the trial of Molly and her father began in North Carolina. The pair claimed self-defense, and the story sparked international interest. Nancy Grace and 20/20, among others, ran pieces on the horrendous spectacle.
My once-quiet life got much louder. Major news shows contacted me, and I received well over a hundred calls and messages from people in Ireland and the United States.
I decided to speak to only one particular news program, in large part due to the professionalism and ethics of the producer with whom I met. The producer was committed to getting the truth while avoiding sensationalism.
Making Sense of It All
On August 9, Molly and Tom Martens were unanimously convicted of second-degree murder after only four hours of jury deliberation. Each was sentenced to 20-25 years in prison.
The experience has been crazy and sad and surreal — for years I had avoided the negativity and sensationalism in the “news” and didn’t watch true-crime shows. But now I was going to be featured on one, talking about the guilt of someone I’d once been engaged to and lived with. Crime stories had always seemed so remote from me. That kind of thing doesn’t happen to the good people I know and surround myself with — and certainly not to me.
But now it does.
This experience has not been the fifteen minutes of fame I’d expected, nor is it something I wanted. I just want to write inspirational books about the good in life in relative anonymity, but life sometimes has other plans.
I count my blessings that I survived, as I easily could have been a victim. I continue to pray for those whose lives were forever altered by this incident, especially the parents, siblings and children of Jason Corbett. May they find the strength to go on with their lives, leading as close to a “normal” existence as possible given all they have endured.