Police files paint volatile nature of Molly Martens
All Jason Corbett talked about was returning to Ireland with the two children, claims his friend
When Jason Corbett's friends learned that his friendship with his children's au pair had developed into something deeper, they were delighted.
It was a fresh start. His wife, Margaret, died suddenly of an asthma attack in 2006, leaving him widowed, devastated and with two motherless babies, Jack and Sarah, to rear.
In February 2008, Molly Martens, from Knoxville Tennessee, came into Jason's life; she was eight years his junior and his fourth au pair. A relationship blossomed and by 2011 Jason and Molly were engaged to be married and planned to move to America with the children.
"Molly said she couldn't stand the cold weather in Ireland and she missed her friends and her family," said Jason's friend and colleague, Morgan Fogarty, this weekend.
As the leaving date approached, Morgan noticed that Jason was not quite so enthusiastic. When Jason's travel documents got delayed, he "almost seemed to be happy" about it, he said.
A couple of days before he left, Morgan dropped into Jason's office at Multi Packaging Solutions in Limerick, where he was plant manager. Jason seemed down, Morgan recalled. "He said he had found out that Molly had a few health issues that he wasn't aware of. He mentioned a couple of medical issues, but he mentioned that she was bi-polar," he said. "He was clearly upset when he heard that, he was down in the mouth."
None of this stopped him leaving for Davidson County, North Carolina with his family on a job transfer. According to Morgan, his actual words were that he "couldn't take another mother away from the kids. I think he felt he was in too deep to pull back."
According to police records released last week, Jason Corbett (39) was thinking of returning to Ireland when he was beaten to death with a baseball bat and a concrete paving brick by Molly Martens (31) and her father, an ex FBI agent, Tom Martens.
Last week, father and daughter were led in handcuffs to face charges of second- degree murder and voluntary manslaughter at Davidson County court house in North Carolina before being freed on bail of $200,000.
Molly's family have portrayed Jason's death as a case of necessary self-defence. But in some of the hundreds of US police and court records released as part of the case, Molly is accused of being an angry, volatile woman, a liar and a fantasist who was obsessed with her step children. At least that was how Jason's sister, Tracy, also portrayed her in a sworn affidavit.
Tracy was especially close to Jason, who in his will named her and her husband David Lynch as guardians to Jack and Sarah. She first saw Molly's mask slip at her wedding to Jason in April 2011, according to records she filed when she battled Molly for custody of the children.
Chatting to Molly's friends and neighbours at the reception, Tracy realised that Molly had been telling them that she and Jason's first wife, Margaret, were pen pals before she died. This was a "lie".
Molly herself "flipped out", "completely lost control and began screaming at Jason and at my husband. She threw her chief bridesmaid and her parents out of the wedding," Tracy claimed. The cause of Molly's upset was a guest who went for a McDonald's because she was allergic to the food.
Over the years and many visits across the Atlantic, Tracy claimed to witness numerous other episodes of Molly's lies and volatility. She claimed Molly was obsessive about the children, especially Sarah and insisted they call her 'Mom'. She "avoided" telling neighbours in the US that they were not her children. When Jack told the neighbours the truth, she became "enraged".
According to Tracy, Jack got the brunt of Molly's "explosive anger". Molly was seen holding Jack's head under a running tap to punish him for splashing her with water, Tracy claimed. Later that night, Jason's sister, Marilyn, watched from the bathroom as Molly pulled Jack out of bed with an expression of "utter rage" on her face. When Molly realised she had been seen, Tracy claimed, she left Jack's room "muttering" that he had forgotten to do something.
When Lynn Shanahan, the children's godmother from Limerick and a close family friend, visited Jason and his family in 2014, she saw Molly become "utterly enraged" with Jack for reminding her that "she was not his mother", and "screaming and shouting at him and "displaying continued anger towards him over several days".
Molly told Tracy that she was "bipolar". Tracy didn't like how she left her lithium medication lying around in the open. When Molly came to stay at Tracy's house, she said she noticed a pattern of Molly vomiting after every meal, leaving the Lynches to clean up after she left.
During other visits to the US, she claimed that Molly drank Margaritas throughout the day and lied about being an Olympic swimmer, a teacher, a book editor, a foster parent to a six year-old boy - all untrue, according to Tracy.
But the children were the flashpoint in the marriage.
Molly put Jason under "tremendous" and prolonged pressure to allow her adopt Jack and Sarah, Jason resisted. He discussed this "continuing struggle" with his siblings. According to Tracy, Jason kept the children's passports and visas in his possession at all times.
Last summer, he planned to return to Ireland within the year, she said, and planned a holiday here in the meantime, with the children but not with Molly.
Then, at 3.04am, on August 2 Molly's father, Tom, dialled the emergency services from the master bedroom of the Corbett home in Panther Creek.
"My daughter's husband, my son-in-law, got in a fight with my daughter. I intervened and I think… he's in bad shape. We need help."
"Okay, what do you mean he's in bad shape, he's hurt?"
"He's bleeding all over and I may have killed him."
Last week, Molly's uncle, Mike Earnest, also an FBI agent, said their action was a "completely necessary and justified" case of "self-defence".
The police had other suspicions, even before detectives knew anything about the Corbett's troubled marriage. Detectives from the County Sheriff's office drove to 160 Panther Creek and found Jason Corbett, a big man, lying on his back in the master bedroom with "massive head injuries".
Tom Martens told police there was a "Donnybrook" - which police took from the Merriman dictionary to mean "a public argument or uncontrolled fight". He said he and his wife, Sharon, who were visiting, had been staying in the guest bedroom. He heard a disturbance in the master bedroom and saw Jason "choking" Molly. Mr Martens said he grabbed a baseball bat and hit Jason.
Tom Martens did not mention that a concrete block was also used to attack Jason in the 999 emergency call, though he did mention it later.
In his report, Detective Thompson said he had been in several "uncontrolled fights" in his time, and that what he saw in the master bedroom of Panther Creek that night was "not consistent" with what he was being told.
He noted also that neither Tom nor Molly Corbett had suffered any injuries.
Later, detectives learnt that Tom Martens and his wife, Sharon, had "suddenly" changed their plans to travel from their home in Knoxville, Tennessee to visit the Corbetts in North Carolina. This was "unusual behaviour" for Tom Martens, they were told.
Speaking to Jason's extended family in the days and weeks afterwards, gave detectives cause to probe further.
They were told that Jason was preparing to return home permanently with the children but without Molly. He had been "making arrangements", police said.
A business colleague told detectives that Jason had been discussing transferring his assets back to Ireland, and mentioned a sum of $60,000.
That led to another possible motive. Jason's family said he was "concerned" about Molly's spending habits. Detectives told of how "large sums of money" had been removed from some of his and Molly's joint bank accounts. "Jason Corbett's alleged comfortable financial status provides additional possible motive for his untimely death," one police report said.
Jason's son, Jack, inadvertently raised a possible discrepancy. A fortnight after their father's death, following a custody battle, Tracy and David Lynch brought Jack and Sarah back to Limerick, enrolled them in school and got them grievance counselling.
According to police records, Jack told his counsellor about the baseball bat his step-grandfather had given him during the summer. It had black and red markings and black grips and he kept it in his black sports bag in the garage. Jack mentioned this to David, who in turn told investigators.
The baseball bat that Tom Martens had used was also black and red with black grips, but Tom told detectives that he had brought the bat with him that day as a gift for Jack, but never had a chance to give it to him. Detective Thompson suspected that, instead, the bat may have been taken from Martens's step-grandson's gym equipment bag in the garage.