Teen Girl Allegedly Killed By Ex-Boyfriend On Class Trip To Myrtle Beach
Natalie Martin went to Myrtle Beach to celebrate her recent high school graduation but her trip was cut tragically short on June 7, 2023, when she was found dead in a rental home she was sharing with friends.
The future looked exceptionally bright for 18-year-old Natalie Martin. She graduated from Philo High School in Duncan Falls, Ohio, and she headed to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina to celebrate that milestone. However, the trip went from celebration to tragedy when friends found her dead body in the bedroom of a rental home on June 7, 2023. According to PEOPLE, police believe she was strangled to death the day before, on June 6, by her ex-boyfriend Blake Linkous.
Linkous and Martin had been friends since childhood, and they dated for several years. However, they broke up a few months before the trip. Brooklyn Ferrell, Martin’s best friend, told Fox News Digital that Linkous had previously gotten violent with Martin months prior to her death. Linkous, who was a wrestler and football player, allegedly threw Martin across the room in front of friends, according to Ferrell. He tried to make amends and win her back, but the two remained just friends.
The day before the murder, the two teens were arguing because Martin was texting another man, reported Fox News Digital. After the dispute seemed to be resolved, the group of friends went out to a club. Martin left early because she wasn’t feeling well, and her friends never saw her alive again.
When the friends returned that evening, they had to use the back door because nobody was answering the front door although the friends thought Martin and Linkous were there. They discovered that the door to Martin’s room was locked, but everyone on the trip was asleep by 7 a.m., reported PEOPLE.
After Linkous allegedly murdered Martin, he locked himself in the room with her dead body for hours. Ferrell told Fox News Digital, "At about 9 a.m., Blake came out, he had stabbed himself in the chest and everyone got up and was freaking out and asking ‘Where’s Natalie? Where's Natalie?’”
Those friends then found Martin and tried to save her life using CPR. Ferrell shared, "It was way too late for that. She was cold and stiff.”
Linkous was arrested by the Horry County Police Department on June 8, and he was charged with one count of murder. He was initially held without bond. However, he appeared for a bond hearing on Thursday, June 29, and was granted a $150,000 surety bond “on the condition that he signed a waiver of extradition,” according to ABC 15 News.
The judge determined he was not a flight risk or a danger to himself or others, partially because he had no criminal background beyond the murder charge. He is being released to the custody of his parents and ordered to not have contact with the victim’s family. He also must be electronically monitored. The judge can still deny the bond, however, if he does not pass a mental evaluation.
The victim’s family requested that Linkous not be granted a bond. They explained that, since Martin couldn’t be with her family, Linkous should not be allowed to be with his family.
Principal Troy Dawson, who oversees Philo High School which Martin and Linkous both attended, told Fox News Digital, "We're hurting. It's a tragedy. We are just shocked with disbelief. She was well-liked by her classmates and teachers and was very sweet and very funny."
Dawson shared that he wasn’t aware of any problems between the two teens and said he was shocked that this had happened.
Martin is remembered as an athletic teenager who enjoyed playing softball and soccer at the school. Her obituary captures the loving way she is being remembered. It stated, “Natalie lived her life to the fullest with joy, laughter, and love. She brought true happiness to all that knew her. She had a free, pure and wild spirit with a contagious laugh, a personality out of this world that could bring anyone out of their darkest of days.”
Ferrell started a GoFundMe page to help the family with funeral expenses. She is grieving her friend and wanted to help. She told Zanesville Times Recorder, "Natalie was loved by anyone she came in contact with.” She also stated, "She was like no other. She was very caring, and she knew she had support wherever she went. She had a friend no matter where she would go."
Martin’s grieving parents, Megan Dingey and Jesse Martin, and her two brothers now await justice for the teenager.
If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic violence or abuse from a romantic partner, you can visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline website, call 1.800.799.SAFE, or text START to 88788 for help. Advocates are available 24/7 to help callers talk through their situation and connect them with local resources. There is no charge to reach out to the National Domestic Violence Hotline.