We're obsessed with true crime, and TV networks and streaming services have picked up on this fact. It seems like the genre is growing more than it ever has before, with Netflix, Amazon Prime, Lifetime, and even VH1 with My True Crime Story getting in on the action. The second episode of the show's first season highlights the story of Candice Rose Martinez, aka the "Cell Phone Bandit." What happened to the young woman?
What happened to Candice Martinez?
The Northern Virginia Community college student had probably decided that higher education wasn't all that it's cracked up to be and thought that instead of hitting the books and going legit, she'd try and get some fast cash. At only 19 years old, she partnered up with her boyfriend at the time, Dave C. Williams (who was also 19), to commit four bank robberies in the Northern Virginia area in 2005.
Williams was Martinez's getaway driver and the young couple soon made headlines for the manner in which they robbed the banks. The young woman would calmly be speaking on her cell phone the entire time she held up bank tellers, with Williams on the other line. Surveillance footage showed her waiting patiently after threatening tellers who would then comply with her request.
Mekeda Smith-El, who worked at the Washington, D.C., Wachovia branch (now Wells Fargo) during one of Martinez's four heists, was reported by Wave 3 News in 2006 as saying, "Every day I've seen her face in my mind."
Smith-El didn't testify in the case against the young woman, but she told the media that she'd been handed a note by Martinez who demanded $75,000 in cash.
Martinez wasn't able to get that amount of money, but was able to secure $14,000 from the location. Williams and Martinez also committed robberies in Manassas, Springfield, and Ashburn.
The threatening notes informing the tellers that they were being robbed were usually presented in a box. Williams used his home computer to type up the note and print out the document. This act, along with being a getaway driver, also implicated him in the crimes.
During Martinez's fourth robbery she didn't present a note but a handgun instead to the teller. CNN reported that a witness affidavit indicated the note read: "You have 40 seconds to put all your money in the box, do not make any sudden moves." During one of the stick-ups, Martinez reportedly said, "You're taking too long, you have 40 seconds. I need you to empty all the drawers — you have three."
Martinez was ultimately apprehended by Fairfax County authorities in Centreville, Va., at 3:35 a.m. on Nov. 15, 2005. A computer, digital camera, and cell phone box were confiscated upon her arrest. Soon after, Williams was also apprehended.
U.S. District Court Judge Gerald Bruce Lee sentenced the couple to a total of 12 years in prison: five for conspiracy to commit bank robbery and seven for using a firearm in a violent crime.
In court, Martinez tearfully apologized to 20-year-old Jessica Dickerson, who also wept while taking the stand. "Even if she had no intention of hurting me, I didn't know that," Dickerson said, per Wave 3 News.
What happened to Candice Martinez during her childhood?
The young bank robber's mother testified that her daughter had a troubled childhood that included emotional and sexual abuse. "She didn't have a stable home," Michelle Medina said per the outlet, later telling the media that her daughter is "a good girl, and she's sorry for everything she did." Martinez spent the ages of 12–17 at a Boys and Girls Town in Nebraska to seek refuge from her troubled home life.