Unsolved Murders: Wilmer Martin

Andrew Trzaska | December 7, 2010

People around Muskegon and Muskegon Heights knew him as the “Shopping Cart Man” for his daily voyages around town.  He was virtually never seen without his shopping cart, which was full of a large assortment of items that were part of a “collection” project.  His project was cut short the summer of 2005, when his he was found dead.  It was ruled a homicide but the case has remained unsolved till this day.

A Muskegon Catholic Central graduate, Wilmer Martin was 48 years old when he was stabbed in the chest and left for dead in the 900 block of Spring Street behind a shed near a graphics business. A man on his way to work called 911 when he saw the body at about 9:30 a.m. that day.  It is believed he was killed the night before.

At the time of the murder, Muskegon County Prosecutor Tony Tague stated that the case cause great disturbance in the community because “you basically have a harmless defenseless, homeless person who was killed for no clear reason.”

While truthful in its analysis of the community reaction, this statement does hold one misconception about Martin.  He was not homeless, despite his thin frame and unconventional behavior.  He rented a room in the Jackson Hill neighborhood, according to, which has a short report about his murder.

Martin was described as “innocent”, and “harmless” by Angel Community Church Pastor Jeffrey Hough at the time of Martin’s funeral. It appears he was regarded positively around town, and a motive for the crime has been hard to establish.  There has been little for police investigators to work with at this point.

At the time of the initial investigation, WZZM reported that an unnamed man was offering a $1,000 reward for in the case.

Those with any information about the murder of Wilmer Martin are urged to call Muskegon County Silent Observer at 231.72-CRIME.

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