Martha Jean Lambert

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3 AP
Top Row and Bottom Left: Martha, circa 1985;
Bottom Right: Age-progression to age 29 (circa 2002)

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Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance

  • Missing Since: November 27, 1985 from Elkton, Florida
  • Classification: Endangered Missing
  • Date Of Birth: March 26, 1973
  • Age: 12 years old
  • Height and Weight: 4'5, 70 pounds
  • Distinguishing Characteristics: Caucasian female. Blonde hair, blue eyes. Martha's upper front teeth protrude slightly. She has birthmarks on the front of her right thigh and on her upper left chest.
  • Clothing/Jewelry Description: A matching two-piece bathing suit.
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    Details of Disappearance

    Martha's older brother, David Allen Lambert, stated he last saw his sister when they were having dinner together at their family's home in Elkton, Florida. After the meal she told her brother she was going out; when he inquired as to where, she refused to divulge her destination. She was last seen walking west on Kerri-Lynn Road in St. Augustine, Florida near her home later that night. She has never been seen again.

    Martha's family life was troubled. The Lambert children had been in foster care before due to child abuse, and her brothers had previously run away. Her case was initially investigated as that of a runaway, but police eventually concluded she had not left voluntarily. Extensive searches of the area turned up no sign of her or her remains.

    Authorities long suspected David knew more about Martha's disappearance than he had disclosed. He was fourteen years old in 1985. A photograph of him as an adult is posted below this case summary. In September 2009, David confessed to causing his sister's death. He stated they were playing on the grounds of the abandoned Florida Memorial College on King Street and Holmes Boulevard, near their home. They got into a disagreement over money and the argument turned physical. Martha slapped David and in response he pushed her. She fell back and hit her head on a piece of steel, which killed her. David stated he panicked afterwards and buried his sister's body in a shallow grave on the grounds of the college.

    Investigators made considerable efforts to find Martha's body on the land where Florida Memorial College once was, but couldn't locate any remains. They don't expect to recover Martha's body, as Florida Memorial College has been razed and the area completely rebuilt. David's statements were not made public until December 2009. Police believe his story and have closed the case. They will not file charges against David, because he was a minor at the time of the incident and the statute of limitations for manslaughter has expired.

    David has made many conflicting statements about his missing sister over the years; at one point, he told authorities he had heard from Martha and she was going to contact them. His 2009 confession wasn't the first time David had confessed to causing Martha's death. When he was arrested in 2000 for passing a bad check, he told police he was responsible for Martha's death and had buried her at a coquina mine on Holmes Boulevard. He wasn't charged at that time because investigators couldn't find Martha's body or any other evidence to support his statement.

    After David's confession was publicized, his mother, Magaret Lambert Pichon, told the media she didn't believe it. She stated David often makes up stories to get attention and she thinks others were responsible for Martha's disappearance. Shortly after Pichon voiced her opinion, David retracted his previous statements. In media interviews he stated the police wanted to close Martha's case and he only told them what he wanted to hear. He said he is "mentally incompetent," has long-standing emotional problems, and has no idea what happened to Martha. Investigators still believe David was telling the truth about his sister's death, however; they stated he became very emotional during his statement and appeared overwhelmed with grief. Cadaver dogs taken to the site where David said his sister was buried also showed a "change in behavior," although an excavation of the area turned up nothing of interest.

    Martha is described as a trusting and happy person who wanted to be liked, but she had few friends at the time of her disappearance. She was a seventh-grade student at Ketterlinus Junior High School in St. Augustine, Florida in 1985. Foul play is suspected in her case due to the circumstances involved. It remains classified as a non-family abduction or runaway with most agencies.

    David Lambert
    Above: David Lambert, circa 2009

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    Investigating Agency
    If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
    St. Johns County Sheriff's Office
    904-824-8304

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    Source Information
    The National Center For Missing and Exploited Children
    Child Protection Education Of America
    The St. Augustine Record
    St. Johns County Sheriff's Office
    Florida Department of Law Enforcement
    WOKV
    First Coast News
    The Florida Times-Union
    The Doe Network

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    Updated 6 times since October 12, 2004.

    Last updated November 20, 2011; picture added.

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