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Alsip man charged with killing Indiana woman in casino lot

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Updated: April 25, 2013 8:44PM

A suburban Alsip man has been charged in the kidnapping and killing of a 76-year-old Northwest Indiana businesswoman.

Ralph Perez Martinez, 57, once was a tenant at a business owned by business owned by victim Mary Austgen in the Griffith, Ind.

Early on March 29, Austgen was found dead of a gunshot wound in the abdomen in her 2011 Yukon Denali, which was parked at the Majestic Star Casino in Gary. Griffith and Gary Police said she was attacked and kidnapped at gunpoint from her Griffith business — Austgen Industrial Park — the night before she was found.

Martinez worked as a mechanic at the industrial park until he was evicted more than a year ago.

After police announced a $10,000 reward Monday, Griffith Police Chief Greg Mance said they received a tip from Martinez’s ex-wife.

She told investigators that Martinez had offered her two rings that were stolen from Austgen. Police have not recovered the rings and are seeking the public’s assistance in finding them. Police said Austgen was robbed of about $3,000 in cash.

Martinez was captured on security cameras being picked up by a black, four-door BMW at the Majestic Star about 6:45 p.m. March 28. Police said they have spoken to the driver, who was cooperative and no longer a suspect.

Mance was reticent about ascribing a motive in the killing, saying that Martinez had not yet given a statement.

Jeff Austgen said the rings were passed down from his grandmother and mean a great deal to the family. He said he was full of mixed emotions when he heard the news that police arrested someone in connection with his mother’s murder.

“We’re elated . . . but it doesn’t change the fact that she’s gone,” he said.

Martinez faces charges of murder, robbery and criminal confinement in connection with the slaying.

Police said they still are seeking information on Martinez’s actions before and after Austgen’s murder. Anyone with information may contact Griffith police at (219) 924-3141 or the anonymous tip line at (219) 922-3085 or by email at Tipsters also may contact Gary police Detective Lorenzo Davis of the homicide division at (219) 881-4738 or the Gary police anonymous tip line at (866) 274-6347. Individuals also may contact the ATF at (800) ATF-GUNS.

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