Eric Coy loved to ride his bicycle.This California 9-year-old boy liked to ride his BMX bike most of the time when he had free time. He asked his dad, Dan Coy, in the morning of Saturday, January 24, 1987, if he could ride his bike to his aunt’s house, which was a few blocks away. He wanted to play at Eddrick’s house because they were best friends. He was allowed to leave, and he did so just before 11 a.m. He never got to his aunt’s house; 15 minutes later, his body was found in the woods close to his house.
Eric usually cut short his way to his aunt’s house by going through the woods behind Martinez Junior High School. This was a place that all the kids in the neighborhood knew well because they would often get together there to play in Alhambra Creek. At 11:10 a.m., a 13-year-old boy cutting through the woods to get to a nearby boys and girls club saw Eric and his bike lying in a bush next to the cement footbridge that crossed Alhambra Creek. He thought Eric had crashed while riding his bike, so he sped to the nearby club right away to get help.
He went to the club and saw some teens playing basketball. He told them that Eric had fallen off his bike and needed help. He went back to the area where he had found Eric with some of the teens. When he saw Eric, he knew things were getting serious. Eric had blood all over him and didn’t look like he was breathing.
Though one of the teens got closer, he saw that what they were dealing with was much worse than a bike accident. Eric had been cut open in the throat. He was so scared that he ran to the house of 70-year-old Bill Belon nearby and asked him to call the police. Bill quickly called 911 and ran into the woods, but stopped when he saw Eric. He knew right away that the little boy couldn’t be helped.
Within minutes, first responders arrived and tried to do CPR on Eric, but they quickly realized it wouldn’t work. Someone had stabbed Eric several times, and they couldn’t do anything to save his life. At the scene, they said he was de*ad. He had been stabbed 10 times with something sharp, most likely a long knife, according to an autopsy.
Eric’s parents started to worry about him when he didn’t call home by 11:30 am to let them know he got to his aunt’s house. They didn’t know what was going on in the woods. It made them worry when they called and learned that his aunt still hadn’t seen him. They decided to wait 10 minutes longer to see if he called because they thought he might have stopped at a candy store on his way to his aunt’s house.
Eric’s parents went to look for him when he still hadn’t arrived at his aunt’s house by 11:40 a.m. Dan hopped in his car and drove toward Eddrick’s house, fully expecting to run into Eric somewhere along the way. Barb, Eric’s mom, went out on foot because she knew her husband wouldn’t be able to drive through the wooded shortcut.
Coming up on the junior high school, Dan saw a group of police officers gathered near the woods. This made his blood run cold. At that very moment, he was sure his son had been hurt sometime. Dan drove up to the police and asked them if they had seen a little boy. He hoped that they would say no. But the police officers only waved for him to stop his car. Once they knew for sure that he was Eric’s dad, they told him the bad news. Someone had k*illed his son.
Barbara quickly got to the scene of the crime. She cried when Dan told her that Eric had died. A police officer had to drive her home because she was so crazy while Dan stayed at the junior high school and talked to detectives.
People who knew Eric were shocked when he died. They thought Martinez was a safe place to raise their kids because there wasn’t much violence there and the kids could play outside without being scared. Eric and all the other kids and teens in the area used the shortcut every day without any problems.
Barbara and Dan couldn’t understand why someone would want to hurt their son. He was friendly and outgoing, and he had never had a problem with anyone in the neighborhood. He was in the third grade at Las Juntas Elementary School. Eric’s father said that he was smart for his age and knew not to talk to strangers. He probably wouldn’t have stopped for someone he didn’t know if they came up to him while he was riding his bike through the woods.
The brutal crime shocked Martinez’s 24,000 residents, who were afraid that there was a child k*iller on the loose in the area. Martinez’s kids were locked down for hours after Eric was ki*lled because their parents wouldn’t let them go anywhere alone. When kids play in the wooded area, you can usually hear them. But on that Saturday, there were no kids there, and it stayed quiet for a long time after the mu*rder.
Reporters were told by the head of Las Juntas Elementary School that Eric was a nice kid who always had a smile on his face. He had won an award at school for “good citizenship” the week before he was ki*lled for “caring for the environment and returning lost articles.” Eric was liked by both his teachers and his classmates. When the school heard that he had died, they didn’t know how to tell his students.
Investigators talked to the 13-year-old who found Eric’s body and all the other teens who went back into the woods with him to help him. All of them wanted to help the police but couldn’t give them any useful information. Most of them had taken the short cut to get to the boys and girls club earlier that day, but they hadn’t seen anyone out of the ordinary hanging out in the woods at that time.
On Saturday night, police went door-to-door in the neighborhood and asked each person if they had seen or heard anything strange that morning. Not one of them had, but Steve Whitworth, a local, was worried that the wooded area had become a hangout for “mentally disturbed transients.” A reporter asked him about the homeless people who lived in the woods next to his house, which was right next to Alhambra Creek. He said that every night he would hear a lot of noise coming from the woods.
Other locals agreed that travelers did tend to gather in the wooded area near the creek, but they said that they had never been violent with anyone who came through. The Martinez police station was only a few blocks away from the woods. Some people thought that the closeness of the police helped to keep the homeless people in check.
In Martinez’s history, Eric was the first child to be k*illed. Mayor Mike Menesini was shocked, as was everyone else. “I believe everyone is shocked. There are a lot of 9-year-old boys who live in this family neighborhood. We’re really scared. The mayor, like everyone else, hoped the case would be solved quickly.
Investigators were doing everything they could to find the k*iller, but it was taking a long time because no one had seen the brutal attack. The case was being worked on by five detectives, fifteen police officers, five reserve officers, and a few cadets. However, they admitted that they had no suspects in the m*urder and were having a hard time figuring out why it happened.
A spokesperson for the Martinez Police Department said it looked like the k*illing was done for no reason. “It makes no sense at all. In a city like Martinez, you wouldn’t expect those things to happen. The seemingly random nature of the crime meant that it would not be easy to solve, but police were sure they could find the ki*ller.
Monday was the first day of school for kids in Martinez. There were a lot of police along the wooded shortcut and outside of all of the schools in the district.
Police said two days after Eric’s de*ath that they were looking for a man who had been seen near Martinez Junior High School around the time of the mu*rder. They didn’t call him a suspect because he was just another possible witness they wanted to talk to at that point in the investigation.
The man was shown in a composite sketch on the Tuesday after the m*urder. He was described as a male with light skin who was 18 to 21 years old and had black hair that was about shoulder-length and straight. He was about 165 pounds and 5 feet 8 inches tall. He had a strong build. People who saw him said he was carrying a black umbrella that could be folded up. After the sketch came out, police got more than 100 calls, but none of them led them to the man they were looking for.
Investigators were still looking for the man shown in the composite sketch, but they also thought that Eric’s ki*ller might be someone closer to home. Detectives found out that Eric’s parents had a fight the night before he was k*illed, even though Eric was a quiet boy who never got into a fight.
On the driveway of Eric’s family home was the driveway of the house next door. Eric left his bike in the driveway on Friday night, and the woman who lived next door said it was in the way of her getting to the front door. That night, the neighbor’s brother was at the house working on a car, and he got into a fight with Eric’s mother. Barbara was scared of the man so much that she called her husband at a friend’s house and told him he had to come home right away.
When Dan got to the house, he talked to the neighbor and her brother. Later, he told the police that the brother, Benjamin Gomez, told Eric he would ki*ll him if he left his bike in the driveway again. Dan thought the threat was very bad, so he called the police. They arrived and stopped the fight.
However, Benjamin later admitted that he had made threats against Eric. He said that he did this out of anger and had nothing to do with Eric’s d*eath. He went to the police station on his own to be questioned, and investigators found that he had a good excuse for when the mu*rder happened. People thought that the fact that he had threatened to hurt the boy was just a bad accident.
As of the end of the following week, police had followed up on more than 200 tips but had not made any major progress in the case. In order to get new information, an unknown donor offered a $1,000 reward for information that would help catch Eric’s ki*ller. Even though more tips came in, none of them led to the mur*derer.
The police asked the FBI to help them find the k*iller by making a profile of him. Some police officers thought it was likely that the ki*ller was a homeless person with mental health problems who had attacked Eric out of the blue and then left the Martinez area. Another group of profilers thought the k*iller was someone from the Martinez neighborhood who might still be in the area and probably had some mental health issues. Still other people said it was possible that the ki*ller was a violent loner who had ki*lled Eric because he wanted to see how it felt to ki*ll someone.
The FBI profiles might have helped if police had a suspect to compare them to, but they didn’t help them figure out who the kil*ler was. Detectives did everything they could to solve the case, but they soon ran out of ideas and the case went cold. Many times over the years, the case has been looked at again and again, but nothing new has happened.
In 1987, Eric Coy was k*illed very badly when he was only 9 years old. On the outside, he looked like Spanky from The Little Rascals. He was a friendly and outgoing boy. Investigators think he was picked at random, which makes it hard to find his k*iller. They hope that someone who knows something about the case will finally come forward and help them solve it and get Eric justice. The wait for his family has been over 35 years. Please call the Martinez Police Department’s anonymous tip line at 925–372–3457 if you know anything about Eric’s de*ath.