Victim’s dad: Inmate’s death ‘made me happy’
By Chad Abshire
RAWLINS — Charles Martinez said that when he read one of his son’s killers had died in a Virginia prison, he was happy.
“It made me very, very happy about that because he deserved it,” Martinez said.
Bryan Collins, 45, died April 29 in a Virginia prison. He was involved in the murder of 26-year-old Wayne Martinez, a guard at the Wyoming State Penitentiary in June 1997.
“The day they called me and told me Collins died in Virginia, I was very happy about that,” he said. “It made my day.”
Though imprisoned in Virginia, Collins was sentenced out of Carbon County in March, 1999 to a life sentence for felony murder and attempt to escape. His death is still under investigation and the Wyoming Department of Corrections said foul play is “not initially suspected.”
Wayne Martinez was alone in the shift command office June 26, 1997 when he was attacked by James Harlow, Richard Dowdell and Bryan Collins. Harlow struck him in the head with a fire extinguisher and Dowdell and Collins stabbed him repeatedly with homemade knives.
In the July 11, 1997 edition of the Daily Times, Collins admitted to deputies he participated by “stabbing (Wayne Martinez) repeatedly.”
“They don’t know what they put me though,” Charles Martinez said. “When I read (Collins) died, it made me happy.”
Now 70, Charles Martinez said he was “still bitter” about his son’s death.
“It still hurts me,” he said. “I think about it day and night. I’ve dreamt about that stuff so much.
“It still hurts me. I miss him a lot,” he said of his son.
Shortly after the murder, Martinez said his wife, Wayne’s mother, whom he was separated from, committed suicide. Martinez said he had to leave Rawlins.
“I couldn’t stay there. I was born there,” Martinez said, who lives in Fort Collins.
“And I miss Rawlins. I still miss my hometown, no matter how cold and windy it gets,” he said with a laugh. “And I still miss all the people I knew, but they’ve all passed away.”
Martinez said he attended the trials of the men who killed his son and it “cost (him) a lot to travel back and forth.”
“He was a good boy,” Martinez said of Wayne. “He was 26. He had five kids.”
The murder of Wayne Martinez occurred during an attempted prison break from the Wyoming State Penitentiary, in a unit now called the North Facility.
According to an article in the June 27, 1997 edition of the Daily Times, the prison was crowded that summer, housing 962 inmates — far more than the 781 inmates the facility was designed for.
Even then-Department of Corrections Director Judy Uphoff recognized that it was too many prisoners to ensure the safety of the guards, the public and prisoners.
Wayne Martinez only had four hours left on his shift that day before leaving on vacation. He planned to take his family to Disneyland.
Charles Martinez said his family “went through a lot of stuff,” after his son died.
But that was “nothing compared to what they did to my son,” he said. “That was worse.”
A former city employee of 22 years, Martinez said prison guards “don’t get paid enough for that kind of work. It’s dangerous.”
He offered advice to current guards in the Pen.
“Take care of themselves and watch their backs around those cons,” he said. “They might seem nice, but they’re cons.”
Dowdell and Harlow remain alive and incarcerated in out-of-state prisons, serving life sentences for felony murder and attempt to escape on top of murder sentences they’d been serving at the time of the attempted prison break.
In the July 16, 1997 edition of the Daily Times, Martinez told Harlow that his time would come.
“You’re going to die,” Martinez told Harlow almost 19 years ago. “I’m not going to go in there and kill him or have somebody try to kill him. What I meant was that God does not forget things like this. If the law does not do that to him, the Good Lord will provide.”