Army Pvt. Rosa Martinez Found Murdered at Fort Dix; Pvt. Jose Aponte Pleaded Guilty at Court Martial, Sentenced to 40 Years in Prison (April 11, 1987)

US Army

Army Pvt. Rosa Martinez, 21, from Elsa, Texas was found dead on April 11, 1987 at Fort Dix in New Jersey. She was attending an eight week cooking course at the base. Her body was discovered badly burned in a refuse bin on base. An autopsy report showed that she had died of strangulation after having been beaten about the head. Pvt. Jose Aponte, 18, of New Jersey was attending a truck driving training course at the base. Aponte admitted in court to knowing Martinez only by sight. The night she was killed they had shared a taxi on a return trip to base. He testified that he left the taxi with her and that when she objected to his advances, he punched her in the face and struck her in the head with a piece of brick. He tried to cover up his crimes by strangling her, throwing her in a refuse bin, and setting it on fire. Pvt. Aponte pleaded guilty to killing her after she resisted his advances. He was court-martialed, sentenced to 40 years of hard labor, and dishonorably discharged from the military.

Related Links:
Burned Body Of Female Soldier Found At Post
Charred Body of Female Soldier is Found in Refuse Bin at Fort Dix
Death Ends Her Army Dream
Army Career Was Lifelong Dream Of Slain Ft. Dix Gi
Man Held In Ft. Dix Slaying
Guardsman, 17, Held In Dix Killing
Private Is Charged in Death Of Another Soldier at Ft. Dix
N.j. Guardsman Sentenced In Killing

10 thoughts on “Army Pvt. Rosa Martinez Found Murdered at Fort Dix; Pvt. Jose Aponte Pleaded Guilty at Court Martial, Sentenced to 40 Years in Prison (April 11, 1987)

  1. I was present at Ft. Dix when this occurred. I was the AOD at Walton Army Hospitas, Ft. Dix that Saturday morning. I physically helped the Dentist place the victim in the examination chair and x-ray her teeth so they could identify the body.

  2. I was at the scene that day. The burning dumpster was reported the night before but was pushed aside because one of the MP’s was killed in a car accident and most on duty went there. In the morning it was reported again that it was smoldering so the fire department was sent and they found the body. We had thought initially that she was killed elsewhere and dumped there but while looking around I found some change and an Army Greens uniform button in a tiny stairwell at the back of the nearby building, indicating the crime scene. The nearby barracks where Aponte (the killer) was stationed were on a trip but a search warrant revealed his Dress Greens missing a button and he eventually confessed.
    While removing the remaining dumpster contents, Martinez’ ID card was found, identifying her. Aponte lifted her into the dumpster because he was too frail to drag her the distance to leave her in the woods, like he planned. He threw her ID, etc in the dumpster before he threw her in and then set it on fire. Hoping to destroy all.
    This was a tragic case from all sides.

  3. I remembered this very clearly because I was in AIT for Light Wheel Vehicle Mechanics Course (63B) at the time. I remember meeting her weeks before her death at the snack bar on post. She was very shy and and very quiet and nice as I was a bit shy myself but we talked for a while. I would see her from time to time around the post. I was shocked because it didn’t register to me that it was her that was found burning in a dumpster. I was distraught and thinking that how can someone harm such a wonderful person. I still think of her all these years and I’m glad they caught the guy afterwards. May she rest in peace.

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