Brother recounts sister's disappearance

When Jacqueline Martarella's body was found, on April 22, 1985, newspaper stories described her as having been timid and withdrawn.

That was true, said her older brother, Martin Martarella, 47, in a recent interview with Newsday, but hardly summed up the young woman with whom he'd grown up.

Their mother had died five years before, of cancer. Soon after, he said, their father left the Lindenhurst home where they'd been raised to live in Oceanside.

"Everything changed for us," Martarella said.

Later, the two went to live with their father. Martin Martarella got construction and roofing jobs and spent as much time working as he could; Jacqueline Martarella, he says, turned inward.

She graduated from Oceanside High School in 1984. The yearbook's index lists her as a concert choir member but she doesn't appear in the choir photograph. On a page where graduating seniors listed favorite quotations and parting words - some irreverent, some peculiar as only inside jokes can be - she wrote: "Life is what you make it. Make the best of it!"

The newspaper stories after her death didn't mention that Jacqueline Martarella sometimes hitchhiked back to Lynbrook to see friends, something Martin Martarella didn't know until the police told him. He did know she was working at fast food restaurants to save money to buy a car.

"I didn't want her to be at the mercy of someone else for rides all the time," Martarella said. "She was going to buy that white Camaro. She had almost $2,000 saved up."

In a Newsday story that ran shortly after her body was discovered, naked and strangled near the 17th hole of the Woodmere Country Club, her boss at Burger King in Oceanside said the job had done "wonders for her. She opened up. . . . She could take a joke and give one, too."

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