What Happened To Martha Jean Lambert?

I wanna give a shout out to my friend Joseph Schmidt who runs the facebook page for this case as well as runs The Resource Center For Cold Case Missing Children's Cases for suggesting this case to me. He also helps me run my private facebook group. Joseph co-wrote this entry. 



"We were not only mother and daughter, we were best friends," said her mother, Margaret Pichon

St. Johns County Sheriff's Office 904-824-8304

Agency Case Number: 271329
NCMEC #: NCMC601793
NCIC Number: M-293192969

Personal Information

Date of Birth:

03/26/1973 to Howard and Margaret Lambert 

(Howard was 73 at the time Martha went missing. Margaret was 33. Howard has since passed away.)

Missing Since:

11/27/1985 (12 at the time)

Missing From:

Elkton, Florida (Presumably last seen walking down Kerri Lynn Rd.)

Height and Weight:

4'5, 70 pounds

Hair and Eyes:

Blond & Blue


Short Sleeved Summer Dress sometimes described as a 2 Piece Bathing Suit

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Birthmarks on the front of her Right Thigh and on her Chest. (Left side) 2 Front Teeth protrude. Mole on Left Collar Bone.



Charley Project

Charley Project Blog Entry


Doe Network


True Crime Diva


ABC News article

Life Daily article

Background on Martha

Martha Jean Lambert was born on March 26th 1973 to Howard and Martha Lambert. Martha had a troubled home life. Her father was an alcoholic and she was in and out of several foster homes due to being neglected and abused. (She was often described as dirty in appearance) There was constant fighting in the home. Lots of screaming and arguments. Her two brothers had run away from their home prior to Martha disappearing. Martha was a 7th Grader at Ketterlinus Jr. High and living off Kerri Lynn Rd in Elkton, Florida at the time she vanished. She was described as a normal kid her age. She had few friends but was described as a friendly young girl. Her case , Like many others of that time was initially investigated as a runaway. However Law Enforcement believes Martha did not leave willingly. At the time she went missing the case was being investigated as a non familiar abduction case. It has since been considered closed.

Another neighbor said it wasn't unusual to hear Howard Lambert yelling inside the trailer, adding there was "lots of anger in that family."


Details of Disappearance  

November 27th 1985  

Note: There are many different versions as to what occurred the day Martha disappeared. When I initially looked into this case the newspaper clippings available were virtually useless regarding the day in question. Most just gave Martha's physical description and where she was last seen. Most of the details come from the articles written after her brother David confessed in 2000 to killing her. More on that a little later. 

Prior on the day of her disappearance Martha left school and visited with friends at a neighbors home for an undisclosed amount of time. Some articles I read say she stayed until around 7:30 pm. After that she walked to her home off Kerri Lynn Rd. where she and her family lived in a mobile home. She had a small dinner and then left her residence. According to one account she was walking down Kerri Lynn Rd. and was never heard from again. In one of several stories told by her brother David. She left and would not disclose where she was going. David also stated she entered a black vehicle the night she disappeared. In one story told by her mom, Martha said she was going over to a neighbors house and she would be back in 5 minutes. Once Margaret realized that Martha was gone longer than she should have been. She went looking for her. She was reported missing that night. The immediate area was searched. Neighbors and local residents were questioned.  In one sighting a neighbor stated they saw her walking down Kerri Lynn Rd. Some neighbors also reported seeing a Green Van in the area that was acting suspiciously. The residents in the neighborhood did not know of anyone who owned, Nor did they recognize the Van as being from around the area. Law Enforcement initially investigated the case as a runaway. However, Margaret has always believed her daughter was abducted by a non family member.

                  David Lambert 

In 2000 Law Enforcement officials at the St. John's County Sheriff's Office were questioning Martha Jean Lambert's brother David regarding a bad check he had written. At one point in the interview David changed the subject of the conversation to his missing sister Martha. He confessed to killing his sister. Not much is known about this confession however. He did say she was buried in the Coquina Mine Shaft off Holmes Blvd. Her body was not found in that location. In August of 2009, David admitted to killing his sister during an interview about her disappearance since her case had been reopened in June of that year. On November 13th of 2009 he was questioned again. And again he confessed to killing Martha. He stated on the day Martha disappeared they were both near the old Florida College Memorial Site and they had got into an argument over $20. David stated Martha had punched him in the face and he had pushed her in retaliation. The result of the push caused Martha to fall back and onto the ground where she struck her head. According to David she died as a result. He said he tried yelling for help but no one came. In a panic he buried his sister in a 3 foot hole he had dug near where she died. He later recanted both confessions. The 2009 Confession video is below. He later stated he was giving the detectives what they wanted to hear. His mother didn't believe him either. She stated David was prone to making up stories to get attention. The area where David stated the incident occurred was searched and partially dug up after his first confession. No remains were found. An interesting aspect to the case is that the night Martha went missing Margaret stated that David came out of their house laughing. When she asked what he was laughing about. He wouldn't tell her. She stated she is still bothered by that to this day. David Lambert has never been charged with his sister's murder. Nor has any remains ever been found. Prior to David's confession the area was bulldozed and completely rebuilt. Decreasing the odds even more of ever finding Martha. If we are to believe David's account. Even if he hadn't recanted his confessions. Due to his age at the time and the Statute of Limitations, No charges could be filed for manslaughter.  Martha remains missing.

The Miami Herald: January 3rd 2010

David Lambert Interview: November 13th 2009

Saint Augustine Record

Missing: 19 years later, cold case baffles detectives

Staff Writer

Published Sunday, November 28, 2004

The mother is convinced her 12-year-old daughter, Martha Jean Lambert, was abducted from the street outside her St. Augustine house 19 years and one day ago.

An investigator who has studied the case is almost as sure that the little girl is dead, possibly killed on the day she disappeared.

Both want to know what happened to Martha, a happy little girl who, on the day she disappeared, was looking forward to visiting relatives, her family remembers.

"We were not only mother and daughter, we were best friends," said her mother, Margaret Pichon.

People who knew her also said Martha was a girl who was friendly but always dirty, a victim of screaming abuse at home, a little girl with an odd family. A neighbor said her brothers "were kind of strange." Her father, an alcoholic, was 74 at the time of her disappearance. Her mother was 33.

Since she has been missing, her father has died, her mother has had two nervous breakdowns and one of her brothers now goes by the name Cynthia Jean Lambert.

Investigator Chuck West, a major at the St. John's County Sheriff's Office, is searching for clues to solve the mystery of what happened to Martha, who would be 31 today.

The cold case doesn't get daily attention, but does get scrutiny every few years.

"There is a strong possibility she was the victim of a homicide at the hands of someone close to her," West said last week.

To this day, missing persons posters of Martha hang at highway rest areas and on bulletin boards throughout the region. Her dental records and description are registered in national databases.

Martha Jean Lambert, a 12-year-old Ketterlinus Junior High School seventh-grader, disappeared 19 years ago from her mobile home on Kerri Lynn Road.

Martha disappeared from her home on Kerri Lynn Road off Holmes Boulevard the day before Thanksgiving, Nov. 27, 1985. It is the oldest missing persons case in the county.

The blond, blue-eyed girl was last seen at dusk walking from her family's trailer wearing a two-piece bathing suit. It was an average November day, not rainy, not cold.

Martha was 4-foot, 8-inches and weighed 70 pounds.

Those involved don't agree on much of the rest of the story. The family members each have different ideas. The detectives also have varying theories.

"In this case, witness statements aren't reliable," West said. The dysfunctional family relationships hurt the investigation, he added.

Abuse played a role in the Lambert's family life, West said.

After 19 years, some of the details are fuzzy for the family, but the feelings remain the same. Martha's mother, grandmother and aunt all spoke last week on the eve of 19th anniversary of Martha's disappearance about the girl they loved so dearly.

After Martha disappeared, the family was torn apart. Pichon, recently remarried and formerly Margaret Lambert, said after Martha was gone, fighting increased between her and her husband, Martha's father, Howard Lambert.

"It broke her dad and I up," Pichon said Friday. "He was too much into alcohol."

Pichon's two sons, both older than Martha, have been in trouble with the law.

The extended family was devastated.

The father died while still living on Kerri Lynn Road some years after the disappearance. Pichon couldn't remember exactly what year he died. She now lives in Danville, Ill. She left her husband before he died.

Martha's older brothers, David Lambert and Raymond Lambert, are in Florida. David was last known to be in East Palatka and Raymond in Orlando.

In 2002, the Sheriff's Office received a tip that Martha's body may be buried by State Road 207. They used radar equipment to search the area, but found nothing. Construction may have covered the grave, if there is one.

Pichon, now 52, didn't understand why the deputies searched the family's backwoods for Martha. She was sure her daughter was taken from the area.

"The only thing they found back there was dead dogs," Pichon said.

Martha's mother is upset about the way the Sheriff's Office handled the case.

"I still remember her last words, 'Mom, I'm going over, I'll be back in five minutes,' " Pichon said late last week in a telephone interview.

Pichon was at a neighbor's house with her daughter for a social gathering shortly before the girl disappeared.

She would not have run away, Pichon said, and she would never even get in a friend's car without permission.

When Martha didn't return to the social, her mother went looking for her. When she walked up to the family trailer, her son walked out laughing, she said.

"It bothers me that my youngest boy wouldn't tell me what he was laughing about," Pichon said.

She said both the boys were devastated when Martha didn't come back.

"Raymond kept saying, 'I hope Martha comes home soon. I hope they find her,' " Pichon said.

West interviewed Martha's brother, David Lambert, the night she disappeared. He was 14 at the time.

First the teenager told the Sheriff's Office that he saw Martha get into a black vehicle. The story didn't hold, West said. He then said he last saw her walking down the street to go to the Lil' Champ on State Road 207.

"He was covering or protecting something," West said.

Pichon agrees her son may know something he has never been able to say. She fears he may have been threatened by the people who abducted her daughter.

Alan Godby, 46, lives two trailers down from the Lambert's old home. He helped scour the thick brush behind the mobile homes that extended to S.R. 207 for four days.

He remembers Martha spent lots of time at friend's houses in the neighborhood.

"She was friendly," he paused. "Her brothers were kind of strange."

The neighbors in the area all knew each other. If someone was trying to take her, she could have run to any of the homes, Godby said.

Godby is the only neighbor from 1985 still living on Kerri Lynn Road.

"She wasn't really happy at home and she never had clean clothes to wear," he said as he looked to where the old trailer used to be. A different mobile home sits at the bend in the road in its place.

Godby didn't know Martha's mother, but remembers being able to hear her father yelling inside the house. "Lots of anger in that family," he said.

Sgt. Mike Quintieri interviewed Martha's brother about four years ago. "Until she is no longer a missing person, no one can put it behind themselves," he said.

David Lambert, 33, of East Palatka, called the Sheriff's Office in 2000 wanting to talk about Martha.

"I seen her walk off into the dark," David Lambert said in the interview with the Sheriff's Office. He was the last person to see her that day and she still lingers vividly in his mind. The two were close, he said.

He was on probation for drug charges at the time of the interview.

"I was just partying every night, trying not to think about it," David Lambert said.

Their mother said, "David was just so protective over her. I don't know why he couldn't have kept her from being kidnapped."

Raymond Lambert, 34, is the oldest of the three siblings. His now signs his name Cynthia Jean Lambert. Where he was on the day Martha disappeared is not clear. His mother said he was at church, his brother told detectives in 2000 that he doesn't remember.

Martha has extended family living in St. Johns County. Her grandmother, Anna Jones, and her aunt, Cheryl Elliot, both said they think about her every day.

Martha was shy, loved church, always wore a smile and was a good student, they both said. She wouldn't have run off, they agreed.

"Martha Jean was happy being home," Elliot said. "She never had no problems."

Elliot remembers Martha being excited about Thanksgiving. The family was going to spend the day at Jones' house.

"I even dream about that child," Elliot said. "Deep in my heart I'm hoping she's still alive."

After Martha disappeared, Pichon said she got a call with a girl's voice, saying "Mom, I'm O.K.," but it didn't sound like Martha.

Pichon dreams of her daughter. Visions of Martha in a warehouse yelling for help appeared shortly after the disappearance. Her more recent dreams of Martha show her living in California near lakes.

Pichon went through stages of wondering what she did wrong, remembering her daughter and blaming others.

She moved from St. Johns County in 1990 to start over. She wanted to be able to think of her daughter as staying with a relative. She also left so her sons would be more independent, Pichon said.

Three times since she moved she has come back to the area. Her sons still call to check in, but she hasn't heard from them in about five months.

"They were sort of lost without her," Pichon said. "She was a peacekeeper between the two of them."

Pichon keeps a picture of her daughter around a favorite mug. Anther cup has the age progressed photo of Martha. Soccer, singing, country music, fried potatoes, spaghetti are reminders of her daughter's favorite things.

The Sheriff's Office gets reports of a few hundred missing persons each year, West said.

"We've spent hundreds and hundreds of man hours on this case," West said. "It has been worked on by at least half a dozen detectives."

Most missing persons cases are resolved with in a few hours or at least a few weeks. Martha is one of three that remains open.

"The case is bizarre," West said.

Today, Martha may be a mom herself, or she may be buried beneath the dirt still in St. Johns County.

Quintieri said, "The sad part is she is still somewhere."

Missing Cold Case Of Martha Jean Lambert Finally Solved After 25 Years

Link To Original Article

It happens far too often, a child goes missing and despite the best efforts of the police, neighbors, and sometimes even the nation at large, he or she is never found. Such was the case for poor Martha Jean Lambert.

Martha Jean disappeared in November of 1985, and for decades, her mother, brother, and their community wondered what had happened to her. Recently, however, some new evidence has come to light that may finally reveal what happened to Martha Jean once and for all…
Despite an exhaustive search, the police were unable to track down Martha Jean Lambert or her supposed abductor. To this day, the disappearance remains the county’s longest-running missing person investigation. Twenty five years passed and the Lamberts lives’ changed dramatically. Margaret and her husband divorced, and David grew up and moved on, though he was never the same.
The one day, David Lambert showed up at the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office with a startling bit of news. He had seen what happened to his Martha Jean that night but had been afraid to come forward to discuss it for the past two decades. Now 38 years old, David had gone through life holding onto a terrible secret: a secret that no one had expected…As he sat down to tell the story and the detectives opened up Martha Jean’s folder, her picture stared up at him. Overcome with grief, David Lambert began to bawl and explain the true events of that fateful Thanksgiving. He and Martha Jean had indeed gone out to get some air. They’d gone to a store, bought some candy, and went to play at the old college.David Lambert then told them he and Martha Jean had taken to arguing while on the campus. Though he had already given her $20 to spend, she wanted more and he refused to give it. The 12-year-old, overcome by hormones, disappointment and stress, lashed out and punched her brother in the face…David too had been overcome that day and shoved his sister backward in response. Before he could reach out to catch her, Martha Jean fell down, hitting her head on a jagged piece of rusty metal sticking out of the ground behind her. In an instant, David knew what had happened. His sister’s skull had become impaled by the metal spike. Martha Jean Lambert was dead.He pulled her up and blood came pouring out the back of her head. David screamed, calling out for someone to help him, to help Martha. But no one was out on Thanksgiving besides them. Using a broken piece of sign David dug a three-foot hole not far from where she had fallen. He gently laid her on her back in the shallow grave, then made his way home…Despite his assertion that the confession is the whole truth, authorities have had no success in locating Martha Jean’s remains anywhere near the old college campus. The site has of course been demolished more than once over the past 25 years, on account of it being unsafe for neighborhood children to play in…so it’s unlikely they will find any remains.Meanwhile, Margaret Pichon (her new name), David’s mother, remains unconvinced by the alarming confession. According to her, David is known for “making up tales” in order to get attention and has been doing so since his sister’s disappearance all those years ago. The police investigators, however, believe that David is telling the truth at last…David Lambert was only 15 when his sister disappeared, but as the last person to have seen her alive, was always a prime suspect. When the officers looked back into some of the old case files, they found what may have been a confession from about eight years prior to the 2010 confession. Unfortunately, there was no hard evidence, so no arrest could be made.As it turns out, it wasn’t the detectives or the consequences that had kept David silent all these years, but rather his mother’s rage. If he had admitted to accidentally killing his sister at the tender age of 15, he was certain his mother would kill him too. That she would never forgive him. Now that he had come clean, though, there would have to be consequences…After some careful deliberation, the State Attorney’s Office decided not charge David Lambert with manslaughter. There were a number of factors based on mitigating circumstances that were present at the time: his age and the statute of limitations on a manslaughter charge were among them. Besides, there was still no evidence of any wrongdoing.Regardless of his signed and witnessed confession, there was no evidence that the boy had actually killed his sister. This may have also been the fault of the investigators on the scene, who failed to properly examine every inch of the college campus at the time. Still, there is no denying that the police department and attorney consider David Lambert to be his sister’s killer…Over the course of the 25-year investigation, the police had spent a total of 20 hours interviewing David Lambert and had simply been unable to get him to crack. It speaks to the young man’s resolve, but also to his guilt over what he had done. It couldn’t have been easy living with that knowledge for over two decades.

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