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  • Writer's pictureSarah Turney

Debbie Martinson

Updated: Nov 11, 2022

Listen now:

On March 31, 1980, around 7 pm, Don Martinson arrived home from jury duty and called out to his wife Debbie, but he didn’t hear a reply. Don continued to walk through the house and made his way to their 15-month-old son’s room. He was alone, crying in his crib.

Don picked up his son and walked into the adjoining primary bedroom. There, he discovered Debbie’s body near the foot of their bed. She had been strangled with a macrame cord that was still around her neck. Near Debbie’s body was a message written in pale rose lipstick on a floor-to-ceiling mirror that read, “Now we are even Don”.

It was quickly dubbed the Lipstick Murder. It remains unsolved to this day.

Anyone with information about Debbie’s case is urged to call Crime Stoppers at (877) 373-TIPS (8477)

Resources used in this episode:

Associated Press. “Girl, 12, Identifies 'Lipstick' Suspect.” Austin American-Statesman, 1 May 1980.

Associated Press. “Hemphill Said to Have Alibi.” The Kilgore News Herald, 15 Apr. 1980.

Associated Press. “Her Life Was One of Fear.” Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 7 Apr. 1980.

Associated Press. “'Lipstick Murder' Case Going to Grand Jury.” The Odessa American, 1 May 1980.

Associated Press. “Lipstick Murder Victim Lived in Fear If Alone.” San Angelo Standard-Times, 7 Apr. 1980.

Associated Press. “Lipstick Slaying Message Still Baffles Dallas Police.” El Paso Times, 16 Apr. 1980.

Associated Press. “Message Indicates Killing Was Revenge.” The Odessa American, 1 Apr. 1980.

Associated Press. “Slain Woman's Spouse Passes Polygraph Test.” Victoria Advocate, 9 Apr. 1980.

Bounds, Mary C. “'Lipstick Murder' Obsesses Victim's Father.” Dallas Morning News, 22 Feb. 1982.

Evans, Mary Candace. “Getting Away with Murder.” D Magazine, 28 Nov. 2013,

Harlan, Christi. “Neighbor: Suspect at Martinsons.” Dallas Morning News, 1 May 1980.

Harlan, Christi. “Tragedies Lurk behind Murder Statistic.” Dallas Morning News, 5 Jan. 1981.

Horn, Richard. “Even after Trial, Wife's Murder a Tragic Mystery.” Abilene Reporter-News, 20 July 1994.

Horn, Richard. “Grand Jury Indicts Paroled Rapist.” Abilene Reporter-News, 8 Apr. 1994.

“Inmate Information Details.” Texas Department of Criminal Justice Inmate Search,

Jones, Jim. “No-Bill Shocks Victim's Dad.” Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 13 May 1980.

Jones, Jim. “Rape Trial to Attract Attention.” Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 4 Nov. 1981.

Jones, Jim. “Repairman No-Billed in 'Lipstick' Murder.” Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 12 May 1980.

Morris, Jim. “Guilty Plea Entered in FW Rape.” Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 4 Feb. 1982.

Risenhoover, C.C. “Hemphill Thanks God for No-Bill.” Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 21 May 1980.

Risenhoover, C.C. “Hometown Holds Affection, Scorn for Slaying Suspect.” Fort Worth Star-Telegram , 26 Apr. 1980.

Risenhoover, C.C., and Jim Jones. “'Lipstick' Suspect Loses Round.” Fort Worth-Star Telegram, 1 May 1980.

Risenhoover, C.C., and Jim Jones. “Questions Still Linger in 'Lipstick Murder'.” Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 20 Apr. 1980.

Rutledge, John. “Woman's Body Found next to Grisly Message.” Dallas Morning News, 1 Apr. 1980.

“Slain Woman Locals' Relative.” The Gatesville Messenger and Star-Forum, 10 Apr. 1980.

Watson, Dan. “Murder Inquiry Hindered.” Dallas Morning News, 3 Apr. 1980.


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