Body of Md. parole agent found under bed wrapped in plastic bags, charging documents say

The body of a Maryland parole agent who was allegedly killed while conducting a routine visit last month was found wrapped in plastic and left underneath a bed.

That’s according to charging documents filed against Emanuel Edward Sewell, 54, who is being charged with first-degree murder in the killing of 33-year-old Davis Martinez. Sewell was arrested after being taken into custody in West Virginia earlier this month.

Sewell’s defense attorney waived his bond hearing on Monday, and a Rockville judge ordered he continue to be held without bond.

“We as a community owe a responsibility to protect all public safety individuals who are trying to keep us safe in the community,” said John McCarthy, state’s attorney for Montgomery County. “If they’re going out there doing work for us, we as a community have to work comprehensively to make sure that we see that they’re safe when they’re doing their job.”

Martinez was a parole agent who was tasked with visiting Sewell’s Chevy Chase apartment to verify that he lived at his listed address. Just before 6 p.m. on May 31, Martinez’s co-workers grew concerned after he never returned to work from a visit to Sewell’s apartment in the 2800 block of Terrace Drive, according to charging documents.

After arriving at the apartment, Montgomery County police officers could hear the ping of Martinez’s cellphone coming from a dumpster nearby. Martinez’s car, a white Ford Taurus, was also parked outside.

“Officers forced entry to the front door of 2815 Terrace Drive, and found an unresponsive male wrapped in multiple plastic bags underneath a bed,” according to charging documents.

Martinez’s body was found in the fetal position underneath a bed. A bloodied towel was near the front door, according to charging documents.

In the charging documents, authorities said it wasn’t clear how Martinez was killed.

Prosecutors said Martinez had been stabbed and had wounds to his head, lungs, neck and eye. He also had bruising and swelling to the face.

A neighbor told investigators that someone knocked on Sewell’s door around 9 a.m. and that a white Ford Taurus — Martinez’s vehicle — was parked outside.

She said Sewell exited his apartment around 2 p.m. and walked near the dumpsters, where Martinez’s phone was found. He went back inside before leaving again, this time with two clear trash bags stuffed with clothes. The witness saw Sewell drive away.

Police searched for Sewell, and he was taken into custody by U.S. Marshals Task Force officers after a traffic stop on Interstate 64 in West Virginia on June 1 at around 5 p.m. — a day after the killing.

Suspect was out on parole from 1996 sex assault

Online court records show Sewell was charged with first- and second-degree sex offenses and first-degree burglary in November of 1996 relating to the brutal sexual assault of a young man in Montgomery County.

He was under supervised release after finishing his prison sentence in 2021. The Washington Post reported that Sewell broke into a young physicist’s apartment on Oct. 18, 1996. The man woke up to Sewell threatening him with a knife in hand. Sewell tied up the man’s arms and legs, gagged his mouth and raped him. Sewell cited his drug addiction as a partial explanation of why he attacked a stranger, the Post reported.

He was sentenced to 40 years and served 24.

Sewell was previously referred to by news outlets as a registered sex offender, however he is not on Maryland’s sex offender registry. Prosecutors said his crime in 1996 did not fit the criteria at the time.

Questions remain over the motive in Martinez’s killing.

“I do not believe that this was a sexual offense of the same nature that led him to go to prison,” McCarthy said. “This was a violent attack on the agent who was doing the residence check.”

Initially, Sewell was arraigned on a second-degree murder charge but prosecutors said Monday that his charge was upgraded to first-degree murder based on additional information unveiled during the homicide investigation.

Sewell’s next court appearance is scheduled for July 5.

Questions raised over parole agents’ safety

In response to Martinez’s death, in-home visits by parole and probation agents have been temporarily suspended, WTOP’s partners at Maryland Matters reported. Union leaders who represent state parole and probation agents have claimed Martinez’s death was preventable, and called for the firing of Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services Secretary Carolyn J. Scruggs.

“We are always concerned for our public servants in any kind of a situation where they go out there,” McCarthy said. “I do not know, and I’m not gonna speak to the procedures that are in place to protect these agents when they go to the individual homes. I will just really say it is always a concern for us.”

Maryland Matters reported three leaders within the state’s Division of Parole and Probation, including Director Martha Danner and Deputy Director Walter Nolley, have been replaced since Martinez’s death.

Bobbie Joe Fockler will replace Danner and will serve as interim director of parole and probation.

“The Department will conduct a search to identify the best candidates to fill these important leadership roles,” Public Safety and Correctional Services Secretary Carolyn Scruggs said in an internal memo obtained by Maryland Matters. “In the interim, new leadership has been appointed in an acting capacity. During this transition period, we remain committed to maintaining the highest standards of public safety and service.”

Gov. Wes Moore ordered that flags be flown at half-mast on June 1 in honor of Martinez, who he said is the first Maryland parole agent allegedly killed by a client while on duty.

WTOP’s Sandra Jones reported from Maryland District Court. WTOP’s news partners at Maryland Matters contributed to this report.

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Jessica Kronzer

Jessica Kronzer graduated from James Madison University in May 2021 after studying media and politics. She enjoys covering politics, advocacy and compelling human-interest stories.

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