Last week, the Fresno Bee reported that the notorious contract killer “Mano Negro,” who confessed to killing 34 people in twelve states was arrested and in custody.
Since 1980, Jose Manuel Martinez, a.k.a. the Black Hand, was known for killing for “financial gain,” according to Tulare County Superior Court documents. Almost half of his alleged murders were carried out in California, with 14 alleged killings linked to the Golden State, from San Diego to Tulare County. The Bee reported that in a news conference with Tulare County District Attorney Tim Ward, it was revealed that six of those slayings allegedly happened in Tulare County, two in Kern County, and another occurred in Santa Barbara County.
The Bee reported that no one even knew what Mano Negro looked like until he was captured. Moreover, if it is proven he committed his confessed slayings, he will go down as one of the most prolific murderers in history–joining the iniquitous group of Gary Ridgway, the Green River Killer, who it is believed to have slain as many as 90, 49 of whom were from Washington State. Ted Bundy and John Wayne Gacy each murdered more than 30 people.
One alleged victim of Martinez was Jose Urquieta’s uncle. Jose recounted that his uncle was a good man with and had a positive attitude about life. Jose explained that his uncle use to “hang around with a guy who was up to no good. My uncle was with some of his friends, they took him out to the middle of nowhere, I don’t know why.”
Jose’s uncle was murdered that day. Jose remembers that the name “Mano Negro” surfaced when someone was killed in the small farming town of Delano in Kern County, where his Uncle harvested almonds to make ends meet. “I heard about him even before my uncle was murdered. We didn’t know who he was, but we knew he killed for money.” Jose believes the Black Hand got away with not being caught for so long because he looked like “an ordinary guy.”
According to Tim McWhorter of the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office in Alabama, Mano Negro slipped up in a homicide that he committed in Alabama, where Martinez admitted to a reporter that it got personal. McWhorter said he used his old school southern charm and treated Martinez with respect to coerce an admission of guilt regarding the slaying.
McWhorter explained that Mano Negro cooperated: “You have been very respectful and I appreciate that.’ He looked at the floor again and said, ‘You want me to tell you the truth? Yeah, I killed the son of a bitch.'” The sheriff told investigators that Mano Negro was a collector for the Mexican Cartel and got 25% of the debt he collected and the rest went to the cartel.”