Javier Gonzalez Garcia


LOWGAP — A Surry County man was charged with murder on Saturday after authorities discovered human remains believed to be those of another Surry County man who went missing last August.

Surry County Sheriff Steve Hiatt said authorities executed a search warrant at 321 Bowtie Lane on Saturday. During the search, detectives located human remains buried on the property that are believed to be those of Michael Dean Martin, who went missing in August of 2018. He was 35 years old.

Surry County detectives arrested Javier Gonzalez Garcia, 47, who lived on the property, and charged him with the murder of Martin. Garcia was being held in the Surry County Detention Center with no bond allowed.

Cynthia Martin, the mother of the man whose body was apparently found, said she’s still waiting to hear from authorities on how and why her son died.

Mike Martin and Garcia knew each other well, the mother said.

“He worked on and off for (Garcia) about two years,” Cynthia Martin said. “They went out of town working on carports.”

Martin said her son had helped build a patio at Garcia’s house.

Martin raises three of her son’s five children, who are having a hard time coming to terms with their father’s death, she said.

Mike Martin had struggles during his life with drugs, a spotty work record and run-ins with the law, his mother told the Journal last summer. But he never went more than a couple days without calling or texting his mother. She had told him to do so because she didn’t want to worry.

The mother said she met with Garcia at Brintle’s Travel Plaza last summer, after her son went missing, sitting down to talk to the man who had told her that he had dropped off her son at the truck stop on Aug. 18.

“He said that ‘Michael was my best friend,’ and had tears in his eyes,” Cynthia Martin said in a Sunday night interview. “The word ‘was’ made me wonder. The way he acted sounded so fishy to me. I said, ‘He knows something.’”

Authorities involved in the search at Garcia’s residence included members of the Surry County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team along with members of the Mount Airy Police Crisis Management Team and the SBI.

Authorities have sent the human remains to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center for an autopsy and positive identification.

Cynthia Martin said she learned only Saturday that authorities had found what they believe to be the remains of her son.

Last year, the mother told the Journal she thought her son was dead, even though she had not given up hope. She said her son was doing pretty well the last time she saw him.

“I’ve got closure for sure if it is him,” Cynthia Martin said, adding that she had already prepared the children for the worst. “I’m more concerned with the kids, to make sure they are where they need to be.

Authorities have not yet shared with her what they think happened between her son and the suspect, the victim’s mother said.

“They said they would sit down with the whole family and answer my questions,” she said.

The sheriff said the investigation is ongoing, Hiatt said.

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wyoung@wsjournal.com 336-727-7369 @wyoungWSJ

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