Left and Center: Martha circa 1985
Right: Age Progressed to age 29
Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance
Missing Since: November 27, 1985
Missing From: Elkton, St Johns County, Florida
Classification: Non-Family Abduction
Date Of Birth: March 26, 1973
Age: 12 years old
Weight: 70 pounds
Hair Color: Blonde
Eye Color: Blue
Distinguishing Characteristics: Martha has birthmarks on her upper left chest and on the front of her right thigh, Martha’s upper front teeth slightly protrude
NCMEC Number: 601793
Details of Disappearance
Martha Jean Lambert was last seen on November 27th 1985 from Elkton, Florida. That day, she went to her classes at the Ketterlinus Junior High School and when her classes concluded she went to a friends house after school and stayed there until 7:30 pm when she started to walk home alone. She has never been seen or heard from again.
Martha’s family members all have varying statements about what occurred that night. Her mother, Margaret Ann Lambert, stated that she and Martha were at a social gathering when Martha said “mom, I’m going over, I’ll be back in 5 minutes”. She apparently left and never returned.
Martha’s family reported her missing at 3:00 am when no one could locate her. The people who lived on Kerri-Lynn Road were questioned that night, some reported that they saw Martha walking west on Kerri-Lynn Road later that night. Others reported seeing an unidentified green vehicle passing through the area when Martha went missing.
Police initially treated Martha’s case as that of a runaway but soon concluded that she likely didn’t leave on her own accord. Her mother believes that Lambert was abducted while she was outside that night and some officers still hold that theory. Many agencies continue to classify Lambert as a non family abduction.
Lambert’s family life was troubled, her father and mother often fought in the home and her two brothers, David and Raymond, at one point ran away. The Lambert children have also spent time in foster homes due to child abuse and other home problems.
Authorities suspected that Martha’s brother, David, knew more about her disappearance then he was letting on. When Martha was reported missing and authorities questioned the boy, he gave three different stories of what he saw that night. He at one point stated he saw the girl entering a black vehicle, another time he said he saw her walking out of their home after they had a dinner together.
In August of 2009, David confessed to accidentally killing Martha on the day she vanished. He stated that he and Martha left their house after their father got into a rage over burnt turkey. He stated that they went to a convenience store where Martha spent a little over $4 out of $20 and gave him the change.
He stated that he and Martha got into a fight because Martha wanted another $20 but he denied her. He stated that Martha slapped him in the face and in response he pushed her. She apparently fell and hit her head on a piece of steel and was killed. David tried to call for help but no one came. He buried her body with the broken piece of a road sign and apparently went home.
Investigators believed that David was telling the truth as he was clearly upset and grief filled when confessing. Authorities searched the land where Martha was apparently buried but did not find her remains. It may have been moved or scattered as demolition occurred in the years after she vanished.
Martha’s mother does not believe that David was responsible for his sisters disappearance and still believes she may have been kidnapped. Authorities have since closed her case but stated it can be reopened in the future. David also once confessed to causing Martha’s death in 2000 and burying her in a Coquina Mine but investigators did not locate Martha’s remains at that time. David has since recanted the confession and says he doesn’t know where Martha is or what happened to her.
At the time of Martha’s disappearance, she was a 7th grader at Ketterlinus Junior High School and had a few friends at the time of her disappearance. Her school grades were considered poor but she was said to be a good student. She was described as a trusting person who liked country music, fried potatoes, soccer, and going to church on Sunday’s. Her mother stated that despite the house troubles, she would never runaway and wouldn’t even get into a friends car without permission. She was close to her mother and her two brothers. Her father, Howard, has since died and her brothers and mother live in Florida still.
Martha’s case remains unsolved. Foul play is suspected in her case and authorities believe that Lambert is no longer alive. Several possible suspects and persons of interest have been questioned regarding Martha’s disappearance but no arrests have ever been made in her disappearance. Some agencies continue to classify her as an endangered runaway. She has never been located.
If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
St. John’s County Sheriffs Office 904-824-8304