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‘I’m planning my escape,’ Jennifer Martel said days before death

FREETOWN — The last time Patty Martel visited her daughter Jennifer, she cut the trip short after 48 hours, driven out by the angry rants and bizarre behavior of Jennifer’s boyfriend — Jared Remy.

Remy belittled the Martel family as “trailer trash,” ordered the women to their rooms for mandatory naps, and forbade them to eat until he declared it was time, said Patty Martel.

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She says she begged her daughter to get out of the relationship, but Jennifer wasn’t ready to take that step.

According to a series of text messages viewed by the Globe and interviews with the Martels, the 27-year-old told her mother that she wanted to leave Remy, but she worried about taking the couple’s 4-year-old daughter away from her father and providing for Arianna on her own.

“I love my daughter more than anything and choose to do what is best for her until I can find a way to do what is best for both of us,” Martel wrote to her mother. “I am not in danger or in an abuse situation. I will be fine.”

That was Feb. 28, 2013. Six months later, she was dead. Police, prosecutors, and witnesses say Remy stabbed Martel repeatedly in an attack that left a trail of blood throughout their Waltham town house and out onto the patio.

Patty and her husband, Brian, both spoke to the Globe, sharing their story with the news media for the first time since Jennifer’s death. They said they are speaking up now in the hope of educating others about the warning signs of domestic violence.

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Remy, now in jail awaiting trial on a murder charge, exhibited many of the behaviors that domestic abuse counselors and advocates urge victims and potential victims to be alert for, they said. But Martel and her parents did not see it.

“We don’t come from violence. We didn’t recognize domestic violence. We just thought he was a jerk,” Brian Martel said. Looking back, he said, “we can see the pattern.”

“It’s so clear to us now,” Patty said.

Brian and Patty Martel say that  talking about their daughter Jennifer’s death may help others  spot the warning signs of domestic violence.

Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff

Brian and Patty Martel say that talking about their daughter Jennifer’s death may help others spot the warning signs of domestic violence.

Starting as a teenager, the now 35-year-old Remy terrorized at least five different girlfriends and was arrested or charged in nearly 20 criminal cases prior to Martel’s death last August, according to a Globe investigation published in March.

The Martels did not know that history, only that Remy was a steroid user who treated Jennifer poorly and drove a wedge between her and her family. They wanted her to end the relationship as a matter of happiness, not survival, seeing their effervescent daughter worn down by the constant effort to manage Remy’s fragile emotions and quick temper.

Jennifer Martel and her daughter, Arianna.

Jennifer Martel Memorial Fund

Jennifer Martel and her daughter, Arianna.

“She used to always tell me,” Patty said, “ ‘Jared, he’s got a big bark, but he’ll calm down.’ ”

The Martels remained silent for months after the killing, wary of jeopardizing a three-way court battle for guardianship of Arianna, now 5. That case was settled by a sealed agreement this spring that called for Jennifer’s brother, Brian Jr., and his wife, Andrea, to raise Arianna with their children — the little girl’s first cousins —while granting both sets of grandparents visitation rights.

Martel’s parents described the excruciating nine months since Jennifer’s death and shed more light on her life and relationship with Remy.

Their daughter had had, they said, such promise. They spoke with pride of the party they threw in Taunton in June 2004 when Jennifer Lynn Martel — Lynn as in Loretta Lynn — became the first in the family to graduate from high school. And they spoke of the sadness they felt two years later when she opted to stay in Taunton while they, along with Brian Jr. and his family, relocated to southeastern Virginia for better employment opportunities.

Jennifer was working at the Kohl’s in Taunton and taking Bristol Community College classes when she met Remy at a barbecue. She quickly fell for the musclebound son of Jerry Remy, the celebrated Red Sox broadcaster and former major league infielder. Brian Martel said he thought his daughter was kidding when she said her new boyfriend was a Fenway Park security guard.

“Why would Jerry have a son working as a security guard when he’s got the opportunity to go to school and be whatever he wants?” said Brian.

Jennifer Martel posted a portrait from Christmas 2012 of Jared Remy, Arianna, and her on her Facebook page.

Jennifer Martel posted a portrait from Christmas 2012 of Jared Remy, Arianna, and her on her Facebook page.

When Jennifer came to visit them in Virginia in December 2007, she was clearly smitten. “They were going to Red Sox games all the time, and he seemed to be really good with her,” Patty said. She told them she was leaving school short of a degree and moving in with Remy in Waltham. That winter, she got pregnant. Though her parents wondered if she was moving too quickly, she seemed happy. But it would be her last trip south — Remy refused to accompany her on trips to visit her family and forbade her from leaving the state without him, they said.

The Martels visited their daughter about once a year after that. Remy made no secret of his distaste for them and refused to allow them to meet his own parents. “He didn’t want us to embarrass him,” Patty said, remembering Remy’s frequent critique of the Martel clan: “They’re fat, they’re gross, they’re lazy, they smoke, they smell.”

After the Globe Spotlight Team revealed in 2009 that Jared had been fired from Fenway after being snared in a Major League Baseball steroids investigation, Patty said she warned her daughter about “roid rage.” Jennifer downplayed those concerns, telling her that Jared had assured her it was a “myth.”

On separate visits, Brian and Patty said they witnessed Remy retrieve prescription painkillers — Percocet and Oxycontin — from a cabinet near the refrigerator and trade them with people who came to the door. When they raised the matter quietly with Jennifer, she told them not to make an issue of it, and they dropped it, they said.

Remy’s lawyer, Edward P. Ryan Jr., denied that Remy had dealt painkillers. Last week, a judge set Remy’s trial for Martel’s killing to begin Oct. 16.

From afar, the Martels kept up with Jennifer and Arianna over Skype, text, and Facebook. In pictures, Jennifer glowed. But over the last year of her life, they sensed her rocky relationship getting worse. At one point while Patty spoke with her daughter by phone, Remy ordered Jennifer to put the call on speaker to prove she was not talking to another man, Patty said; when he learned it was really her mother, he hurled invective at both of them.

When Patty visited last February, Remy blew up over the odor from the cigarettes she smoked on the couple’s patio. On Feb. 26, he excoriated the Martels as “trailer trash” while they watched Arianna play with her cousins at an indoor playground in Watertown, Patty said.

Back at the apartment, Remy boomed that it was “nap time,” ordering both women and Arianna to lie down in the dark for several hours; when they emerged, he refused to let Jennifer cook dinner for them until he decreed it was time for everyone to eat, Patty said.

Jennifer Martel (right) posed with her mother, Patty, and her daughter, Arianna. Referring to Jennifer, Patty says, “I think about her every single minute of the day.”

Jennifer Martel (right) posed with her mother, Patty, and her daughter, Arianna. Referring to Jennifer, Patty says, “I think about her every single minute of the day.”

When Patty and Jennifer went shopping with Arianna the next morning, Remy — who hated to let Jennifer out of his sight, except for her scheduled work and his gym visits — called Jennifer 17 times before she picked up. She broke down in a Kmart aisle, sobbing and screaming back at Remy over the phone, Patty said. “Then all of a sudden she says, ‘All right, Mom, we’ve got to get you out fast.’ ”

Back at the apartment, Jennifer pulled Patty’s damp clothes from the washer, stuffed them into a plastic bag, and urged her to leave before Remy returned from a workout, Patty said. Brian Jr., who was also in the Boston area visiting family, picked up Patty in his truck and offered to get a U-Haul trailer and take Jennifer and Arianna as well. Jennifer declined, and did so again by text when Patty repeated the offer the next day.

“I need to see [if] I can get him help first. I talk with his family to see what we can do. he is Ariannas father and I need to do this for her,” Jennifer texted.

“I just want you to be happy you don’t deserve this,” Patty typed back. “Arianna loves him but as she [gets] older she going to see what he really is... Sometimes you can’t change someone like that ... He has a bad control on you.”

“I not going to let him control me,” Jennifer replied. “I have help here. jareds parents wants what is best for Arianna and they know jared is a mess.”

“I cant handle another blowout like the other day,” she added. “i am emotional exhausted.”

Through the spring, they continued to text occasionally about Jennifer’s future without Remy, sprinkled amid messages about daily life — the Red Sox, a secret admirer at Market Basket, Jennifer’s excitement over finishing an online associate’s degree and getting accepted at Framingham State as a transfer student.

They spoke by phone on Monday, Aug. 12. “She said, ‘Mom, don’t worry; I’m planning my escape,’ ” Patty said.

But that was the last word between them. Patty would only learn later about the next night, when Remy allegedly slammed Jennifer’s head into a bathroom mirror and was arrested for assault. Likewise, she was unaware that Jennifer stayed home from court the next morning, on the 14th, rather than extend an emergency restraining order, or that a judge allowed Remy to walk after prosecutors did not seek bail or a dangerousness hearing.

“Jennifer was probably too afraid to tell us,” she said.

That Thursday night, Andrea called to let Patty know Jennifer had changed her Facebook relationship status to “complicated.” Patty thought about calling but knew her daughter had to get up at dawn for work. That was just before 9, around the time police say they drew their guns on a shirtless Remy, his hands in the air covered in blood.

After midnight, an unfamiliar number buzzed on Patty’s phone: Kristina Hill, one of two neighbors who witnessed the killing.

Do you have a daughter named Jennifer? she asked.

Yes, Patty said, and Hill asked her, please, to sit down.

The rest is a blur, Patty said. Patty called Brian, on the overnight shift at the Sysco warehouse. “I couldn’t breathe,” he said. “I couldn’t stand up.”

They drove all night to Massachusetts, didn’t eat for two days.

They would make many of those 12-hour drives, though now they rent a bungalow in East Freetown. There, Patty dabs herself with Jennifer’s Lucky Brand perfume and draws deep breaths from a quilt sewn out of Jennifer’s T-shirts and jeans, trying to hold on to the fading smell of her daughter. Brian, who once took 13-year-old Jennifer on a father-daughter date to an ’N Sync concert, drives without the radio on, every song a painful reminder of how Jennifer — along with Arianna — loved to croon pop and country hits.

They are angry at the court system and the Middlesex prosecutors who did not hold Remy last summer or in his numerous previous brushes with the law, but they are mostly forgiving of his family. They know the Remys loved Jennifer and Arianna; Patty thinks they simply misjudged Jared, believing their son had stabilized after several years without a violent arrest.

“I don’t know,” Brian said. “I know they know their son’s past. . . . I think there should’ve been more caution taken.”

Though they understand why the Remys wanted guardianship of Arianna, they wished they had not pressed the case. The custody battle meant the girl spent seven months in state care and grew attached to her foster mother — bringing another kind of loss after the trauma of witnessing her mother get killed, Patty said.

Last Sunday, Patty’s sister gave the child a framed photo of Patty and Jennifer — when Jennifer was Arianna’s age — to present to Patty for Mother’s Day. “Memories live in our hearts forever,” the frame says. They went to a local park to release balloons for Jennifer, encouraging Arianna to picture her mother receiving them in the sky.

After sending Arianna to preschool the next day, Patty and Brian looked through a memory box, reflecting on how Jennifer always saw the best in people, sometimes to her own detriment. “It’s just hard to talk about it,” Brian said, looking away. “You want to cry.”

“There’s some days I can talk about it, and other days you bring up Jennifer and I just want to die,” Patty said. “I think about her every single minute of the day.”

Patty and Brian Martel say Jennifer saw the best in people — sometimes to her detriment.

SuzanneKreiter/Globe Staff

Patty and Brian Martel say Jennifer saw the best in people — sometimes to her detriment.

Eric Moskowitz can be reached at emoskowitz@globe.com.

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