Fresno, CA

She Sent Her Little Girls To Live Safely With Her Sister. Their Aunt Forced Them To Commit Murder Instead.

The Vivid Faces of the Vanished
Tiana Neshelle MartinThe Charley Project

In 2002, 10-year-old Tiana Nechelle Martin and her 12 and 14-year-old sisters moved in with their aunt, Tamara Lynette Robinson. The girls moved in with their aunt and her 2-year-old daughter in the 4400 block of West Avalon Avenue in Fresno, California. Their mother, Tina Jackson, lost her job and could no longer afford to take care of her children. The Fresno Bee described Tamara as a protective and caring woman.

On September 8, 2003, Tamara asked her sister-in-law to babysit while she ran some errands. The girls arrived at the home of her sister-in-law without Tiana. When she asked where Tiana was, the girls told her Tiana was out of town, The Charley Project reports.

Tamara arrived that evening to pick up the girls and asked where Tiana was. She had no idea Tiana was missing. Her sister-in-law told the group they should search for Tiana and call the police.

Tiana was reported missing at 1:30 am on September 9, 2003. Tamara told authorities the last time she saw Tiana was the previous day at 7:30 pm. She told them Tiana was unhappy about living with her and had a history of running away.

During the investigation and search for Tiana, investigators discovered that her sisters had been abused and severely beaten. In late August 2003, her sister's started school at Toby Lawless Elementary, but no one saw Tiana. Tamara told the school officials Tiana was with her mother, Tina. When she was reported missing, and authorities questioned school administrators, their school vice-principal reported that one of the girls told them Tiana was dead.

Just hours after she filed the missing person report on Tiana, authorities arrested Tamara. They charged her with two counts of felony corporal injury to a child and one count of child endangerment. While in custody, Tamara told authorities the girls were liars and insinuated that one of Tiana's sisters killed her after a fight about exercises, The Charley Project reports. Tamara eventually admitted Tiana had been missing for months and told authorities the last time she saw Tiana was on July 11, 2003.

Officials learned Tiana missed a doctor's appointment on July 11, 2003. When the office contacted her on July 14, she told them Tiana was back in the care of her mother. Tiana's sisters told investigators they witnessed Tiana's murder, and Tamara forced them to help dispose of her body. The girls told authorities Tiana was murdered in July 2003. They told investigators Tamara stripped Tiana down to her underwear and put her in a hot garage with no water. Tamara slammed her head against a wall and severely beat her with a baseball bat, a curtain rod, a meat tenderizer, and a vacuum cleaner hose until Tiana collapsed and died. They told them Tamara attempted to revive Tiana with CPR, but it was too late. She then made the girls help her dress Tiana and wrap her in a sleeping bag. Tamara kept her body in their apartment for a week. Tamara eventually wrapped Tiana's body in plastic bags, placed her in the apartment complex dumpster, and poured bleach all over her to disguise the odor of decomposition, The Charley Project reports.

“I should have been more into my kids,” their mother Tina Jackson told the Fresno Bee. “But never in a million years did I think this would happen.”

Authorities determined Tiana's body probably ended up at the American Avenue Landfill on American Avenue and Highway 145 in Fresno, California. Authorities searched the landfill for two weeks but were unable to locate Tiana's remains.

One year after she was reported missing, authorities charged Tamara with the murder of Tiana. Both of her sisters testified against Tamara at her trial.

“Tammy [Robinson] has a good heart She probably snapped caring for all those children with no help," her cousin Kimberly Jackson told the Fresno Bee.

According to the Fresno Bee, Tamara was stoic in court and never cried. The courtroom was packed with friends and relatives who she never turned to face.

In 2006, 47-year-old Tamara was convicted of second-degree murder and felony child abuse. She was acquitted of child endangerment. A judge sentenced her to 15 years to life in prison, with credit given for the three years she already served.

"I don’t have my baby, her body. I can’t put her to rest,” Tina Jackson said after the trial, reports the Fresno Bee.

Tina felt her sister, Tamara, should have been sentenced to the maximum because “my daughter got the maximum penalty. She’s not here,” she told the Fresno Bee.

The case divided family members and left them in shock.

"This is a bizarre case. It just shows good people can do awful things,” her cousin Kimberly Jackson told the Fresno Bee.

Tamara is currently in the Central California Women's Facility in Chowchilla, California. She was denied parole in 2017, 2019, and 2021.

Tiana Nechelle Martin has never been found. If you have any information, please contact the Fresno Police Department at 559-621-2441.

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