Newly engaged, with a list of goals that could fill five lifetimes, 35-year-old Wendy Martinez, an ambitious Washington, D.C., woman, was on her after-work run when it all came to an end.
Six months later, Martinez’s fiancé is coping with the shock of the loss as he vows to fulfill a major goal she couldn’t reach: running the Boston Marathon.
A brutal attack
Martinez was running in D.C.’s bustling Logan Circle neighborhood on Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018, when she was stabbed seven times in the face, neck and back, in an unprovoked attack by a stranger, according to court documents.
Surveillance video showed Martinez alerting others around her about the danger, authorities said.
Officials said she stumbled into a restaurant after the attack where customers tried, unsuccessfully, to save her life.
“She did nothing to deserve this,” her mother, Cora Martinez, told ABC News Friday, overcome with emotion. “Her faith, her passion for people and her determination to reach her goals … She was full of life, full of dreams. A person that really wanted to enjoy life even more. And she couldn’t.”
Suspect Anthony Crawford was arrested two days later and charged with first-degree murder while armed, according to police.
‘Living the happiest moment in life’
Wendy Martinez moved to the United States from Nicaragua when she was 5 and was raised in Florida.
It was a moment of joy… we were very much in love.
A determined young woman with a “passion for people,” according to her mom, she was working as chief of staff at tech startup FiscalNote. But she also “kept looking for better ways to reach out to women,” said Cora Martinez. “My daughter was a great motivator.”
A world traveler, she wanted to help Latina immigrants in the U.S., her mother said, and “had a dream about helping people from Nicaragua, women with low income, so they’d be educated and financially ready to become independent.”
“She also developed this passion for running. She found in running a great way to find herself,” Cora Martinez said. “Not only to relieve her body from stress but to relieve her mind of any negative thoughts. So she would go run and she would dream while running. ‘What is next? What am I supposed to do in life? Who am I supposed to be helping?'”
Running brought Wendy Martinez to her future fiancé, Daniel Hincapie, as he trained for his first half marathon a few years ago. A mutual friend suggested Wendy give him some tips, Hincapie told ABC News.
They became a couple, and in September 2018, days before Wendy Martinez was killed, Hincapie popped the question.
He decided to propose at her favorite spot in D.C. — the Spanish Steps.
“To actually tell her that I loved her and I wanted to spend the rest of my days with her in that place had a lot of meaning,” he said. “It was a moment of joy… we were very much in love.”
“She was living the happiest moment in life,” Cora Martinez said. “She was excited about what was coming.”
Three days before the attack, the mother and daughter picked out a wedding dress.
The 35-year-old would be buried in that dress.
‘It’s almost like running with her’
Crawford, Martinez’s suspected killer, underwent psychiatric treatment and medication for psychosis, and this month he was ruled competent to stand trial, reported ABC Washington, D.C., affiliate WJLA.
Crawford is due to return to court on May 17. His defense attorney did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment.
Hincapie called the shocking crime “one of those things I think that no one is prepared to face.”
“And when you actually realize how random the whole thing was, it’s very difficult to grasp, because I think at the end of the day, we’re humans and we try to rationalize violence,” he said.
Amid the grief, Hincapie said “the worst thing you can do is fall into hate,” so he instead chose to celebrate his fiancée’s life.
If you can be any person in the world, be someone like Wendy.
“One of her dreams was actually to run the Boston Marathon,” Hincapie said — a race he’ll run in her honor next month.
“Having the opportunity to fulfill her dream after what happened, it’s extremely symbolic,” Hincapie said. “She was running when she was attacked, so it’s also a way to tell the world [we will] finish her race.”
“It’s a way to cope,” he said. “It’s also a way to connect with her. … It’s almost like running with her.”
Beyond the marathon, Hincapie said he wants to inspire other young women to embrace a full life the way his fiancée did.
“I want to young women to continue believing that it’s possible to be kind, to give back to the community, to pursue love and to be successful. Wendy represented all those aspects I think,” he said. “If you can be any person in the world, be someone like Wendy.”