COLD CASE: Mutilation unsolved after 25 years

Mobile County

It’s a grizzly murder that’s gone unsolved for nearly a quarter century.

On November 14, 1993, a passer-by discovered a body along a dirt road off I-10 in Irvington

“The body was dragged in a face-down condition that mutilated the body severely,” said then Sheriff’s Office spokesman Gardner Wilcox.

That was an understatement. The body was missing its head. Dogs were brought in to locate it and the next day they did.

And the decapitation was only part of the horrible story. The woman’s breasts were severed and her sex organs mutilated. It was a murder that then-Sheriff Tom Purvis would describe as one of the worst he saw in his career.

The victim was 27-year-old Renee Bergeron of Louisiana – also known as Maria Martinez of Theodore. The killer has never been found.

Mobile attorney Rick Williams represented Bergeron on a robbery charge. She had also been arrested numerous times for drugs and was known as a prostitute in the Theodore area.

“She ran in a pretty bad circle,” said Williams. “I’m not sure if it was gang affiliated or what, but with persons who had criminal enterprising going on, and she was maybe not part of it, but she certainly had quite a bit of knowledge of it.”

After Bergeron’s body was found, her boyfriend, who also had a criminal record, was questioned but passed a polygraph test. He told police that Burgeron had just come back from a couple months working at strip clubs in Chicago and Texas and may have been involved with some unsavory people there.

“I think it was somebody trying to send a message,” surmised Williams.

Her attorney says whether local thugs, or out-of-town criminals, it was likely someone Bergeron knew who killed her, because she knew too much.

“If you go against us and you don’t do what we tell you to do, or you rat on us, or you try to inform on us, then this is what you’re going to be facing,” Williams said. “This is the punishment you’re going to get.”

Bergeron had young children who lived with family in Louisiana. Williams said one called him just last year curious about the circumstances of his mother’s death.

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