Daily Herald
Dad laments Blake's role as '8th victim'
By Daniel Curry | Daily Herald Staff
Published: 8/4/2009 5:03 PM | Updated: 8/4/200 10:00 PM

Originally published Jan. 12, 1993

Seven people died in last weekend's gunfire at Brown's Chicken & Pasta in Palatine.

Martin E. Blake, released Monday after being questioned for two days about the slayings, has become a victim, too, his father said.

"He's mild-mannered. He's nonviolent," Thomas Blake of Inverness said. "He's the eighth victim."

Blake, who has been identified as a suspect by police sources, was taken in for questioning Saturday afternoon after authorities arrived with guns drawn at his house in Elgin.

Workers at the fast-food restaurant said Blake had vowed to get even after being fired recently from his job as a cook, but Blake's attorney, Dennis Born, said there was no evidence to connect him to the crime.

"There's nothing to indicate in any way that my client was involved with this investigation, other than the fact that he was arrested at gunpoint," Born said.

Until Saturday afternoon, Blake was a rather anonymous young man.

Growing up in the suburbs, Blake graduated from Palatine's Fremd High School in 1988, bounced from job to job. Never had his name attracted the type of attention it did when the 23-year-old was picked up and questioned about the Palatine murders.

His friends, under questioning from the media and investigators, struggled to explain his personality, his motivations, his talents. Many pegged him as passive, even meek.

Friends and acquaintances said he grew up in the Palatine area and before he moved to Elgin, he lived with his father in Inverness after his parents divorced.

Julie Boey, who knew him through confirmation classes at Bethel Lutheran Church in Palatine, remembered Blake was a loyal fan of the musical group Pink Floyd and said he even went so far as to shave off his eyebrows for an eighth-grade confirmation group picture.

A scene in the movie "The Wall," which featured the music of Pink Floyd, depicted a character shaving off his eyebrows.

Administrators at Fremd refused to characterize his days at the school, saying to do so would violate his confidentiality. He is pictured in the yearbook his senior year, but there is no indication he was involved in any clubs or organizations.

Blake worked at Brown's Chicken in Palatine during his high school days, and his boss at the time, Doug Hook of Palatine, remembered him as a loner who was a part of the "burnout" crowd.

Blake started working at Brown's again about seven weeks ago and was fired about a week before the murders, friends say.

One trauma in Blake's life occurred Jan. 24, 1986, when he was walking along Brockway Drive in Palatine and was struck by a car. Blake was hospitalized with serious injuries, including two broken legs and a broken wrist.

He filed a civil suit against the driver and the case was settled out of court in 1988, according to Cook County courts records. Blake received $250,000 as part of the settlement, one of Blake's friends said.

The money allowed Blake to purchase the Elgin house about a year ago for about $120,000, said former boarder Mark Callos.

Neighbors in the Parkwood subdivision in Elgin said Blake was not a perfect fit in a conclave of starter homes and young families. He had several run-ins with neighbors over what they say was his reckless driving.

Other neighbors said they were not happy with the frequent parties at the Blake residence.

But other than his alleged rowdiness, the neighbors said Blake is a friendly young man.

"He seems like a nice, OK person," said next-door neighbor Maria Ramirez.

Other friends and acquaintances said Blake is an accomplished pianist and has an interest in gem-cutting. He also likes to work on his cars, they said.

After his release from custody Monday, he went straight to his father's house in Inverness and entered the house without answering reporters' questions.

"His life has been turned upside down in the last 48 hours," Born said. "We'll see what happens."

Daily Herald staff writers Alex Rodriguez, Keri Wyatt Kent and Sheri Vazzano contributed to this report