A woman who claims to have been married to Michael Martin at the time that he was killed at the Brattleboro Food Co-op on August 10, 2011, attempted to submit a post-dated marriage certificate to the state in May of this year.
According to a letter to the Dummerston Town Clerk from Mary Cain, a local Justice of the Peace, she stated that though she signed the marriage certificate as the officiant, she admitted she was not at the wedding on Oct. 31, 2010.
Cain, who has been a Justice of the Peace since September 2010, stated that she met with Jennifer Dusenbery, her boss while the two worked at the Abby Group, on the morning of May 4 in downtown Brattleboro.
"She said she was married by a person from New Hampshire, for some reason they did not sign the marriage license," Cain wrote, adding Dusenbery asked her to fill in the information on the license to indicate that she did get married on Oct. 31.
"Because she indicated that this was just a formality and that the (Dummerston) Town Clerk had told her to do this, I signed the document," Cain wrote.
But according to state statutes, the only person who can sign as the officiant is the person who actually conducted the ceremony. In fact, Block 18c of the Vermont License and Certificate of Civil Marriage states "Signature of Person Performing Ceremony."
Nonetheless, Cain signed the form, which was returned to the Dummerston Town Clerk, the town in which Dusenbery and
In her letter to the town clerk, Cain stated she's conducted more than 60 marriage ceremonies.
"I am a new notary and I have never notarized anything," Cain wrote. "She asked me to fill in the information on the marriage license indicating that she did get married on Oct. 31, 2010, in her home in Dummerston. Because she indicated that this was just a formality and that the Town Clerk had told her to do this, I signed the document."
When contacted by the Reformer, Cain said she was merely doing what was asked of her.
"If there were any ulterior motives, I wasn't aware of them," Cain said. "We haven't had any notary training in this area and I took Jennifer at her word."
The Reformer made several attempts to contact Dusenbery, who is listed on Martin's death certificate as his spouse/civil union partner, but was unsuccessful.
When the Dummerston Town Clerk asked Cain to file an affidavit stating that she was present at the alleged wedding in 2010, Cain responded by letter.
"I was only verifying that, as a notary, that the marriage had taken place with the information that I was given," Cain wrote in her letter. "If there was confusion, it was on my part in misunderstanding that this was not the case and that the Town Clerk may not have directed Jennifer to do this. As a notary I believed that this was in fact the information having worked with Jennifer in the past."
Shortly after forwarding the marriage certificate to the state, Dummerston Town Clerk Pam McFadden realized something wasn't right, so she went back through her notes and racked her brain to remember what happened and when it happened.
According to notes composed by McFadden and forwarded to the town's attorney, Dusenbery first contacted her on April 27, asking if her marriage license was valid. But McFadden told her she had no marriage license for the two on file.
"This indicated to me that the license may have been taken out but the marriage may never have taken place," wrote McFadden.
Later that day, Dusenbery visited the town clerk's office with the marriage license, which McFadden had signed in October 2010. Not only was the officiant block unsigned, the license was laminated, wrote McFadden.
The office of vital records told McFadden to fill out a new marriage license and have the officiant sign it.
McFadden also recalled that Dusenbery told her twice that Maureen O'Neil, a Justice of the Peace in Bennington, married them, not Mary Cain.
But when contacted by the Reformer, O'Neil said that's simply not true.
"I did not marry them," she said.
McFadden called vital records once more, explained the situation and put a hold on the marriage certificate, which is its current status.
"I would never have sent it in if I knew the officiant had not witnessed the marriage that she/he signed off on," wrote McFadden.
McFadden told the Reformer that Dusenbery told her at least 20 people attended the ceremony, but no one has submitted affidavits to her as verification.
"The bottom line is, Mary is saying she didn't perform the marriage," McFadden said. "She should've never signed that piece of paper."
Windham County State's Attorney Tracy Shriver told the Reformer she cannot comment on ongoing investigations and wouldn't say whether Dusenbery or Cain are facing criminal charges.
Even if the marriage certificate was valid, there is also some question about whether the marriage itself would have even been legal.
Lisa Nasca, who lives in New York State, said that though she and Martin had been separated for about six years, they were never legally divorced.
"I'm Michael Martin's widow," she said.
Nasca said the two were married in Arizona, but shortly after the birth of their child, Martin left her. Nasca said she was his fifth wife.
"His real love was his work," she said.
He left for Indianapolis, where he met Dusenbery, Nasca said, who insisted that she is the one who asked for the divorce and that Martin never filed any paperwork.
But Martin's sister, Joann Berno, gave the Reformer a different account.
Berno, who was made the executor of Martin's estate following his death, said her brother had filed divorce paperwork, and he and Nasca had a settlement in place.
He never knew he wasn't divorced from Nasca, she said.
"There was a settlement agreement but her attorney failed to file the paperwork with the court," Berno said. "She could get up to 50 percent of Michael's estate, but in the settlement paperwork, she gave up any rights to his estate."
It's unclear at this time what legal rights Nasca may have, but Berno said she's confident that Nasca doesn't have any.
"Lisa has no claim to anything ... we have paperwork where she signed off on everything," Berno said.
At this time, Martin's will has not been adjudicated and it is unclear if any of his life insurance policy or other compensation funds have been disbursed.
Despite the disagreement between Nasca and Berno, Nasca said she wanted to make one thing perfectly clear.
"I don't want Michael depicted as a horrible man," said Nasca. "He died a hero."
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