Murder, Intimidation and Murder Again

The Selby Hotel where John Martin met his killer
The Selby Hotel where John Martin met his killer

Thirty-three-year-old John Henry Martin was an unemployed hairdresser who, on the night of November 14, 1981, met a male prostitute at the Selby Hotel. Martin was later stabbed several times in his sixth-floor Jarvis St. apartment. He lived just a block away from police headquarters.

Police said Martin picked up the prostitute while his roommate, Ross Ball, 33, was away. His body was discovered by Ball when he returned. Martin was found on a blood-soaked couch with stab wounds to the chest and head. Police located a broken knife in the apartment.

Martin had refused to pay a male prostitute for sexual services. In retaliation, the prostitute complained to a friend that he’d been “ripped off by a trick.” He pointed Martin out to his friend, . Holness said “Maybe I should kill the goof.” After Martin’s death, it was reported Holness said he “had taken care of the man.”

Holness and his partner in crime stabbed Martin 25 times and hit him with a barbell. Parts of the knife remained in Martin’s skull.

Black and white photo of murder victim John Martin

On January 21, 1982, Holness was arrested at a Yonge Street hotel. Holness, 23, had no fixed address and also worked as a male prostitute. He was charged with first-degree murder.

On March 17, 1982, police arrested Gary Michael Hilton, 22, of no fixed address, as a co-accused.

Holness and Hilton were both found guilty of first-degree murder in December 1982 of the stabbing and beating death of Martin and were sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years.

Hilton’s sentenced was reduced to 12 years after he won an appeal against the conviction of first-degree murder; he was subsequently convicted of second-degree murder.

On February 21, 1985, Holness was killed in the Millhaven Penitentiary’s exercise yard while prisoners were returning to the prison building. He was 27 at the time.

Gary Michael Hilton, his co-accused in the Martin murder, was charged with first-degree murder. Hilton pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and received a 2nd life term with eligibility for parole after 15 years.


Murder Village Map



Vital Statistics

Name: John Henry Martin
Age: 33
Gender: Male
Date of Death: November 14, 1981
Manner of Death: Stabbed and blunt force trauma
Location: Jarvis St.
Suspect Name: Edward Michael Holness and Gary Michael Hilton
Conviction & Sentence: Both convicted of first-degree murder and life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years. Hilton appealed, and was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 12 years. Hilton later killed Holness.

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