Tracy Redmond couldn’t shake an uneasy feeling on the morning of July 3, and when text messages to his wife, Marta, and adult son, Matthew, went unanswered, his apprehension grew.
The previous night had been a difficult one for the Redmond family. Matthew, 29, showed up on a neighbor’s property saying he was looking for someone. The neighbors were not close with the Redmonds, and they did not recognize Matthew as being from the neighborhood. No one knew the person for whom he was looking. Matthew was asked to leave and did so without incident.
Around 9 p.m., he returned, and this time neighbors called the police. Just before 1 a.m., the same neighbors observed Matthew standing at their front door, and the police were called a second time.
“It was just an odd string of events and certainly unsettling to have him at my door at 1 o’clock in the morning,” said neighbor Rochelle Wagner. “When I told him through the window to leave, he did. And we followed the instructions we had been given (by the police).”
Lt. Walter O’Grodnick of the Brentwood Police Department said officers investigated the disturbances involving Matthew and determined they did not rise to the level of a criminal complaint or arrest. During their first visit to the Redmond home that night, officers from the Brentwood Police Department told Matthew to stay away from the neighbors, and that appeared to be the end of the incident until several hours later when police returned to the Redmond home.
“I thought that it was done,” said Tracy. “Then at 1:30 in the morning, the doorbell rings, and the police are back saying that he had gone over there again. He was down here, and Marta got out of bed and I’m like, ‘What’s going on, Matt? They told you to stay away. Why did you go back?’ He really didn’t have anything to say about it.”
Unable to reach his wife and son the next morning, Tracy viewed his security camera feed from work and saw police activity and yellow police tape strung across the front of his Brentwood home. He rushed home from his job in Walnut Creek and talked to police dispatchers as he made the trip.
“I called dispatch to let them know, and they wouldn’t tell me anything. They said, ‘A detective needs to call you,’” Tracy said. “I was halfway home, and I called again because no detective had called. I had to wait a good half-hour (outside my house) before one of them came to talk to me.”
The shocking news delivered by the detective was that Tracy’s wife of 30 years was the victim of a violent assault, and his son was in custody and a suspect in her murder. In the face of devastating tragedy, Tracy struggles to comprehend what happened that morning.
“He was always the sweetest, nicest guy,” said Tracy. “Even for us it was shocking. Matt? That’s not the Matt we know. If it really was him, he had to have just snapped. Apparently he was in a psychotic state for the first few days he was (in jail). I haven’t talked to Matt at all. He has to call here, and he hasn’t. I don’t blame him. It’s just unimaginable that he would do something like that – especially with Marta who loved him so much, and he loved her.”
Matthew lived in the Redmond family home with Tracy, Marta and Lucas, his 24-year-old brother. Matthew’s sister, 24-year-old Danielle – Lucas’ twin – lives nearby in Oakley. The Redmonds bought the house on Torrington Road in a quiet Brentwood neighborhood when they moved to the area from Concord 23 years ago. Marta liked the area, and the homes were affordable.
Tracy and Marta met while they were both working for a cable company. He was a dispatcher, and she was a supervisor. Marta quickly climbed the corporate ladder but left her job in 1999 after she was diagnosed with lupus. Health problems compounded for her as she later developed rheumatoid arthritis and chronic back and neck problems.
“She was in constant pain, always – even with pain management and medication,” explained Tracy. “It helped a little bit, but she was still in pain. It seemed like she was always in pain, no matter what.”
Matthew worked the overnight shift at the Chevron locations on Balfour Road. Tracy said that the shift suited his habit of staying up all night. When Matthew was let go from the job, Tracy said that it didn’t seem to bother him.
“I would describe him as cheerful, easy-going, joyful,” said Analisa Quier, who worked with Matthew at Chevron. “He seemed like a good guy. I believe he actually introduced me to his mom when I was working there one time, and it seemed like they had a fine relationship.”
Matthew was, according to Tracy, close with both of his younger siblings. His brother Lucas is developmentally disabled and suffers from a rare genetic disorder that manifests in a wide variety of symptoms. Matthew had himself been diagnosed with nonverbal learning disorder (NLD) when he was in kindergarten. Symptoms of NLD closely resemble Asperger’s Syndrome and include difficulty with reading comprehension, poor physical coordination, awkwardness, resistance to change and a lack of common sense.
“He was a great big brother. Him and Danielle were like best friends. That’s why she’s got a lot of anger toward him now, of course,” Tracy said. “They got along great. They loved each other. He was always real good with Lucas. He was a great big brother – always very patient with him.”
Still, Marta and Tracy were facing mounting evidence in recent months that something had changed in Matthew. Tracy believes it is possible that drug use precipitated some of that change but said that Matthew had no history of using drugs.
“There may have been drugs involved, (which) would have been a recent thing,” said Tracy. “It would have been within the last month or two possibly. I started to notice changes in him, and confronted him about it. He had been up, I think, like seven days straight before this happened, which was unusual. I mean, he’d go two or three days and then he’d sleep two or three days, like a common thing for him ever since he was out of high school ... He didn’t even sit down and rest or anything. It’s just really strange behavior.”
The details of what happened on the morning of the murder are unknown at this point. Judging from text messages that Marta sent to Tracy, it appears that Matthew’s behavior became increasingly paranoid and frightening for Marta.
“Marta, I guess, was concerned and wanted Danielle to come over – she had been scared of Matt,” Tracy said. “I noticed on her phone that she deleted the (texts) that we were talking about him. She told Danielle, ‘I’ve got to go. Matt’s coming.’ So she was being scared. Never in a million years (did I) think that he’d hurt her. I can’t blame myself for not staying home that day when I was worried. But I wish I had.”
Tracy believed that the morning of the murder was the first time that Marta was fearful of Matthew, though he went on to describe an incident that occurred several days earlier in which Marta had come into the house yelling for help after Matthew had grabbed her phone from her. He was convinced everyone was talking about him.
“We were talking about it on text, too, besides talking in person,” said Tracy. “I was like, ‘Doesn’t he realize he’s acting crazy?’ And she said, ‘No, he thinks it’s all of us.’ He thought people were up in the trees watching him. He was really paranoid. He thought our whole family was out to get him. That was not normal behavior for him. It was all really pretty new. That’s why it was hard to comprehend – hard to think there could be an issue like what happened.”
Now, with Matthew in the Martinez Detention Facility, Tracy is trying to reconcile his conflicting emotions.
“I know he must be dying inside if he’s come back to the realization of what’s happened,” Tracy said as he struggled to hold back tears. “He’s still my son. I know Marta would be the first one in line to forgive him. I can’t say that I’ve completely forgiven him, but I don’t want to shun him either. I want to help him. I want to support him, even though, obviously, I absolutely don’t support the action. I still want him to know he’s still loved and still has a dad.”
Matthew is next scheduled to appear in court on Aug. 15. A request to interview Matthew was submitted to the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office. According to the office representative, Matthew declined the request.