An Ohio teenager who graduated from high school last month was allegedly strangled to death by her ex-boyfriend on a senior trip to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, police said.
Natalie Martin, 18, was staying with friends, including her ex-boyfriend, Blake Linkous, at a holiday apartment rental on Maison Drive, according to an incident report.
The trip took a tragic turn on June 6 when Linkous allegedly attacked Martin.
“Blake William Linkous did with malice aforethought cause the death of Natalie Martin,” the incident report says. “The defendant did so by manually strangling the victim.”
The police documents don’t indicate what triggered the horrific slaying.
Linkous was arrested June 8 on one count of murder and is being held at the J. Reuben Long Detention Center without bond, records show.
Martin’s friend Brooklyn Ferrell launched a GoFundMe to help raise money for her funeral expenses.
She told the local newspaper the Sun News that Martin and Linkous had been in a relationship for several years but split up recently.
Martin and Linkous both graduated May 26 from Philo High School in Duncan Falls, Ohio. Her mom’s Facebook page features photos of her in a yellow gown and matching cap receiving her diploma.
Principal Troy Dawson, who oversees the rural high school of about 500 students, told Fox News Digital that the killing has deeply shaken the community.
“We’re hurting. It’s a tragedy. We are just shocked with disbelief,” he said. “She was well-liked by her classmates and teachers and was very sweet and very funny.” Martin had played softball and soccer at the school.
Dawson said he wasn’t aware of any issues between Linkous and Martin.
“I’m shocked that this would happen to anybody by anybody,” he added.
An obituary that ran in the local newspaper praised Martin for her kindness.
“She brought true happiness to all that knew her,” the tribute says. “She had a free, pure and wild spirit with a contagious laugh, a personality out of this world that could bring anyone out of their darkest of days.”
The slain teenager loved to hunt, fish and “wrangle snakes” and could “gut and skin a deer better than most grown men.”
But she was also a nurturer, who loved to garden, care for children and hang out with her three dogs, the obituary says.
The funeral is being held Wednesday at Cornerstone Church, and the next day the school will host a candlelight vigil.
Martin is survived by her parents, Megan Dingey and Jesse Martin, and her two brothers.