The Ohio teenager accused of strangling his ex-girlfriend on a senior trip to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, allegedly locked himself in a room with her corpse for hours, then emerged after stabbing himself in the chest, according to the victim’s best friend.
Police say Blake Linkous fatally choked Natalie Martin, both 18, inside a vacation rental on Maison Drive on June 6, where at least five other friends were staying for the post-graduation celebration-turned-nightmare.
“At about 9 a.m., Blake came out, he had stabbed himself in the chest and everyone got up and was freaking out and asking ‘Where’s Natalie? Where’s Natalie?’” Brooklyn Ferrell told Fox News Digital.
Two of Martin’s friends went into the bedroom and found her on the floor and started CPR. “It was way too late for that. She was cold and stiff,” Ferrell added.
Ferrell, who was not on the trip, has been in regular communication with the victim’s mother and the traumatized teenagers who were present.
She and Martin had been best friends since they were 11 and had just graduated May 26 from Philo High School in rural Duncan Falls, Ohio.
The day before the gruesome discovery, the ex-high school sweethearts were fighting over Martin texting another man, but the dispute was quickly resolved.
The group went out to a club, but Martin wasn’t feeling well and headed home early with Linkous. Two of their friends returned about 10:45 p.m. but had to enter through the back of the house because no one was answering the front door, Ferrell said.
One of the friends heard three loud thuds, checked the living room but noticed nothing amiss. He tried the door to the bedroom, where Linkous and Martin were sleeping, but it was locked.
As the night wore on, the other revelers returned and were all home and asleep by 7 a.m.
Two hours later, Linkous burst from the room, bleeding and talking quickly, as he repeatedly said, “Natalie’s not waking up!”
Ferrell said he was alone in the room with her corpse for hours.
Linkous, a high school football player and wrestler, and Martin, who loved softball and soccer, dated for about three years before they split up in February after he allegedly assaulted her at his house in front of a group of their friends.
“He took her and threw her across the room,” according to Ferrell.
“He was trying to make amends and apologized to her all the time. He would text me constantly asking what I should do to get her back,” she recalled.
Linkous was known for his temper, but Ferrell never suspected he was capable of this degree of violence.
“I’m angry at him because he is a better person than this. He truly is,” she said.
The slaying has deeply shaken the small Ohio town. “It’s been devastating for our community,” said Ferrell, who spoke at Martin’s funeral last week at Cornerstone Church. “I looked up at the people while I was talking, and they were all bawling. They just weren’t ready to let her go.”
The best friends worked together at a local daycare, and Martin wanted to earn a degree in child education. “She was really goofy,” Ferrell told Fox News Digital. “You couldn’t find anyone else like Natalie.”
The slain teenager loved to hunt, fish, and “wrangle snakes” and could “gut and skin a deer better than most grown men,” according to her obituary.
Martin was also a nurturer, who loved to garden, care for children and hang out with her three dogs and brothers.
Ferrell launched a GoFundMe for Martin’s family, which has raised more than $32,000 as of Thursday.
Linkous was arrested on June 8 on one count of murder and is being held at the J. Reuben Long Detention Center without bond, records show.
“We’re hurting. It’s a tragedy,” Philo High School principal Troy Dawson, who oversees the school of 500 students, previously told Fox News Digital. “She was well-liked by her classmates and teachers and was very sweet and very funny.”
Linkous’ lawyer, Francis Humphries, didn’t immediately return a request for comment. Martin’s mother, Megan Dingey, declined to comment.