Chelsea Martinez struggled.
She birthed her first son when she was age 16. Two more children followed in two-year increments — another son, then a baby girl.
The Ohio woman married young, too. Court records show she was 20 when she took Oscar Martinez's name in 2009. They'd met as students at West High School in Columbus.
Young love's traction would wear thin. Marital struggles meant Chelsea pulled double duty as a single parent. Her 25-year-old husband worked the night shift at McDonald's.
Chelsea was a consumed mother. In an interview with a Columbus TV station, her mom Elizabeth Smuck said her eldest child lived for her kids.
It now appears she couldn't live for herself.
Chelsea had a history of mental illness. There were years of battling depression. Talk of hopelessness and suicide were never far behind. She'd sometimes abscond from home, taking impetuous road trips to distant locales like Las Vegas and California. She would flee to parts unknown closer to home as well.
No matter the destination, Chelsea always returned.
Somewhere in time she must have realized that no matter how far she traveled, she couldn't get away. Perhaps it was that numbing realization that led to her car ride to Minnesota.
Sometime last month, Chelsea was introduced to a man online with the screen name "DarkRyd3r" via experienceproject.com. It's a social networking site where people share and connect through life experiences.
The two bonded around their mutual interest in vampires and the Twilight series. The exchanges turned darker. Suicide was mentioned. Chelsea reportedly told the man she couldn't wait to die and asked how he might be able to help her.
They agreed to meet face-to-face.
At the time of his wife's most recent trip AWOL, Oscar Martinez thought she'd gone to visit a friend in Akron. Her track record said she'd be back within a week.
Family members reported her missing on July 30 after reading a Facebook post, in which Chelsea had said she left to kill herself by taking cyanide.
Her car would turn up 800 miles from home at Shager Park, which sits two miles west of Faribault on Cannon Lake. The young mom's bound and slashed body was found in a wooded area across from the park on Aug. 1.
According to authorities, "DarkRyd3r" — a.k.a., 39-year-old Jason Nisbit — met Chelsea at a motel the previous day.
They drove to the park in separate vehicles the next morning. Nisbit would later admit he strangled Martinez with a cord before cutting her throat with a 10-inch knife, then dragging her body to a nearby culvert, covering it with dirt.
Nisbit sits in the Rice County Jail, charged with second-degree murder.
His only criminal record in Minnesota amounts to no proof of insurance and expired registration violations in 2001. The Rice County Sheriff's Office has not yet made public a motive.
Before Chelsea met up with Nisbit, she posted an online message to her kids: "I'm sorry I couldn't hold onto you any longer."