The Martin family knew that difficulties would come last week during the move from Emory to their new home in Spring.

But they didn't anticipate that a trailer of their belongings would disappear. 

Bill Martin, 45, his wife Kimberly, 39, and their three children this week sit in a 3,500-square-foot home filled only with boxes, one bed and a few dressers.

The Martins in an interview said they hired a Dallas-based company to handle the move, but it wasn't until they got to Emory that the movers realized their truck wasn't big enough to handle the job.

A Tyler company was contracted to help handle the move, and a mover showed up with a truck and a 26-foot enclosed trailer.

Bill Martin, who took a job as project manager for a large Houston-based construction company, said from that point on the move became a nightmare.

The family's living room, kitchen and three bedrooms of furniture never arrived. There is no television or couch, and thousands of dollars in musical equipment, family heirlooms and irreplaceable items remained missing as of Wednesday. 

"Everything with this move went wrong," Ms. Martin said. "We had three of the movers handcuffed on the side of the road in Malakoff during a traffic stop, and then all of our stuff didn't make it to our new home."

She said that while en route to Spring, the convoy, which included the two moving companies and two family vehicles, was pulled over in Malakoff for a defective headlight on the truck.

Police handcuffed three men riding in the truck as they tried to determine if any of them had a valid driver's license, she said.

"The officers finally learned two of them did have licenses, but they did not have them, so the woman from the Tyler company … drove the truck until we got a few miles out of town," she said.

Mrs. Martin said that just before crossing into Trinidad County from Henderson County, the truck from Tyler had a blowout. 

She said it was decided the convoy, minus the truck and trailer from Tyler, would continue the trip, since it was late at night and everyone was tired. 

It was the last time the Martins saw the possessions the Tyler truck was hauling. Some of those items later were found dumped behind a pharmacy on South Broadway Avenue in Tyler, Ms. Martin said.

The Tyler moving company's owner said a man handling the move was a "now" former employee who was not working for her company during the Martins' move. The owner said the man did moving on the side, although her company did refer him.

"Since this happened he is now a former employee," she said during a phone interview Wednesday. 

The owner said her company has been in contact with the former employee, and he admitted having the Martins' possessions but was refusing to return them.

"I don't know why he won't give it to them," she said. "He said the company in Dallas didn't pay him, but that family isn't to blame for that. They have even offered to pay him, but he said no. We have tried to convince him to give it back, but he refused."

The former employee did not answer repeated phone calls from the newspaper Wednesday, and the number was not set up with a voice mail. 

A check of the central East Texas Better Business Bureau indicates the Tyler moving company has an F rating for complaints unresolved in the past year.

Those complaints allege the company failed to honor contracts with clients and attempted to get more money from customers.

Michele Agbayani Mills, president/CEO Better Business Bureau serving central East Texas, said the complaints alleged the company held the client's furniture hostage during attempts to renegotiate a contract for a higher price. 

The Tyler moving company's manager said the complaints were easy to dispute, and he felt the rating was unfair.

"We did what we said we would do," he said. "In one case, the woman gave us the wrong address, and it was 80 miles farther than what she told us. We told her it would be more to cover the costs, because the cost we had given her was just an estimate."

However, Mrs. Mills said the company hadn't addressed the complaints. 

Tyler police officer Doyle Lynch said his agency is working a case on several recovered items found at the pharmacy, while Henderson County Sheriff Ray Nutt said felony theft charges could be filed. 

"We are gathering everything and will take this case to the district attorney. Because of the dollar amount, this would be a felony theft," Nutt said.

On the verge of tears, Mrs. Martin said she fears the family will never recover its lost possessions. 

"We have tried pleading for our stuff," she said. "There are things handed down from … family members that we can never replace, along with all of my musical equipment and furniture.

"We didn't see this coming. We just want our stuff, but they have it. I really don't think we will ever see it again. Hopefully they will be caught and face the consequences so no one else has to go through what we have experienced."


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