MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. – A recent high school graduate who was on a senior trip to Myrtle Beach was murdered in her hotel room on Tuesday. The girl’s ex-boyfriend, who was also on the trip, was taken into custody, according to authorities.
Natalie Martin, 18, of Roseville, Ohio, was identified Friday by the Horry County Coroner’s Office as the murder victim. She was reportedly strangled to death. The teen graduated from high school last month and was on a senior trip to Myrtle Beach when she was killed, Yahoo News reported.
Another teen from Ohio was taken into custody and charged with the girl’s murder. He was identified as 18-year-old Blake William Linkous, of Blue Rock, Ohio. He was arrested by the Horry County Police Department and booked at the J. Reuben Long Detention Center Friday. He is being held without bond, reported The Sun News.
According to the arrest warrant affidavit, Linkous strangled Martin Tuesday. The coroner’s office said Martin was found unresponsive in her hotel room on Maison Drive.
Martin and Linkous were students at Philo High School in Duncan Falls, Ohio. They had been a couple for several years until they broke up earlier this year, according to Brooklyn Ferrell, one of Martin’s friends. They were both on the senior trip to Myrtle Beach after graduating May 26. Ferrell said the two remained friends even after they split up.
Tributes to Martin have saturated her social media network, Yahoo News reported.
Ferrell established a GoFundMe account to help pay for Martin’s funeral expenses. It had raised more than $27,000 as of Friday afternoon.
Superintendent Kacey Cottrill with the Franklin Local School District said the senior trip was not a sanctioned school activity.
However, Myrtle Beach is a common destination for graduating seniors in area schools, according to Philo High School Principal Troy Dawson.
The principal said they received word of Martin’s death on Thursday. The school district will have counselors available for students though Tuesday of next week, he said.
“We are looking for best ways to help our kids,” Dawson said on Friday. “There isn’t a manual that tells you the best way to handle these things. It’s hard for us to wrap our head around.”
Cottrill added, “It’s pretty much devastating for all of us.”