A man has pleaded guilty to the murder of Pamela Butler, putting an end to an eight-year open missing persons case.
Jose Rodriguez-Cruz, 52, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 12-years in prison, followed by five years of supervised release.
In February 2009, Pamela Butler, 47, went missing. According to details made public as part of plea agreement, Butler’s family and police investigated her disappearance for years. Rodriguez-Cruz, her then-boyfriend, was a suspect at the time, but there had yet to be concrete evidence since there was no body. Butler was pronounced legally dead by the courts in July 2016.
According to the warrant for Rodriguez-Cruz’s arrest, Butler’s relatives told police they arrived to Butler’s house and noted her alarm system wasn’t activated, her car was uncovered, her bedding was missing, and a window shade was raised on the side of the house not monitored by surveillance cameras.
However, surveillance footage from around the house showed Rodriguez Cruz walking in and out of the house multiple times throughout the weekend.
Upon police investigation, they found a pair of latex gloves, black plastic consistent with a trash bag on the lower part of the window sill not monitored by cameras, car washing material and more trash bags.
Dogs were brought to the scene and alerted police to the presence of human decay around Butler’s car, a red sheet that was found in the garage and the washer and dryer within the house.
Neighbors told police they witnessed a male driving the decedent’s car. In addition, another witnessed noted to a neighbor they thought it was odd that someone would be washing a car so late in the night and in such cold weather.
In April, Rodriguez-Cruz was arrested and charged with first degree murder.
As the case continued, his violent history with women was highlighted in court.
In January 2004, a woman told police that Rodriguez-Cruz held her at gunpoint and attempted to force her to have sex with him. He told the woman that he could, “make a body disappear,” and that he could, “kill [her]” tomorrow morning and “no one [will] ever find out.”
A detective detailed the account of a woman who said that Rodriguez-Cruz taped her arms so she could not move, and put her in the back of her car. After taking her and her child to his home, he demanded she have sex with him. She refused, and he threatened to sexually assault her daughter or “kill them both.” She tried to escape, and her screams woke her landlord before she stabbed Rodriguez-Cruz. When the landlord found them, Rodriguez-Cruz was holding the woman at gunpoint.
The woman was charged with “malicious wounding” but the case was dropped.
As part of the plea deal, Rodriguez-Cruz must provide police with the location of Butler’s body. If Rodriguez-Cruz refuses to help MPD locate the body, the plea agreement will be void and he will face the original charge of first-degree premeditated murder.