WASHINGTON — Jose Rodriguez-Cruz, who was arrested this weekend in the 2009 disappearance of his then-girlfriend Pamela Butler, has been tied to the earlier disappearance of another woman — his first wife, Marta Rodriguez.
She has not been heard from or seen since 1989, D.C. cold case detectives discovered this year.
Rodriguez-Cruz, 51, had confessed to assaulting and abducting her, but the charges were dropped when she failed to appear in court on May 18, 1989. Arlington County police had thought Marta Rodriguez had relocated to Florida.
But D.C. detectives recently learned that the woman in Florida was a sister of Rodriguez-Cruz’s second wife, who assumed the identity of Marta Rodriguez, authorities said.
“Not only do we want to bring closure to our family, but hers also,” said Derrick Butler, Pamela’s brother, following the arraignment of Jose Rodriguez-Cruz on the charge of first-degree murder.
“This guy doesn’t need to be on the streets.”
Arlington County police have opened an investigation in Marta Rodriguez’s disappearance. “They’re actively trying to find some justice” for her family, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Deborah Sines.
A lawyer for Rodriguez-Cruz told a D.C. Superior Court judge that his client is innocent in the disappearance of Butler, a Northwest D.C. resident who was 47 at the time of her disappearance. She was declared dead in August.
The judge ordered Rodriguez-Cruz held without bond until he faces a preliminary hearing April 25.
Butler’s family has long suspected that Rodriguez-Cruz was behind her disappearance, and the family believes that justice will prevail.
“We never gave up hope, always could depend on all of our friends to be with us every time, just thank God,” said Thelma Butler, 85, Pamela’s mother.
- Q: What does the CDC’s new mask guidance say?
The CDC announced new recommendations that vaccinated people return to wearing masks indoors in parts of the U.S. where the coronavirus is surging. The CDC also recommended indoor masks for all teachers, staff, students and visitors to schools, regardless of vaccination status — citing new information about the ability of the delta variant to spread among some vaccinated people.
Most new infections in the U.S. continue to be among unvaccinated people. So-called breakthrough infections, which generally cause milder illness, can occur in vaccinated people.
- Q: How does the CDC describe different levels of community transmission?
The CDC tracks community transmission based on two indicators: The total number of cases in the past seven days per 100,000 residents and the positivity rate of coronavirus tests in a given area over the past seven days.
The cases per 100,000 indicator is broken down into four levels:
- Low transmission: 0 — 9.99 cases per 100,000 persons in the last seven days
- Moderate transmission: 10 — 49.99 cases per 100,000 persons in the last seven days
- Substantial transmission: 50 — 99.99 cases per 100,000 persons in the last seven days
- High transmission: 100 or more cases per 100,000 persons in the last seven days
The positivity rate indicator is also broken down into four levels:
- Low transmission: 0 -4.99% positivity rate
- Moderate transmission: 5-7.99% positivity rate
- Substantial transmission rate: 8-9.99%
- High transmission rate: Greater than 10%
Community transmission rates are being tracked by the CDC.
- Q: What do the numbers look like in DC, Maryland and Virginia?
The CDC recommends looking at data at a county level.
As of Aug. 4, here are areas that have transmission rates considered substantial or high per the CDC’s category, per CDC data.
D.C. — 79.06 cases
- City of Alexandria — 72.76
- Arlington — 72.76
- Fairfax County — 52.90
- Loudoun County — 69.40
- Prince William County — 76.97
- Stafford County — 111.20
- Charles County — 80.24
- Frederick County — 54.33
- Prince George’s County — 69.06
The CDC’s new policies recommend indoor mask-wearing cover cases where substantial and high transmission are occurring.
- Q: Does the CDC recommend wearing masks indoors for fully vaccinated people in D.C., Maryland and Virginia?
The CDC’s guidelines recommend indoor mask-wearing in areas of substantial or high transmission, regardless of vaccination status. However, it’s up to each jurisdiction whether they will reimpose mandates that people wear face coverings.
In D.C., a new indoor mask order regardless of vaccination status goes into effect July 31 at 5 a.m., Mayor Muriel Bowser announced.
In Virginia, Gov. Ralph Northam recommended Virginians “consider” wearing masks indoors where there is an increased risk of COVID-19 transmission indicated by the CDC’s new guidelines. “This is not a requirement, but a recommendation,” he said.
In a July 27 announcement, the City of Alexandria announced that it also has substantial transmission level. “Because Alexandria is currently in a state of substantial transmission, and is exceeding 50 new cases per 100,000 residents in the past seven days, masks should be worn in public indoor settings,” the city said in a news release.
In Maryland, Anne Arundel County announced that masks will soon be required indoors at all county-owned buildings, regardless of people’s vaccination status and, starting next month, all county employees will need to either show proof of vaccination or take weekly COVID-19 tests before reporting to work.
Officials in Montgomery County will meet Aug. 5 on an new health order that would automatically require face coverings in public indoor areas if the county reaches the CDC threshold for substantial spread.
Gaithersburg and Rockville, in Montgomery County, are again requiring visitors and staff in city buildings to wear masks, regardless of vaccination status.
- Q: Some places are requiring state government employees to either get vaccinated or get tested weekly. Will D.C., Maryland or Virginia be doing anything similar?
In Virginia, a spokeswoman for Gov. Ralph Northam said the state doesn’t plan to require vaccination at this time. “The facts show vaccines are highly effective at protecting Virginians from this serious virus — over 98% of hospitalizations and over 99% of deaths have been among unvaccinated Virginians,” Northam’s office said. In Fairfax County, the Board of Supervisors will decide in the next two weeks if it will require its 12,000 employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Neither D.C. nor Maryland officials responded to emails asking whether government employees would be required to be vaccinated.
Officials in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, announced that starting Sept. 13, all county employees will need to either show proof of vaccination or take weekly COVID-19 tests before reporting to work.
- Q: What are the mask regulations for DC-area public schools?
The CDC recommends that all students wear masks in school.
Faced with the new CDC guidance and the approaching start to the school year, more school districts across the D.C. region are making decisions about what to do.
In Maryland, the large public school systems in the WTOP listening area are requiring masks in school buildings regardless of vaccination status.
Anne Arundel, Charles, Frederick, Howard, Montgomery County and Prince George’s counties in Maryland are requiring masks to be worn in school buildings. Additionally, student-athletes in Charles County public schools are now required to either provide proof of having been fully vaccinated or enter in a COVID-19 screening program to participate in fall sports.
D.C. Public Schools is also requiring masks in its school buildings.
- Q: What prompted the CDC to change its guidance?
The CDC revised its guidance on mask-wearing due to new COVID-19 surges in the U.S. in areas where people largely remain unvaccinated, coupled with the ability of the more virulent delta variant to spread — even among vaccinated people.
The CDC said that “breakthrough” infections, which generally cause milder illness, can still occur in vaccinated people. With the delta variant, the level of virus in infected vaccinated people is “indistinguishable” from the level of virus in the noses and throats of unvaccinated people, CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky said Tuesday.
- Q: How does the CDC define a vaccine breakthrough infection, or breakthrough case?
Vaccine breakthrough infections, or breakthrough cases, occur when a person becomes infected with COVID-19 after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. Most people who fall into that category are much less likely to get sick, become hospitalized or die.
However, it is possible that some fully vaccinated people might have infections and not have any symptoms.
Virginia tracks COVID-19 cases by vaccination status on an online dashboard. Since January, 99% of cases and 98% of both hospitalizations and deaths have involved people who are not vaccinated.
- Q: How are the beaches faring?
Maryland’s Worcester County, where Ocean City is located, has reached substantial community transmission as defined by the CDC.
Sussex County, where Rehoboth, Bethany and Fenwick are located, is also at substantial transmission.
- Q: Need more information?
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