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.