Pace of 1991 Va. murder investigation frustrates brother of DC victim

WASHINGTON — Two murdered women — killed 18 years apart — have several things in common, but the inability to conclusively link the cases is frustrating one victim’s family.

Derrick Butler, the brother of Pamela Butler of D.C., who disappeared in 2009, is expressing frustration that Virginia authorities have not charged Jose Rodriquez-Cruz with a second murder, that of his first wife, Marta.

In 2017, Rodriguez-Cruz confessed and pleaded guilty to murdering Pamela Butler. Investigators said they believe him responsible for, but haven’t charged him with, Marta’s death. He is serving a 12-year sentence.

Marta Haydee Rodriguez was a 28-year-old nurse’s aide when she disappeared in 1989. The Arlington, Virginia resident’s remains remains were found in 1991.

“My sister was killed in 2009 in Washington, D.C. — she ended up in Stafford, Virginia, on the HOV lane,” said Derrick Butler.

Detectives used cadaver-sniffing dogs along the Interstate 95 Express Lanes between Quantico and Garrisonville Road in December 2017, to search for Butler’s body. Sources say Jose Rodriguez-Cruz, who pleaded guilty to Butler’s murder in October, identified that location as the spot where he buried his girlfriend.

Butler said although dogs alerted several times, his sister’s remains had been washed away by time and the elements.

“Since then, we know that (Rodriguez-Cruz’s) first wife was found, not too far from where my sister was found,” said Butler.

In June 2018, Virginia State Police announced new DNA testing of remains discovered in 1991 were those of Marta Rodriguez.

While Rodriguez-Cruz confessed to murdering Pamela Butler, court records show no indication he has admitted killing his first wife.

“From my understanding, nothing has happened,” said Butler. “Virginia actually has a much better case in Marta’s situation than they had in my sister Pam’s situation.”

Virginia State Police assumed the lead in the investigation into Marta Rodriguez’s death in the days after her remains were identified. Butler was assured charges against Rodriguez-Cruz were pending.

This week, WTOP’s questions to state police were referred to the Stafford County Commonwealth’s Attorney.

Butler said he has made several attempts to contact county prosecutor Eric Olsen for a briefing of the case’s status, to no avail.

“Just if they would call back and say. ‘We are investigating. We are moving forward,'” he said.

“Eric Olsen is an elected official. If we have a murderer that’s going to come out in 12 years, that we believe has done something else, just as heinous, I don’t think the people of Stafford, Virginia would be happy to hear that,” Butler said.

Butler plans to travel to Stafford County, Wednesday, to request a meeting with Olsen, or another investigator.

Tuesday afternoon, in an email, Olsen told WTOP he was reaching out to Butler.

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Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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