Convicted murderer Jose Rodriguez-Cruz to plead guilty in 1989 Va. death of estranged wife

Jose Angel Rodriguez-Cruz will plead guilty to murder in connection with the 1989 disappearance of his estranged wife, Marta Haydee Rodriguez, WTOP has learned.

“I was very pleased to hear there’s a deal,” said Derrick Butler, whose sister Pamela Butler was also killed by Rodriguez-Cruz, two decades later, in her home in D.C.

Online court records show Rodriguez-Cruz’s scheduled pretrial hearing, Monday, has been converted to a plea hearing.

Butler said he was aware that Stafford County prosecutors were working toward a plea agreement with Rodriguez-Cruz for the murder of his estranged wife, who was 28 years old when she vanished from Arlington, Virginia.

Marta Haydee Rodriguez’s remains were found in 1991 in the median of Interstate 95 in Stafford County but weren’t identified until 2018, after a DNA analysis.

In 2017, Rodriguez-Cruz pleaded guilty to murdering Pamela Butler in the District. He was serving a 12-year sentence in federal prison when he was indicted in October 2019 in Stafford County on charges of first-degree murder and concealing a dead body in relation to his estranged wife.

Contacted by WTOP, Stafford County assistant commonwealth’s attorney Ryan Fitzgerald declined to specify to which crimes Rodriguez-Cruz would enter a plea.

It remains unclear whether he would plead guilty to the first-degree murder charge, or a reduced charge. First-degree murder carries a maximum sentence of life in prison with no chance of parole.

WTOP is seeking comment from Rodriguez-Cruz’s public defender Brenda Mallinak.

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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