Police to Search for DC Cold Case Murder Victim Pamela Butler's Remains

Pamela Butler disappeared in 2009, and her boyfriend has long been suspected of killing her. On Friday, he confessed to the crime and said he will lead police to her body in exchange for a lighter sentence. News4's Derrick Ward reports. 

(Published Friday, Oct. 6, 2017)

What to Know

  • Butler, an Environmental Protection Agency analyst, was last seen Feb. 12, 2009, outside her home on Fourth Street in northwest D.C.

  • Jose Rodriguez-Cruz pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in exchange for providing information on where her body can be found.

  • Rodriguez-Cruz told police he buried her in the median strip between the northbound and southbound lanes of I-95 in Virginia.

Police plan to search for the remains of Pamela Butler, the Washington, D.C., federal worker who disappeared before Valentine's Day 2009, in Stafford County, Virginia, Friday, sources tell News4.

Jose Rodriguez-Cruz agreed to serve 12 years in prison for Butler's murder. He pleaded guilty to second-degree murder earlier this year in exchange for providing information on where her body can be found.

More than eight years after Pamela Butler disappeared, police have charged Jose Rodriguez Cruz with murder in connection to her death. Her body has never been recovered. News4 learned Arlington County Police are also investigating Cruz for the disappearance of his first wife. News4's Pat Collins reports.

(Published Friday, Dec. 8, 2017)

Multiple law enforcement sources told News4 Rodriguez-Cruz led investigators to a spot along Interstate 95 in Stafford County last week.

"We are elated," said her brother Derrick Butler. "Honeymoon happy and peacock proud. Just looking forward to getting her remains and doing the right thing."

Rodriguez-Cruz told police he buried Butler in the median strip between the northbound and southbound lanes of I-95.

Because D.C. police are investigating and Butler's body is believed to be in Virginia, it took time to coordinate an effort to recover her remains.

The ex-boyfriend of a D.C. woman who went missing eight years ago will make his first appearance in court Monday after being charged with her murder, police say. News4's Justin Finch reports.

(Published Monday, April 10, 2017)

Part of the problem in finding the body is that memories fade over time and the landscape of that area has also changed over time due to road improvements, sources said.

Virginia State Police said Thursday it will assist D.C. police with a criminal investigation, which will close a portion of the I-95 express lanes beginning at 10 a.m. Friday. The Garrisonville Road access points to the express lanes will be closed for a few hours, state police said.

Derrick Butler said he plans to be there when police begin searching. The news of a possible burial site is bittersweet.

"The hardest part for me was just looking at my mother and knowing that this is not what she wanted to hear," he said.

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D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham declined to provide any specifics but said he hopes they can get closure for Butler's family.

“I know that it’s very important to the family to recover Pam’s remains,” he said. “I know that’s extremely important to them, and so we’re working with the U.S. attorney’s office right now to see if we can make that happen.”

"I didn't think you ever get closure with this it's different if somebody dies of a natural death but for somebody to be snatched away from you, somebody to be killed, I don't think you get closure from that," Derrick Butler said.

Butler, an Environmental Protection Agency analyst, was last seen Feb. 12, 2009, outside her home on Fourth Street in northwest D.C. She was 47 when she disappeared.

Butler and Rodriguez-Cruz got into an argument in the basement of Butler's home Feb. 13, 2009, he said. He punched Butler and strangled her, he said.

Then he loaded her body into his car through a rear window of her home.

Surveillance cameras at Butler's home captured video of Rodriguez-Cruz entering and exiting in the days that followed. During that time, prosecutors believe, Rodriguez-Cruz went through her things and removed sheets from her bed.

Her family declared her legally dead after she had been missing for more than seven years. At the time, Derrick Butler said her family wanted to settle her affairs and had accepted that she is gone.

"To be honest with you, I knew - because I just know my sister - probably a week in that we were not going to find her alive," Derrick Butler told News4 Wednesday.

The declaration allowed police to pursue murder charges against Rodriguez-Cruz.

Rodriguez-Cruz, who dated Butler for about five months, repeatedly denied involvement in her disappearance.

Derrick Butler said when he asked Rodriguez-Cruz if he killed his sister, he spoke about her in the past tense, saying, "I loved your sister."

Derrick Butler said he had liked Rodriguez-Cruz the first time he met him.

"He seemed like a really nice guy to turn out to be such a sick character," he said.

Rodriguez-Cruz is also under investigation for the previous disappearance of his ex-wife, sources said.

His ex-wife, Marta Haydee Rodriguez, disappeared in 1989, but police located a woman by that name who had Rodriguez's identification in Florida in 2000 and closed the missing persons case, sources said. It appears that woman was an imposter and Rodriguez-Cruz's ex-wife is still missing.

She had accused Rodriguez-Cruz of assault and kidnapping involving a knife and taping her mouth. In court documents, he was quoted as saying, "If I can't have her, no one will." But she disappeared before she got to testify in court.