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.
The brother of Pamela Butler, the Washington, D.C., federal worker who disappeared before Valentine's Day 2009, said police told him they believe they got a positive hit on where his sister's remains are buried along Interstate 95 in Virginia, but they won't try to recover them because it is too difficult.
A portion of the I-95 express lanes in Stafford County were closed as police searched from 10:15 a.m. until 1:20 p.m. Friday. The Garrisonville Road access points to the express lanes were closed.
Police searched two locations with dogs, spending about two hours on the median between the southbound lanes and express lanes near mile marker 147 in Stafford County and about one hour on the service road between northbound and southbound lanes near mile marker 140.
One or two search dogs hit on a spot at the mile marker 147 location, Derrick Butler said.
Jose Rodriguez-Cruz, who agreed to serve 12 years in prison on a second-degree murder charge for Butler's death in exchange for providing information on where her body can be found, told police he buried Butler in the median strip between the northbound and southbound lanes of I-95. Multiple law enforcement sources told News4 Rodriguez-Cruz led investigators to a spot along I-95 last week.
There was no statement from police about Friday's search.
"The search for Pamela Butler remains an ongoing process," D.C. police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck said.
Derrick Butler, who arrived at the location before the search started, said police believe his sister's remains likely are buried in the median of I-95. He said he is very disappointed to hear it's too difficult to recover them. He said he was told the many improvements to the express lanes and the drainage in the area over the past eight years make digging there too risky and the chance of actually finding Butler's remains is too little.
Derrick Butler said he put his trust in the investigators but was skeptical of Rodriguez-Cruz.
"They seem to have vetted him pretty well, and they seem to think they're on the right track," Derrick Butler said. "It would be nine years of, I guess, agony lifted off of me."
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.
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.
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.
Derrick Butler said he may dedicate himself to that case because he doesn't want to see Rodriguez-Cruz get out of prison.