Suspect in Pamela Butler's Death Investigated in Disappearance of Ex-Wife: Sources

Butler disappeared in 2009; Marta Haydee Rodriguez disappeared in 1989

What to Know

  • Pamela Butler was 47 when she vanished from her home in Northwest D.C. in February 2009.
  • Her ex-boyfriend, Jose Rodriguez-Cruz, was arrested Saturday and charged with her murder.
  • The acting D.C. police chief praised the cold case unit for making the arrest after eight long years.

The man accused of killing his girlfriend, who disappeared eight years ago, is under investigation for the previous disappearance of his ex-wife, sources said.

Jose Rodriguez-Cruz was taken into custody late Friday in Arlington, Virginia. The 51-year-old country club waiter faces a first-degree murder charge in Washington, D.C., in Pamela Butler's death.

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 inolving 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.

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. 

Her family declared her legally dead in August, after she had been missing for more than seven years. Her brother Derrick Butler said her family wanted to settle her affairs and is accepting that she is gone.

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

Surveillance cameras at Butler's home captured video of Rodriguez-Cruz entering and exiting in the days following her disappearance.

On Saturday, family members said they always thought Rodriguez-Cruz was tied to Pamela Butler's disappearance.

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.

“'No, I didn’t. I loved your sister,’” Derrick Butler said. “Listen to what I said, now. ‘I loved your sister.’ Past tense.”

Acting D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham praised the cold case unit for the arrest.

"It was a fresh set of eyes on this case," Newsham said. "It is our belief this is a domestic violence case, but we can't get into it at this time."

New information from new witnesses led to the charges.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said the Butler family's persistence and dedication also helped in the case.

"They have been focused on keeping Pamela's story in everybody's attention," Bowser said.

Rodriguez-Cruz waived extradition from Virginia and is in the custody of the Metropolitan Police Department, Newsham said. He appeared in court Monday and is held without bond.

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