Pamela Butler and Marta Haydee Rodriguez (Marta Rodriguez) were both murdered by a domestic abuser. Pamela Butler, of Washington DC, disappeared and died in 2009. Marta Rodriguez, of Arlington, Virginia, went missing in 1989. Her remains were found years later. The following is a timeline in the death of both women. One black. One Hispanic. Both connected by one man—possible serial killer Jose Angel Rodriguez Cruz.
1989—May 26: Marta Haydee Rodriguez, a woman of Puerto Rican descent, is reported missing. She vanished days earlier. Co-workers, where Marta Haydee Rodriguez (Marta Rodriguez) worked as a nurse’s aide, say they last saw her walking to catch the bus as she left work for the day.
Background on Marta Rodriguez
In the 1980s, Marta Rodriguez, a pretty military wife, lived a rocky and abusive life with her husband, Jose Angel Rodriguez-Cruz. After Army officials got word of the domestic abuse, they placed a restraining order against him.
Marta finally left her husband, sent their son to live with relatives in Puerto Rico, and secreted away to Virginia, where she landed a new job and met a new man. The plan was to bring her son to Virginia to live with her once she got settled. But that never happened.
- Court documents show that on March 28, 1989, Jose Rodriguez Cruz kidnapped Marta at knifepoint, bound her hands, and covered her mouth with tape at a motel. She was able to break free. But the next day, on March 29, her husky hubby chased and assaulted her outside her home.
- A cop passing by happened to hear her scream and rescued her with the help of another man. Twenty-three-year-old Jose Rodriguez Cruz was arrested and charged with abduction and assault. He was never prosecuted for the domestic violence case because Marta disappeared into thin air shortly before she was due in court.
- The last thing Jose Rodriguez-Cruz told police is, “If I can’t have her, no one can.”
1991: Marta Rodriguez’ remains are found after two years. She is listed as a Jane Doe, The Charley Project reported. Her murder case goes cold for almost 30 years.
2000: New life is breathed into Marta Haydee Rodriguez’ disappearance case when Miami, Florida detectives report Marta was issued ID. Believing they’d found Marta alive and well, detectives in Virginia close the case. At this time, no one knows her remains have been found and that this case will connect to the disappearance and murder of Pamela Butler years later.
2008— Pamela J. Butler is enjoying her life in a suburb of Washington D.C. She lives alone at 581 4th Street NW, Washington DC., and works as a computer scientist/specialist at the Environmental Protection Agency (EVA). Attractive and independent, Pam needs no one to take care of her. But she is looking for love after a decade of the single life.
September: Pamela meets Jose Angel Rodriguez Cruz, a former military officer, on EHarmony, an online dating site. She knows nothing about his shady past. But Pam is excited about her new beau. According to her friend, Pam can is breathless when speaking about him. Jose Angel Rodriguez Cruz spends many romantic nights with her and moves his things into her home.
2009—January: Pamela Butler is not getting along with her EHarmony boyfriend. She is also under financial strain by this time.
Missing Person Timeline: Retracing Pamela Butler’s Steps
Thursday, February 12: A home security system captures Pamela entering her home with Jose as he carries her packages. Pam Butler tells her mother she’s coming with her boyfriend to have Valentine’s Day dinner with her. This is the last time she’s captured on camera.
Friday, February 13: Jose Rodriguez Cruz leaves Pam’s home at 9 a.m. Working from home that day, Pamela Butler sends an email early in the morning and speaks with a co-worker and a relative by phone. She’s in good spirits. Home alarm system footage shows Jose Rodriguez-Cruz carrying flowers upon returning to the house at 8 p.m. Pam’s frustration with Jose bubbles to the surface. He isn’t ambitious enough and isn’t contributing enough money. Pam also discovers an email from Jose’s ex-girlfriend. The couple engages in a heated argument, leading to Jose knocking Pam to the ground, where he strangles her to death.
- Video footage captures Jose Rodriguez-Cruz walking back and forth outside in the yard between midnight and 2 a.m.
Saturday, February 14: Pamela Butler fails to show up to her mother’s home for the Valentine Day dinner. Her worried elderly mother, Thelma, phones her multiple times and receives no answer. There is no Valentine’s Day dinner. Jose spends it with another woman in Maryland.
- After a phone call from his mother, Pam’s brother Derrick Butler, a high school teacher, is not immediately alarmed, believing his sister is enjoying a long weekend with her man.
Sunday, February 15: Jose Angel Rodriguez-Cruz is seen entering Pamela Butler’s home.
Monday, February 16: Jose Angel Rodriguez-Cruz goes back inside her house.
Tuesday, February 17: Pam Butler is not at work. Derrick Butler calls his sister repeatedly. He heads to Pamela Butler’s home, along with his mother and nephew. Upon entering, family members are met with a mild stench, and the house is messy. In an upstairs bedroom, the sheets are ripped from the bed. Files are strewn all over the floor. These findings are troubling because the EVA worker kept her house immaculate, according to the Washington Post.
There are other troubling clues. A note from Jose Angel Rodriguez-Cruz lies on the table. And a Valentine’s Day card from him is found in the trash. Pamela Butler’s purse is still in the house, and her two cars are parked outside. In one of the rooms, the window blinds are pulled up. Pam always pulls them down. The window downstairs is also unlocked. The family contacts police and reports her missing. They are worried because Pam loves her job and her family.
Pamela Butler’s brother goes to Jose Rodriguez-Cruz’ house and demands to know where his sister is. He insists Jose take off his clothes, and he tells him that he’s looking at him as a suspect. But they are no signs of foul play back at Pamela Butler’s home, and Jose Angel Cruz doesn’t have any scratch marks on his face or body. Jose promises Derrick Butler that he doesn’t know what happened to Pam and is worried, too.
After searching inside Jose’s home, Derrick leaves and returns to Pam’s house to examine the home security system videotape, which shows only three people arriving at his sister’s home. A UPS deliveryman. The postman. And Jose Angel Rodriguez Cruz. The footage also shows Rodriguez-Cruz entering the house on Valentine’s Day and taking things out of the house in large bags. There is no sign of Pamela on Valentine’s Day.
A candlelight vigil is held in Pamela Butler’s honor. Missing person fliers are distributed in the hopes someone will come forward with information. The missing black woman is described as 5’ft. 3in. tall and weighing 120 pounds with brown eyes and brown hair.
Pamela Butler’s brother tells police his sister kept security cameras all around her house. There are two on the front, one on the corner, and another in the back. The left side of the house is the only side with no cameras. Her brother theorizes Pam’s boyfriend killed her, tossed her body out of the window, and transported the corpse to an unknown location, where it remains unhidden.
Jose Cruz is forthcoming and tells police he argued with Pam, and she broke up with him. He denies that he hadn’t been back to the house. But his statements conflict with the video evidence. Investigators want him to take a lie detector test. Jose refuses and stops talking to them.
Pam’s brother keeps his sister’s disappearance in the public eye. He is interviewed several times. Jose accuses investigators of harassing him in an on-camera interview with the local news. Police look at family members as potential suspects. Pam and Derrick owned property together and were having financial trouble. Pam was upset about it. Her nephew, Brandon, who lived with her, left angry weeks before her disappearance when he was asked to pay a $200 bill.
Both Brandon and Derrick are ruled out as suspects.
Four months later, a dead woman’s body is found. Everyone believes they’ve found Pam. But it’s not her. Disappointment dims everyone’s hopes. The spotlight stays on Jose. With no real evidence against Jose Rodriguez-Cruz and without Pamela Butler’s body, the case goes cold for more than eight years.
Police Link Disappearance of Another Woman to Jose Rodriguez-Cruz
2016—July: Pamela Butler is declared dead. Investigators in Washington DC can move forward with the death investigation.
2017: Investigators missed some clues the first time around. A new cold case detective named Michael Fulton uncovers shocking details from Jose’s past. He’d been married twice before. His first wife, Marta Haydee Rodriguez, of Arlington, Virginia, disappeared in 1989.
- Cold case detective Fulton realizes the ID photos for Marta don’t match. The woman who has claimed to be the missing woman for almost two decades is reportedly Jose Rodriguez Cruz’s sister-in-law. (His second wife’s sister.)
- Jose’s second wife, a Filipina woman, said he told her Marta got involved with some bad people and wouldn’t be coming back. Then he gave her sister, an illegal alien, Marta’s date of birth so she could obtain identification in the United States.
And there’s something more. The second wife said she lived under years of abuse, and that her husband put a gun to her head as she pleaded with him not to kill her. A new witness claims to have seen a letter in which Jose took responsibility for Marta’s disappearance. The witness never saw the letter again. With two dead women and a history of domestic abuse, police have what they need to make an arrest.
- Jose confesses to Pamela Butler’s strangulation death. He receives twelve years for pinpointing the location of her remains. Sadly, Pam’s body is never found because the wooded area is now a paved part of I-95.
2018—June: In a surprising turn of events, police connect the skeletal remains found in a wooded area of Stafford County in 1991 to Marta Haydee Rodriguez. The woman is Jose Rodriguez-Cruz’ missing wife. That same remote area is approximately one mile from where Jose said he discarded Pamela Butler’s dead body. Police now know Jose Angel Rodriguez Cruz not only killed Pamela Butler, but he also killed Marta Haydee Rodriguez. They plan to move forward with the case against him.
This criminal case appeared in an episode of The Real Story with Maria Elena Salinas, Unsolved Mysteries, and Dateline NBC.
Related: Watch one of our mini-docs about another woman who was murdered by a man she met online.
[Main image via Investigation Discover/Permission Use Granted]