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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Columbia

Friday, October 6, 2017

Virginia Man Pleads Guilty to 2009 Murder of Pamela Butler in Northwest Washington

Defendant, the Victim’s Former Boyfriend, is Sentenced to 12 Years in Prison; Plea Agreement Requires Him to Aid Police in Locating Her Body

            WASHINGTON – Jose Rodriguez-Cruz, 52, of Arlington, Va., pled guilty today to a charge of second-degree murder for the 2009 strangulation murder of his girlfriend, Pamela Butler, at her home in Northwest Washington, announced U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu and Peter Newsham, Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).


            Rodriguez-Cruz has been in custody since his arrest on April 8, 2017. His guilty plea, which was contingent upon the Court’s approval, called for an agreed-upon 12-year prison sentence, to be followed by five years of supervised release. The guilty plea also requires Rodriguez-Cruz to provide law enforcement with the location of Ms. Butler’s body, which was never found. The Honorable Hiram E. Puig-Lugo accepted the plea today and sentenced the defendant accordingly.


            If Rodriguez-Cruz refuses to assist law enforcement in locating Ms. Butler’s body, or if he misleads police or otherwise does not make his best efforts to provide the location, the plea agreement is to be declared null and void, and he will face the original charge in the case of first-degree premeditated murder.


            According to a proffer of facts submitted at the plea hearing, Rodriguez-Cruz and Ms. Butler, 47, were involved in a romantic relationship. On Feb. 13, 2009, at approximately 8:20 p.m., Rodriguez-Cruz entered Ms. Butler’s home in the 5800 block of Fourth Street NW. He turned off her home security alarm system. A few hours after entering the house, while in the basement area, he and Ms. Butler had an argument concerning the defendant’s job and financial status, which Ms. Butler believed he was not doing enough to improve or elevate.


            During the argument, Rodriguez-Cruz punched Ms. Butler in the face with his fist. She then fell to the floor. At that point, as stated in the proffer, Rodriguez-Crus straddled Ms. Butler’s body and strangled her with his hands around her neck, until she died from asphyxia.


            Later that night and early the following morning, Rodriguez-Cruz turned off the outside motion sensor lights of Ms. Butler’s home security system. He then carried Ms. Butler’s body to the first floor area and lowered her body out of a window, the proffer states. He then carried the body to his car, which was parked on nearby Oglethorpe Street NW. Next he removed several objects from Ms. Butler’s home. Then, he drove away and disposed of the body.


            Over the next two days, according to the proffer, Rodriguez-Cruz came to Ms. Butler’s home and continued to take items out of the house. On Feb. 16, 2009, he disposed of Ms. Butler’s cellphone in an effort to avoid detection for this crime.


            In announcing the plea, U.S. Attorney Liu and Chief Newsham commended the work of the officers, detectives and other personnel who investigated the case from the Metropolitan Police Department. They acknowledged the efforts of those who handled the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas A. Gillice, Paralegal Specialist Alesha Matthews-Yette, and Intelligence Analyst Zachary McMenamin. Finally, they commended the work of Assistant U.S. Attorneys Deborah Sines and Glenn Kirschner, who investigated and prosecuted the case.


Violent Crime
Press Release Number: 
Updated October 6, 2017