Jose Lazaro Cruz, a man wanted for murdering his wife in 1991 in West Falls Church, is finally in Fairfax County police custody 33 years later.
“This really isn’t a traditional cold case. It was solved virtually right away,” said Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis at a Monday news conference. “He was on the lam. He was on the run. He avoided accountability for something he did nearly 33 years ago.”
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Deputy Chief Eli Corey said that on April 30, 1991, officers responded to a stabbing in the 3100 block of Cofer Road and found 24-year-old Ana Jurado, a mother of three young children, lying in the road with upper body trauma. Jurado’s daughters at the time were 7 months old and 3 years old and living in the U.S. Her son was 4 and in El Salvador.
Detectives at the time identified her killer as her estranged husband. He first tried to cross the border into Canada but was stopped. He then managed to flee to El Salvador, where there was no extradition mechanism to return him to the U.S.
Corey said Detective Rich Perez who worked on the case with lead Detective Fred Pfeiff worked for years with El Salvador to get a mechanism in place to return fugitives. That finally happened in 2000.
On July 29, 2022, Lazaro Cruz tried to enter Costa Rica from Nicaragua and was detained, Corey said. The federal justice department worked to secure the arrest and extradition of Lazaro Cruz, and a year-and-a-half later, he’s in the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center.
During his time as a fugitives, Lazaro Cruz became a truck driver, remarried, and had more children, Eli said.
“He probably got a little comfortable,” Eli said.
Second Lt. Aaron Pfeiff was 14 at the time of the murder. His dad who retired in 1994 was the lead detective, who spent 17 years as a homicide detective. The investigation his father conducted gathered some of the evidence that will be used at trial.
“It means a lot to me, not only me but my family, to recognize the dedication and legacy of my father,” Pfeiff said. “Bringing closure to the victims’ families wasn’t just a duty him, it was a commitment.”
Pfeiff said his father believed in teamwork. “So you can imagine how proud he would be today knowing how many entities took part in bringing this individual to justice. He understood the importance of collaboration and effective law enforcement,” he said.
Feature image courtesy Fairfax County Police Department/Facebook
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