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Virginia police arrest man accused in 1991 killing of estranged wife and fleeing to El Salvador

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Authorities in Virginia announced on Monday the arrest of a man accused of fatally stabbing his estranged wife three decades ago after being on the run for years. 

The Fairfax County Police Department said Jose Cruz was wanted for the murder of Ana Jurado, 24, on April 30, 1991. At the time of the killing, the pair were married but were in the process of getting a divorce. 

At the time of her death, Jurado was a mother to three children, police said. 

“This really isn’t a traditional cold case,” Police Chief Kevin Davis told reporters. “It was solved virtually right away. 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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Police officers found Jurado on the side of a road in Falls Church when a neighbor called 911 after hearing a scream, authorities said. She died from “upper body trauma,” police said. 

An arrest warrant was issued for Cruz for first-degree murder. He fled to El Salvador, where he lived for three decades, police said. Cruz was detained in 2022 while traveling from Nicaragua to Costa Rica and was extradited last week to the United States. 

A mugshot of Jose Cruz 33 years apart before and after his estranged wife was killed in 1991. Cruz was extradited to the United States from El Salvador to face criminal charges in Virginia.  (Fairfax County Police Department)

Investigators traveled to El Salvador in 1999 to get a lead on Cruz’s whereabouts but nothing materialized at that time. 

Before fleeing to El Salvador, Cruz attempted to cross into Canada but was denied entry because he was using fraudulent identification, police said. Canadian border agents noticed he had fresh cuts on his hand, they said. 

Cruz then took a bus to Houston where he illegally crossed into Mexico, authorities said. From there, he ended up in El Salvador. At the time, the Central American nation didn’t have an extradition “mechanism” in place, police said. 

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Investigators said Cruz was working as a truck driver in El Salvador and re-married and fathered several children. 

“We believe he was crossing the (Nicaragua-Costa Rica) border to go see some family members when he got caught,” Fairfax County police Lt. Col. Eli Cory said. “Thirty years later, I can imagine that he probably got a little comfortable.”

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