A man has been extradited to the US more than thirty years after he went on the run for allegedly killing his wife.
Authorities in Fairfax County, Virginia, confirmed during a press conference on Monday that Jose Lazaro Cruz, 56, was brought back to America on 19 January. Mr Cruz, who was arrested in Costa Rica in 2022, is accused of stabbing his 24-year-old estranged wife Ana Jurado.
Jurado’s lifeless body was found on the side of a street in April 1991, said Fairfax County police’s deputy chief of investigation Eli Cory. Witnesses at the scene told police they had heard screams and saw a man who matched Mr Cruz’s description.
Jurado had three children, aged three, four and seven months, at the time of her murder.
Mr Cruz initially tried to flee through the Canadian border but was not allowed to enter the country after law enforcement realised he was using a fake ID and had a fresh cut on his hand. Mr Cruz travelled by bus to Houston, Texas, and then used a smuggler to cross the border.
Police in Virginia sought a warrant for Mr Cruz’s arrest but El Salvador, where wounded up after he escaped the US, did not have extradition policies in its constitution. A now-retired police detective travelled to the Central American country to speak with local authorities and, in 2000, El Salvador implemented an amendment in its constitution that allowed the extradition of Salvadorian nationals, Mr Cory said.
However, Mr Cruz was not arrested until 2022, when he was recognized by Costa Rican authorities while he tried to enter the country. During his time on the run, Mr Cruz had started a new life as a truck driver in El Salvador, where he also remarried and had several children.
Police said that Mr Cruz was likely visiting families in Costa Rica when he was arrested.
“This really isn’t a traditional cold case. It was solved virtually right away. He was on the lam, he was on the run,” Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis said. “We never forgot the family, we’ve never forgotten the seriousness of this crime.”
Mr Cruz is being held at the Fairfax County Correctional Center. Criminal charges against him have not officially been filed.
The Department of Justice and US Marshalls assisted local police in Mr Cruz’s arrest.