Just before Valentine’s Day in 2009, Pamela Butler suddenly vanished from her home in Washington DC. While the authorities and family suspected her boyfriend at the time, it was only close to a decade later that he was charged with murder. NBC News’ ‘Dateline: A Haunting Stretch of Road’ focuses on how a fresh look at Pamela’s case led the authorities to solve not one but two murders. So, let’s find out what happened then, shall we?
How Did Pamela Butler Die?
Pamela Butler was a 47-year-old free-spirited woman who lived in a two-story home in Washington DC. At the time, she worked for the Environment Protection Agency as a computer analyst. People who knew Pamela described her as a highly organized person when it came to her professional and personal life. Furthermore, she was on top of her home’s security, installing several surveillance cameras on the outside.
On February 17, 2009, Pamela’s family arrived at her home to find her nowhere. They were worried straightaway because things around the house seemed amiss. A window that led to a side yard was left unlocked, and the blinds were open. She was reported missing soon after, but an extensive search had the authorities no closer than before. Despite additional information years later regarding a potential location of Pamela’s body, her remains have not yet been found.
Who Killed Pamela Butler?
At the time, Pamela Butler had been dating Jose Angel Rodriguez-Cruz. According to him, they had met on an online dating service about five months prior. Surveillance footage quickly made Jose the prime suspect. Pamela was seen arriving at her home while Jose waited for her on February 13, 2009. The analyst was seen once more at around 9:48 pm when she picked up the mail, but not after that.
The footage further showed Jose going in and out of the house several times, carrying large bags and a bucket with what appeared like cleaning supplies. However, there wasn’t enough hard evidence to arrest Jose at the time, and the case went cold. The investigation picked up momentum in February 2017 when a detective found a witness that mentioned Jose’s violent behavior. Furthermore, in 1989, Jose’s then-wife, Marta Rodriguez, disappeared under mysterious circumstances.
The witness claimed to have seen Jose hold a gun to the head of a woman Jose used to be married to. He also talked of reading a letter written by Jose that had him admitting he was responsible for Marta’s disappearance. The authorities heard from another woman who said Jose had bound her and sexually assaulted her at gunpoint in 2004. According to her, he also threatened to rape her 3-year-old daughter. With increasing circumstantial evidence against Jose, he was arrested in 2017.
Eventually, Jose admitted to killing Pamela, saying they got into an argument on February 13, 2009, regarding him being unemployed. Jose said he punched and then choked her, returning the following morning to disconnect the motion sensor lights. Then, Jose stated that he dumped the body out of the first-floor window and put it in his car. As part of a plea deal, he pointed the authorities to an area by a highway in Stafford County, Virginia, and said he buried Pamela there.
However, the area had been dug up for construction, and the police couldn’t find Pamela’s remains. But at the same time, they learned of unidentified remains being found by the side of the same road in 1991. The body belonged to Jose’s estranged wife, Marta Rodriguez, and it was confirmed through DNA tests. In the end, Jose pleaded guilty to Pamela and Marta’s murders and was sentenced to lengthy prison stints.
Read More: Where is Jose Rodriguez-Cruz Now?