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FCPD: Man arrested almost 33 years after wife’s murder in West Falls Church

Jose Lazaro Cruz has been arrested for allegedly murdering his wife, Ana Jurado, in West Falls Church on April 30, 1991 (courtesy FCPD)

The man believed to have killed 24-year-old Ana Jurado in West Falls Church over three decades ago had started an entirely new family by the time he got arrested, Fairfax County police say.

Jose Lazaro Cruz arrived and was taken into custody at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center last Thursday, Jan. 18 — 32 years after detectives got a warrant charging him with murdering Jurado on April 30, 1991, officials announced yesterday.

In that time, one of the detectives on the case — Fred Fife — has died, and his partner, Rich Perez, recently retired, according to Police Chief Kevin Davis.

“We’ve never forgotten the family. We’ve never forgotten the seriousness of this senseless crime, and we never stopped,” Davis said. “That’s why we’re so proud to be here today.”

Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano and other FCPD officials also spoke at the press conference.

According to the Fairfax County Police Department, officers were called to the 3100 block of Cofer Road in the evening of April 30, 1991 for a stabbing. Upon arriving, officers found Jurado lying at the street curb with a knife wound to the upper body. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Witnesses reported hearing a scream and seeing a man leave the area who matched a description of Cruz, Jurado’s husband.

Also 24 years old at the time, Cruz and Jurado were in the process of getting a divorce, FCPD Deputy Chief of Investigations Eli Cory said. Jurado had a 4-year-old son, who was with family in El Salvador at the time of her murder, and two daughters — a 3-year-old and a 7-month-old living in the U.S.

Police believe Cruz initially attempted to flee into Canada but got denied entry at the border for using fake identification. Instead, he turned south, crossing the Mexican border from Houston, Texas, with the help of a smuggler and ending up in El Salvador, which didn’t have any extradition procedures.

That country’s lack of extradition held up arrests in nine Fairfax County murder cases over the preceding decade, including Jurado’s, the Washington Post reported in 1998.

“Rich Perez, for years, worked with the El Salvadorean government to get a mechanism put in place,” Cory said.

El Salvador amended its constitution in July 2000 to allow extradition, but police didn’t locate Cruz until he tried to enter Costa Rica on July 29, 2022, possibly to visit family there, Cory said.

According to Cory, the FCPD determined that Cruz remarried and started “an entire new family” with “several children” while living in El Salvador, where he worked as a truck driver.

Because of the lengthy extradition process, it took another 16 months or so for Cruz to be transferred from the custody of Costa Rican authorities to the U.S. Marshals Service, which brought him back to the U.S. so he could be served the felony murder warrant that detectives had obtained on May 10, 1991.

“This really isn’t a traditional cold case,” Davis observed. “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.”

Fife’s son, Aaron Fife, recalled his father as someone who valued collaboration and was committed to his job and advocating for victims of crimes.

Fred Fife retired in 1994 after a 24-year career with the FCPD, including 17 years spent working on homicide cases, according to his son, who now works for the FCPD himself.

“To bring closure to the victims’ families wasn’t just a duty for him, it was a commitment,” Aaron Fife said. “I would just like to use this as a reminder to me to carry on the lessons he taught me about dedication, collaboration and compassion.”

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