Woman wanted in Cruz murder case arrested in Florida

  • COURTESY VOLUSIA COUNTY CORRECTIONS— COURTESY VOLUSIA COUNTY CORRECTIONS—

Staff Writer
Published: 12/11/2018 11:33:24 PM

NORTHAMPTON – Chelsea T. Rodriguez, one of two people wanted on charges related to the March 10 killing of Daniel Cruz, is being held in Florida pending extradition, according to information provided by the Northwestern district attorney’s office and Volusia County, Florida.

Rodriguez, 22, of Northampton, was arrested Thursday in DeLand, Florida, by the DeLand Police Department, following an investigation by the Massachusetts State Police detective unit attached to the Northwestern district attorney’s office and the Massachusetts State Police Violent Fugitive Apprehension Section, West Team.

A date for extradition has not yet been set for Rodriguez, who is being held at the Volusia County Correctional Facility in Daytona Beach with no bond. She faces a charge of accessory to murder after the fact, among others.

With the arrest of Rodriguez, only one defendant associated with the case is at large, Alondra E. Gil. Gil faces multiple charges including accessory to murder after the fact. On Monday, another warrant was issued for Gil’s arrest, after she failed to appear in court for a pre-trial hearing on a perjury charge, for which she was released on $3,500 cash bail after being arraigned May 9. The perjury charge is in relation to the Cruz case.

Prosecutors say Cruz, 44, of Northampton, got into an altercation with Pedro J. Soto-Rodriguez, 21, of Northampton, at the Meadowbrook Apartments in Northampton on March 10, and that Nerkin Omar Morales, 22, intervened in the argument with a firearm, shooting Cruz three times and killing him. Prosecutors allege that the two men then enlisted others to help cover up the crime, and that Cruz’s body was taken to a field in Hatfield that evening, where it was set on fire.

On Nov. 26, eight people were indicted in relation to the case, including Morales, who is the only defendant facing a murder charge. Morales is charged with first-degree murder.

Morales has been arraigned and held without bail, while Soto-Rodriguez is set to be arraigned Thursday at 9 a.m. in Hampshire Superior Court on charges that include accessory to murder after the fact.

Joshua T. Ealy, 20, of Northampton, another of the eight indicted individuals, will be arraigned on a perjury charge related to the case on Dec. 17 at 2 p.m. That arraignment will leave Rodriguez and Gil as the only people indicted in the case who have not yet been arraigned.

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.


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