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Can Cold Justice Get Indictment in 1997 Murders of Marisol & Andrew Gonzalez?

 Another great episode of TNT's Cold Justice played out last night, as this is rapidly becoming my favorite crime-themed show. In episode #4, the Cold Justice team of Kelly Siegler, Yolanda McClary, Alan Brown & Armando Perez headed to Cottonwood, Arizona to investigate the unsolved murder of 17 year old Marisol Gonzalez.  Siegler, a veteran former prosecutor with a ton of murder prosecutions under her belt was visibly touched by the cruelty of this unsolved murder.  Not only was Marisol a teenager, she was carrying a full term baby when she was shot in the face on March 25, 1997 in an alleyway just a block from her house.

According to Marisol's family and friends, she was scheduled to give birth to her first son who already had a name - Andrew.  She was 9 months and 1 week pregnant.  Who could kill a young woman who was carrying a full term baby? What kind of monster would be capable of that kind of cruelty?  Rumors around Cottonwood during the original investigation centered around the father of Marisol's unborn son, 17 year old Cecilio Cruz. It seems that Marisol wasn't the only woman in Cecilio's life at the time of her murder. Cruz had a new girlfriend who was also pregnant at the time of this murder.  In fact, during an appointment with her OB/GYN, Marisol had actually run into the other woman sitting in the waiting room.  Two pregnant teen aged girls, and one thing in common - Cecilio Cruz.

Cottonwood police and the Cold Justice team paired up and investigated over 90 leads around this case.  Where Marisol's body was found was seemingly one of the most telling leads police had.  Marisol's body was discovered in a dirt alley in a spot where she and Cecilio were known to have met during their relationship - sort of a halfway spot between their families houses.  Her body was discovered around 6AM by a man who lived across the street from the alley, who had a clear and unobstructed view of the area.  English was his second language, so he had his son call the police on that fateful morning to report the woman in the alley.  She was quickly identified as being 17 year old Marisol Gonzalez.  She was found wearing sweatpants, a shirt and her slippers. Ear witness accounts reported hearing gunshots at around midnight the night before.  What was Marisol doing in that alley in her slippers? Who was she meeting? It sounds as if she was lured to the spot.  

Police investigating the crime back in 1997 had difficulty getting statements from friends of Cecilio Cruz and other potential witnesses. There were rumors that Cecilio was a gang member and that he may be involved in illegal drug activity. Investigators felt that witnesses back in 1997 may have been or felt intimidated by Cruz or his tie to a gang, another rumor that was floating around during the initial investigation was that Marisol was killed by a rival gang as some kind of retribution to Cecilio.  This was a rumor that Cecilio reportedly perpetuated. If this were true and Marisol was killed to get back at Cruz, how did they get Marisol out of her house and to that exact spot wearing only her slippers? Had she been planning on going out for the night, surely she would have gotten dressed and put her shoes on.  It doesn't seem likely that the night before she was scheduled to go into the hospital to have her baby that she would leave the house and walk down that alley way for just anyone.  It seems she would throw on her slippers and walk there to meet Cecilio. There seems to be no other viable reason. Yet when questioned by the police, Cecilio repeatedly denied having spoken to Marisol the entire day.

Enter the Cold Justice team. They interviewed a witness who during the original investigation provided a timeline of sorts for when Marisol may have been killed. She also happened to live across the street from that alley way, with an unobstructed view of the spot where Marisol's body was found and she reportedly heard the gunshot at around midnight. She walked out to her balcony to take a look around, and she didn't see anything. She didn't see a car speeding off or driving away and she initially didn't see Marisol's body because it was so dark. The fact that she is certain there were no cars seen in the area after the shot seems to dispel the notion that Marisol was killed by a rival gang member seeking retribution. 

There was virtually no physical evidence connected to this case for police to work with. Marisol's sister reported that around 10PM on the night of March 25, 1997 she was on the telephone and Marisol told her she was expecting a phone call.  While talking on the phone, Marisol's sister saw an incoming call from Cecilio coming through, which she ignored since she was talking long distance. When she got off the phone, she gave it to Marisol.  Marisol was talking to a friend when another call was coming through - Marisol told her friend she'd talk to her later because Cecilio was calling and she needed to take the call.  That was the only first hand (non-hearsay) statement police had uncovered that proved Cecilio had lied about having talked to Marisol the day or evening she was killed. He HAD called her that night.  Marisol then put on her slippers and left her home, never to be seen alive again.

Police have always believed that Cecilio Cruz was involved in this murder.  At 17 years old and expecting two children with two different women, maybe the prospect of financially supporting two families was more than Cruz was ready or able to deal with and he decided to take the easy way out.  I can't think of many things that are more senseless or cruel than this - to lure her out to a spot that had been meaningful to them both in the past and either kill her or have someone else kill her.  There's a special place in hell for people like this, and if Cecilio is involved in this double homicide he'll surely be in that special place when his time on Earth is up.  When detectives showed up at Cecilio's place of employment to talk to him about facts they had uncovered during their new investigation, he refused to answer questions without an attorney present.  They approached him in a calculated manner; they told him they had new information in the investigation into the murder of his son Andrew.  They wanted to gauge his reaction - and it was telling.  If your baby was murdered and you had no culpability in the killing, you'd want answers not an attorney.

At the conclusion of the show, the Cottonwood police presented their findings to the District Attorney's office who decided to take this case to a grand jury to seek a murder indictment against Cecilio Cruz.  When the Cold Justice crew and the Cottonwood detectives went to the Gonzalez family's home to update them on the progress on the case, Kelly Siegler had to fight back tears as she pondered the murder of this 17 year old girl and her full term baby boy.  It clearly touched them all - and that's what makes this show so good. Sure, ratings are good in television, but that's not what it's all about for Siegler, McClary and their detectives and crew. It's truly about justice.  


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