INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) –An Indianapolis teenager accused of killing three people after being inspired by the movie “The Purge” appeared in court Thursday.
He spoke softly as the judge asked him questions. At one moment, he stared at the lights in the ceiling. Family members for some of the victims sat in the room as the judge read the 17 charges, including murder and armed robbery, Cruz is facing.
Two women spoke in support of Cruz. Angela Barger identified herself as Cruz’s girlfriend, and the other woman told 24-Hour News 8 she is Ricki cline, the mother of Cruz’s child. The duo were adamant that Cruz is innocent.
“You guys are acting like he is some kind of crazy violent person; he’s not,” Barger said.
Prosecutors said Cruz bragged about killing three people to friends and picked his victims at random. The crime spree happened over a time span of four days between May 12 to May 15 on the north and east side of Indianapolis.
Cruz’s jury trial hearing is scheduled for August 1. He has no bond.
He is first accused of killing two men on May 12. Court documents link Cruz to the murder of Billy Boyd, who was found dead on a sidewalk in the 3900 block of North College Avenue, shot in the head twice. From there, Cruz is believed to have murdered Jay Higgenbotham in the 900 block of North Denny Street. Higgenbotham had been shot multiple times.
Days later, prosecutors believe he murdered Jose Ruiz near East Washington Street and North Linwood Avenue.
He is also accused of committing an armed robbery on East 10th Street and North Linwood Avenue on May 14. A victim said he was robbed of cash and two cell phones by two men. Those men have been identified as Cruz and 18-year-old Steven Clark.
Cruz told one person he had been “purging” in reference to a movie.
“For those of you familiar with the movie “The Purge” the premise of that movie was for one night each year the government would allow citizens to commit any crime without fear of prosecution,” said Terry Curry, Marion County Prosecutor.
A criminal gang enhancement has also been filed, which could result in a doubling of Cruz’s sentence, if convicted.
“Just when you think you cannot experience anything more inexplicable and shocking as we frequently do,” said Curry. “You’re then confronted with circumstances that almost leave you at a loss for words.”
“We couldn’t really pin point why this was occurring,” said Chief Troy Riggs, IMPD. “We were very concerned we may have additional victims.”
But investigators said someone came forward with valuable information. This person said Cruz tried to show her a video of a shooting on his phone.
Not only that, investigators also collected evidence from social media, photos, videos and text messages. Like his alleged messages that read, “I purge every night.” and “I should go kill your step dad, but I’m most likely already going to be on the news.”
Prosecutors said Cruz also talked about leaving the state after what happened in some of those text messages.
Cruz had previously been arrested on May 16 on charges of criminal confinement, kidnapping, intimidation and battery.
“We believe this individual is in jail partly because of that good work, someone giving us information,” said Riggs.
Complete charges against Cruz:
- Three murder charges for each of the three victims
- Robbery resulting in serious bodily injury (attempted)
- Two counts of robbery resulting in serious bodily injury
- Robbery while armed
- Two counts of pointing a firearm
He has been behind bars since May 16 on $200,000 bond.