UPDATED: Springfield fatal stabbing suspect has history of violence
Arrested for being "out of control" and assaulting same girlfriend back in 2010
SPRINGFIELD, VT - Arnaldo Cruz, the Springfield man who is due to be arraigned Tuesday afternoon in connection with Monday afternoon's fatal stabbing of his long-time girlfriend, Betty Rodriguez, has a long record of criminal violence.
Union Street was closed for hours on Monday afternoon and the nearby elementary school briefly "sheltered in place."
Betty Rodriguez, 58, died at Springfield Hospital less than two hours after she was stabbed in the neck and the back while she was at her sister Grace Bensley's residence in an apartment building at 25 Union Street, Springfield Police Chief Douglas Johnston said late Monday afternoon.
Crime scene tape goes up in front of the apartment building on Union Street
Rodriguez' boyfriend Arnaldo Cruz, 53, was arrested as he was walking down Union Street a short distance from the apartment house just a few minutes after 1:45 p.m., which was when police received their initial report of the stabbing, Chief Johnston explained.
Rodriguez, who lived on Summer Street, sustained stab wounds to the right side of her neck and her back, the chief said, noting that several other people were in the apartment building at the time although he added that it was not immediately clear whether or not there were any eyewitnesses to the actual attack.
Springfield Police Sgt. Jeremy Fitzgibbons searches for the knife with a metal detector
Police spent hours searching snowbanks up and down Union Street, and even calling the Springfield Public Works Department to the scene to pump several storm drains dry in an effort to find the knife but by late afternoon it was still missing.
Springfield Public Works crews pumped water out of street drains to allow them to be searched
Cruz is expected to face a criminal charge in connection with Rodrigues' death but the exact nature of that charge was still being worked out in consultation with the Windsor County State's Attorney's Office, Chief Johnston said late Monday afternoon, adding "I don't believe it will be self-defense by any means."
Vermont State Police Trooper Zach Gauthier and Colin Shepley secured the scene
Chief Johnston said that several people who lived in the apartment building, including Bensley, were members of an extended family who had all been displaced a year ago from an apartment in the heart of the downtown following a drug raid last April that turned up large amounts of heroin, cocaine, cash, and several handguns and resulted in the arrests of several people, although not specifically Betty Rodriguez nor Arnaldo Cruz.
"We've got a lot of pieces of the puzzle to put together yet," Chief Johnston noted.
Springfield Police Chief Douglas Johnston briefs reporters Monday afternoon at the station
Cruz, who was born in Puerto Rico and who has required the services of a Spanish translator at several of his previous court appearances, was listed as Rodriguez's "fiancé" in court documents as far back as 2010 when he was living on Linhale Drive in Springfield.
In January of 2010 he was convicted of forcefully spitting bloody saliva in the face of police and emergency medical technicians and as a result he pled "no contest" to disorderly conduct at a hearing where he also waived extradition to the state of New Jersey which had put out a warrant for his arrest charging that after he'd been convicted of aggravated assault in the Garden State he'd failed to show up for his sentencing hearing there. Cruz's New Jersey criminal record shows previous felony convictions for "assault on a uniformed person engaging in first aid" and "third degree possession of a controlled substance."
The incident that led to Cruz's arrest at a residence on Linhale Drive on the evening of January 17, 2010 began with a report that "an intoxicated male wanted to commit suicide...had access to knives and was out of control," Springfield Police Corporal Walter Morancy wrote in his affidavit.
Morancy said he was met at the door by (2017 stabbing victim Betty Rodriguez's sister) "Grace Bensley who advised that her husband, Eddie Cruz, and a neighbor, Michael Chizmar, where holding down her brother-in-law Arnaldo Cruz."
The corporal said that Cruz was covered in blood and being held down by the two men but was still "flailing his legs and arms and speaking loudly in Spanish...(and) eventually kicked over a glass-topped table which had other glass items on it. These items smashed on the floor causing a serious hazard to all involved. Arnaldo Cruz then began to forcefully bite the wooden leg of a kitchen chair to the point that small chunks of wood were being taken out. Eventually, due to Arnaldo Cruz's actions, and (his) threats toward police and EMT personnel that he was going to kill us, he was was handcuffed for his and our safety," Morancy wrote, continuing that Cruz began to spit in the face of the first responders who then pinned him to the ground and placed a "spit hood" over his head to prevent further attacks while he was being "transported to the Springfield Hospital ER to be treated for his injuries from the glass that he broke and rolled over and his (other) self-inflicted wounds."
"It should be noted while in Room 2 of the Emergency Department, Cruz threatened to kill officers again," Morancy wrote. "Arnaldo Cruz also threatened to kill President Obama (and) while he was threatening to kill law enforcement and EMT personnel he stated more than once that he was Hepatitis C and HIV positive."
By September 2010 Cruz was back in Springfield where he was charged with simple assault after witnesses said he "got so mad" at Rodriguez while they were over at an apartment on Olive Street drinking with a couple they considered friends that he threw a can of beer at Rodriguez, hitting her in the elbow and spraying her with beer. When the female friend of Rodriguez ran to help her, Cruz allegedly "punched (the woman) several times in her right neck, temple and jaw" and then, when the woman's boyfriend intervened, Cruz allegedly "punched (him) on his head, shoulders, arm and chest" before the couple managed to shove Cruz out into a hallway and locked him out of their apartment while police were responding. While being interviewed by police a few minutes later, the couple said that Cruz had made verbal threats to kill them during the incident. The male victim told police that he'd nearly passed out from the ferocity of the blows he was receiving while being beaten by Cruz and, when asked by the officers, the woman rated her level of pain on a scale of 1-to-10 at a "10." At the time, Springfield Police Corporal Michael Gilderdale said that when he met up with Cruz he noted that Cruz had "blood on his left hand and his knuckles on both hands were red and several had abrasions." Cruz was arrested at that scene after he blew a 0.225 percent blood alcohol level on a breath test.
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