Five years after American Airlines supervisor Ruth Fuentes was shot to death inside her Coral Gables home, her killer is headed to prison for 25 years.
Joel Rodriguez, 54, himself a former American Airlines ramp worker at Miami International Airport, pleaded guilty Thursday to murdering Fuentes, his ex-girlfriend.
A host of American employees, along with Fuentes’ family, watched as Rodriguez accepted the plea deal in Miami-Dade circuit court.
Back in January 2011, Fuentes, 49, stopped responding to calls and text messages from friends and family. Paramedics found her shot to death inside her home in the 1500 block of Certosa Avenue. Detectives immediately homed in on Rodriguez, a former boyfriend who had returned to stay with Fuentes after a tumultuous break up.
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After the murder, he drove to New Jersey in a rented car, using the dead woman’s ATM card to withdraw cash along the way. He also kept her cellphone, text messaging her friends from it. They immediately suspected something was amiss because the “verbiage” of the messages did not sound like Fuentes, according to an arrest warrant.
Rodriguez was later arrested for threatening his ex-wife in Mount Laurel, New Jersey. He later confessed that he got into an argument with Fuentes inside the Gables home — but claimed he “blacked out” and did not remember whether he had killed her.