Florida Keys

Key West has a suspect in a 2016 murder. But prosecutors won’t touch the case

John Harold Cruz’s home, photographed in the days following his death on Sept. 19, 2016.
John Harold Cruz’s home, photographed in the days following his death on Sept. 19, 2016. FLKeysNews.com

Two years after John Harold Cruz died from a gunshot wound to the back of his head in his home, Key West police finally released a report that shows they’ve had a suspect all along.

It’s his wife.

“Maybe I did it,” Jane Cruz said, of her husband’s death Sept. 19, 2016, during her fifth interview with police earlier this year, according to reports. “He was never going to divorce me.”

But despite a detective’s conclusion that there is enough evidence to arrest and charge Jane Cruz in her husband’s homicide, she remains free.

That’s because State Attorney Dennis Ward’s office says there’s not enough evidence to obtain a conviction, according to a police report made public this week.

Ward said the case remains open and the wife is not the only suspect, despite the police report concluding Jane Cruz shot her husband.

“That’s what they say, but can they prove it beyond a reasonable doubt?” Ward said Wednesday. “If they have probable cause they could arrest somebody. Once they do that, we have to look at it. There’s another suspect in the case. Investigators need to wait for the right break in that case.”

Jane Cruz found her husband inside the bedroom they shared at 312 Peacon Lane the night of Sept. 18, 2016, and called 911. A police officer arrived to find her pulling on her husband and yelling, “Wake up!” as he lay face down on the floor with a .380-caliber handgun in his right hand.

John Cruz was wearing only blue shorts, according to the incident report, and he died the next day at Lower Keys Medical Center.

His wife had his blood on her clothing and a bathroom towel, police said. She spoke to police early the next morning with slurred speech, glassy eyes and a dry mouth, reports state.

Two Monroe County medical examiners said the death was a homicide and not self-inflicted.

Forensic tests done by the Miami-Dade Medical Examiner’s Office showed the range of the weapon when fired into Cruz’s head was at least nine inches.

Jane Cruz told her daughter-in-law, “I may have done this,” police said. Neighbors had heard the couple arguing at all hours of the night.

Jane Cruz gave conflicting accounts of her marriage and the night of her husband’s death to police. On May 23, when police said she said, “Maybe, I did it,” she followed that up with, “You know what, f--- you. I was sound asleep when he died.”

On Sept. 22, 2016, Cruz told police she is an alcoholic and she forgets things. She and her husband of 23 years argued the night of Sept. 18, 2016, and he told her if she is tired of him, he has the paperwork for a divorce, she told police.

She said she last saw her husband alive at about 6 or 6:30 p.m. He was watching football and she went to take a shower and wash her hair, taking about an hour. She walked into the bedroom to find Cruz on the floor with a gun in his hand.

“He is always with guns,” she said, recalling she believed he had just fallen down.

In a subsequent interview, she denied taking a shower that night and said she went to bed with her husband beside her.

When told on Sept. 19, 2016, her husband had died, Cruz “went from passive to aggressive behavior and did not shed any tears,” wrote Detective Marcus del Valle.

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