Author: Erika Marie

Dark. Lovely. Journalist. Activist. Abolitionist. Diviner. Storyteller. Poet. OurBlackGirls.com | Urbanesh.com Insta: @earthtoerikamarie | Twitter: @EarthToErika

Eight Years After Pamela J. Butler Went Missing, Her Boyfriend Admitted To Killing Her

The day before Valentine’s Day in 2009, computer analyst Pamela J. Butler was captured by security cameras at her Washington, D.C. home with her boyfriend, Jose Rodriguez-Cruz. The following day, two emails were allegedly sent by Pamela to both a relative and to her employer. However, days rolled on and no one was able to get into contact with the 47-year-old Environmental Protection Agency employee.

Butler was a stickler for order and safety; her home was secure with a high-tech system, motion-activated floodlights, and cameras all-around. She liked to keep things tidy with everything in its place, so it was a surprise to her brother to find a few things out of order when he went to check on her. Her bed sheets were missing and the comforter was on a small couch in the bedroom. Real estate files were strewn about the floor in her home office, and even stranger, the blinds in the second-floor dining room were open and the window was unlocked Pamela was known to keep her blinds fiercely shut, as she didn’t want her neighbors to see inside of her house. Both of Pamela’s vehicles, a gray Mercedes-Benz and a gold Jaguar, were still at her home. Yet, her keys, purse, credit cards, and driver’s license were missing. Also, Pamela’s alarm system was turned off, something Pamela’s family said she always set.

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As is in most cases such as these, detectives focused on Rodriguez-Cruz, Pamela’s boyfriend of five months that she’d met on an online dating site. Security cameras showed him walking out of Pamela’s house on February 13 around 11:30 p.m. Rodriguez-Cruz told police that Pamela broke up with him that day and while he was surprised at her decision to split, they parted without any ill-will. Even Pamela’s relatives told police that they weren’t aware that she planned on breaking up with Rodriguez-Cruz because she always seemed so happy with him.

In the days following Pamela’s disappearance, her home security cameras caught Rodriguez-Cruz coming in and out of her home carrying random belongings. He told investigators that he had been moving his personal items out of Pamela’s house since they broke up and initially there wasn’t anything suspicious about his story other than the fact that Pamela wasn’t seen leaving her residence. The last time cameras caught her was on February 12 when she quickly went outside to check the mail.

The walls were closing in on Rodriguez-Cruz and he was feeling the heat, especially after police impounded his vehicle and took some of his belongings as evidence. Thinking he could beat the heat, Rodriguez-Cruz agreed to take a polygraph examination to clear his name. However, just as the exam was about to begin, he changed his mind and walked out of the room. His cooperation with the police ceased that day.

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There were skeletons in Rodriguez-Cruz’s past that would give any investigator pause. He was once married to his first wife of whom he was estranged, Marta “Haydee” Rodriguez. She accused him of domestic violence and vanished from Arlington, Virginia on May 26, 1989. Eleven years later in the year 2000, Marta’s missing person report was canceled after police claimed they made contact with her in Florida. However, it was later revealed that the woman they’d made contact with was Rodriguez-Cruz’s second wife’s sister who was pretending to be Marta, including providing Marta’s personal identification materials that Rodriguez-Cruz had given her.

It would take nearly years for answers, but in 2017 Rodriguez-Cruz was arrested and charged with the murder of Pamela. Months later he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and admitted that he indeed killed her. He claimed that they got into an argument about his lack of employment and it escalated to him beating and strangling her to death. Rodriguez-Cruz did lead police to the location where he said he’d disposed of Pamela’s body, but the area has been paved over and, according to Pamela’s brother, only a part of her remains could be recovered.

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Just a mile away from that location in 1991, Marta’s remains were found along Interstate 95. It took many years, but Marta was finally identified. Any charges related to her case have yet to be publicly announced.

Rodriguez-Cruz only received a 12-year sentence for murdering Pamela in exchange for telling investigators where they could find her remains.

Please share this story regarding the disappearance and murder of Pamela J. Butler to continue the conversation about toxic relationships, domestic violence, and internet dating safety. She is our sister and her life matters.

 

MISSING (10/09/2018) — Kayla Nicole Swanigan Went to Meet a Friend but Never Showed Up

Could domestic violence have turned deadly for a young mother? Police are trying to piece together what happened to Kayla Nicole Swanigan from Detroit, Michigan, who went missing in October 2018. Her aunt, Sabrina, told Fox 2 Detroit that the last time she saw Kayla, the 24-year-old had a black eye and was being shoved in a vehicle by her abusive boyfriend.

“She’s steady saying, ‘It’s okay auntie, it’s okay auntie,” Kayla’s aunt said. “But he’s steady shoving her in a car. It’s not okay, love if somebody is pushing you in a car.”

Sabrina also stated that Kayla’s relationship with her boyfriend was a volatile one, even escalating to an altercation where Kayla shot him in the summer of 2018. The two would break up for short periods of time only to get back together.

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“I’m fearing that he has killed her,” Sabrina said. “She shot him. What would you do if someone shot you and came back to you?”

On the day Kayla disappeared, she was at home in Detroit with her daughter and a friend. She left around 2:30 p.m., telling them that she was leaving to meet up with a male friend on the west side of the city. Police were able to talk to the man that Kayla was scheduled to meet, but he told them that she never showed up.

According to Sabrina, when she spoke to police she was told that the boyfriend violated his parole and was on the run, but they were doing their best to find Kayla. Meanwhile, Kayla’s two young children are finding it difficult adjusting to their new lives without their mother.

“She went from being a loving child to now she’s whispering everything,” Sabrina revealed. “She won’t ask anyone to eat. She’s sitting in corners crying, ‘I want my mama, I want my mama.’ What can we do about that?”

At the time of her disappearance, Kayla was 5’4″ tall and weighed approximately 130 pounds. She was last seen wearing a black shirt, jeans, a blue denim jacket, and black and turquoise Champion gym shoes. She also has the name “ARAYLN” tattooed on her left arm.

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“I miss her so much. If anyone knows anything, no matter how small how it is, come forward and speak up,” said her grandmother, Shyrell Harris.

“We grew up together. She’s like a best friend to me. You got all of us worried. Bring my cousin sister home to us, please,” said Daneca Harris.

Anyone with information regarding Kayla’s whereabouts is urged to contact the Detroit Police Department at (313) 596-1800. Crime Stoppers of Michigan has offered a cash reward of up to $2,500 for information that leads to Kayla’s location.

Please share this story regarding Kayla Nicole Swanigan to continue the conversation about her disappearance. She is our sister and her life matters.

MISSING [01/19/2009] — Althedia Vernon Vaught Received a Mysterious Phone Call, Left Her Home, And Vanished

Tomorrow will be the 10th anniversary since anyone has seen or heard from Althedia Vernon Vaught, and her family still waits for an answer as to what happened to the mother of three. On January 19, 2009, Althedia spent the day cleaning her house in Tulsa, Oklahoma. After setting everything in order, the 42-year-old told her two youngest children that she was tired and was going to bed. However, around 11:30 p.m., Althedia received a phone call from an unknown person. Only taking her cell phone with her and still wearing her pajamas, Althedia left her home without telling anyone where she was going. Her son was in the living room watching a basketball game, but he said he didn’t recall hearing her car start. Althedia didn’t put on any of her jewelry, which was left on her nightstand, and even left her television on in her bedroom, suggesting that she didn’t intend on being gone long.

mA few days later on January 24, Althedia’s vehicle was found abandoned inside the Hillcrest Medical Center parking garage. Surveillance footage shows her car driving into the garage around midnight. Investigators were unable to determine who was driving the vehicle. Another vehicle, a truck with a triple triangle design on the side, pulled in next to Athedia’s dark green four-door 1995 Infinity J30 with the Oklahoma license plate number 804 ZPN about a half an hour later before driving off. That driver has never been identified.

Early on in the investigation, Althedia’s children told a news station that they believed their mother was kidnapped, but still alive. According to them, months after Athedia went missing, her voicemail was changed from a recording of music to Athedia saying her name. They said she sounded as if she was under the influence of drugs.

“She’s a strong woman,” her son Thomas said back in 2013. “I know she’s still alive out there somewhere.”

Althedia has missed her children growing older and having children of her own. They have all moved on, and one of her sons even served time in jail. The family has suffered from her absence and ten years later there are still many unanswered questions in this cold case.

524d6936bfe63.preview-500“It would be very important to us,” Thomas previously said. “It would save a family. We’re losing my brother. My sister is struggling. I’m struggling. It would save a whole family.”

“The two guys that were persons of interest, searched their cars and houses and found no blood or anything,” said Alethia’s daughter Teanna Thomas.

Time has passed, but neither Althedia’s family nor investigators are closer to figuring out what happened to this loving mother. However, police fear that foul play may have been involved in her case.

At the time of her disappearance, Athedia was approximately 5’7″-5’8″ tall and 150-155 pounds. She had black or dark brown hair and brown eyes. She was last seen wearing her pajamas.

Anyone with information is urged to contact the Tulsa Police Department at (918) 596-9143 or Crime Stoppers at 918-596-COPS.

Please share this story about Althedia Vernon Vaught and the mystery surrounding her decade-old missing person case. She is our sister and her life matters.