Cottonwood police credit TV show with helping solve 1997 homicide

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Cecilio Cruz By Jennifer Thomas Cecilio Cruz By Jennifer Thomas
Cecilio Cruz and Detective Sgt. Tod Moore By Jennifer Thomas Cecilio Cruz and Detective Sgt. Tod Moore By Jennifer Thomas

COTTONWOOD, Ariz. -- Cottonwood police have arrested a suspect in a cold-case homicide after years of investigation and help from a television show.

Marisol Gonzalez, 17, was found dead in an alleyway just a short walk from her home on March 25, 1997. She was pregnant at the time.

According to police reports, Marisol had been shot once in the face.

Police long suspected that Cecilio Cruz, Marisol's ex-boyfriend and father of her unborn baby boy, was the culprit.

"Through the years Cottonwood Police worked tirelessly but were unable to give a definitive answer to Marisol's family as to what may have happened to her that fateful night," Sgt. Tod Moore said in a news release.

Last year, police reached out to TNT's "Cold Justice" television show. In October, the "Cold Justice" team arrived in Cottonwood and over a two-week span assisted in the investigation.

Moore said having seasoned homicide detectives, a CSI and a successful homicide prosecutor with a proven track record assisting in the investigation was a godsend.

During the time "Cold Justice" was in town, more than 90 leads were looked at and several of them were interviewed, many for the first time, according to Moore.

Since the episode about Marisol's murder aired in February, Moore and his team continued to work the case.

Late last week, police received an indictment on Cruz for second-degree murder and manslaughter. An arrest warrant was issued.

Cottonwood police detectives and officers from several other agencies located and arrested Cruz in Tucson Tuesday morning.

He was booked into the Pima County Jail where he is being held on $100,000 bond.

"I am glad we got to bring this chapter to a close for the Gonzalez family and the Cottonwood community as a whole," said police Chief Jody Fanning, who was one of the original investigators assigned to the case in 1997.