Interview with Investigator Larry Montgomery 14 August 2006
Larry Montgomery is a retired detective with the Irvine Police Department who was the lead investigator in the Cruz murder. Mr. Montgomery now works as an investigator for the Orange Country District Attorney’s Office and is a member of their Cold Case unit. As such, he is responsible for conducting fulltime investigations of cold cases within Orange County. One of these cases is that of the four murders committed by the killer linked by DNA. As such, he has replaced Pool on the case as Pool’s team has been discontinued, However, he thinks very highly of Pool and uses him as a frequent advisor concerning case details, suspects, etc.
Investigator Montgomery believes that probably one killer did all the crimes, although he admits maybe not all the EAR rapes were committed by that one person. He also thinks the killer may have been killed while committing another crimes (a possibility they looked into extensively). He also thinks each serial killer is unique, so from his experience, he is aware that other possibilities could be correct.
The poster on the AETV website was interviewed by the police on May 6, 1986, at 7:23 pm (this would be two days after the murder which probably occurred about 11 pm on May 4, 1986). He was an acquaintance of Ms. Cruz and in 1986 he told investigators that he had last seen her on April 29th and had last talked to her on the phone two nights before the murder (May 3, 1986). He did not claim to have visited her home before the murder was discovered or recounted her appointment with an old friend for the morning after the murder, nor the sighting of the strange car parked at her home.
The kitten man was never mentioned at the time as a suspect by the poster and no such suspect turned up in the investigation. Inv. Montgomery does remember vaguely that the poster’s father was a weird character who had had several run-ins with the law over the years and was well known to the police.
Cruz had many male admirers. One of these, an unnamed coworker at Bullwinkles, left Bullwinkles with her the night of the murder (not ‘Mike’ as indicated by the AETV poster, nor a group of men as also sometimes indicated by that poster). He became a suspect when he pulled up in a car to the crime scene while the police were there investigating. He seemed very frightened and was questioned immediately. At first he denied that he was with her the night of the murder, claiming he called her and recounting the story of the noise heard as being told to him by Cruz over the phone. But witnesses from Bullwinkles clearly indicated he left with Cruz and Cruz herself that evening had talked to a girlfriend on the phone, to whom she told that she was with the unnamed individual. Eventually the unnamed individual admitted he was there that night but left before 11 pm. The police investigated him and followed him until the forensics of the day eliminated him as a suspect as he did not match the semen or blood in the general categories available to investigators back then.
Neighbors heard Cruz’ car pull in the night of the murder and doors open. The car apparently had a unique sound. The car was seemingly not moved from where she parked it until the crime was discovered and no other cars were seen at the house.
The murder weapon in the Cruz case was probably a wrench that had been lying in the backyard near where the killer entered the property.
Initially investigators looked at Cruz’ male acquaintances, about 7-8 young guys. They were ally systematically removed as suspects. Cruz had many male friends but was not, as far as Inv. Montgomery knows, a drug abuser. In any event, all her male friends were too young to have committed the other linked crimes, particularly the CCC rapes which took place in 1978-9, 7-8 years before. Inv. Montgomery estimates the actually killer was more like 31 at the time while the friends were all about a decade younger. Before the DNA link was made, some LE theorized that the killer may have been a friend of Cruz’ who observed her interacting with an unknown lover, who then killed her out of jealousy or rage. However, the DNA match showed the unknown killer was the same person who left biological evidence at the crime scene.
The guy arrested after he confessed, Gonzalez, was an acquaintance of Cruz' but he had no scheduled meeting with her the night of the crime or after. He had been arrested two nights before for beating up his girlfriend and was out on bail. But his car was impounded and he would have had to have ridden his bike the 28 miles roundtrip from his residence to commit the crime. He became a suspect when he bragged to buddies about having committed the murder and they dropped a dime on him. Later the police taped him telling the buddy incriminating facts. But forensics ruled him out as well.
Some notes from the Witthuhn murder: In the Witthuhn case, it was felt initially that the killer was someone who knew the victim because the crime scene was staged to look like a burglary. The police did not suspect Mr. Witthuhn almost from the start because it was felt he could not have sneaked out of the hospital unnoticed for the necessary amount of time and because he called his wife the next morning and let the phone ring 5 times, then called back and let it ring 20 times (the hospital had a computerized phone system), something an innocent person would do.
While the odd lamp was taken from the scene, Inv. Montgomery does not think it was the murder weapon as he believes it was not sturdy enough. The killer vaulted the high backyard fence both coming and going from the crime scene, even though he did not have to. He was comfortable doing so. A tape was missing from the answering machine which also at the time led LE to think the killer knew the victims, but after the DNA match, they think it could have been incidental. Now Inv. Montgomery does not think Ms. Witthuhn knew her killer.
Investigator Montgomery has looked at this message board and the website. He was a very personable and knowledgeable individual who is highly enthusiastic about solving these cases.