Suspect in 2003 Fairfield homicide ordered to stand trial

By From page A3 | October 13, 2011

Ricardo Cruz is shown in April 2011 in Solano County Superior Court.

Ricardo Cruz is shown in April 2011 in Solano County Superior Court.

FAIRFIELD — In August of 2010, Ricardo Cruz agreed to give a DNA sample to a pair of investigators who were talking with him about a 2003 cold-case homicide in Fairfield that they had reopened.

Cruz put a cotton swab in his mouth and then put it in an evidence envelope. One of the investigators asked Cruz to go ahead and seal the envelope himself to prevent risk of tainting the sample. Cruz sealed the envelope and may have sealed his fate at the same moment.

After a daylong probable cause hearing Thursday, Cruz, 35, was ordered to stand trial for the brutal stabbing death of  Kathyrn I. Vitagliano.

One of her daughters found Vitagliano dead on the living room floor a few feet from a Christmas tree on the evening of Nov. 26, 2003. Vitagliano was face down in a pool of blood and had been stabbed more than a dozen times. A homemade pie she had been baking for Thanksgiving the following day was still in the oven.

Cruz, the former boyfriend of one of Vitagliano’s daughters, was arrested several months after the 2010 visit with investigators. The DNA sample matched a sample from crime scene evidence stored for years by a state Department of Justice crime lab.

The crime scene evidence at Vitagliano’s Robin Drive home was a minute piece of flesh found under one of the fingernails of Vitagliano’s right hand.

The investigators, Ronald Becker and Jose Cuevas, followed up on the DNA match by reviewing the the alibi Cruz offered to Fairfield police a few days after the killing. He told police he had been at a hospital in San Jose being treated for bronchitis at the time Vitagliano was killed. Cruz said he got to the hospital during the day and did not leave until after dark. Becker and Cuevas found hospital records that indicate Cruz was treated at the hospital starting after 9 p.m.

Judge Mike Nail ordered Cruz to be arraigned Oct. 27. He is jailed without bail.

Becker and Cuevas worked cold-case homicide investigations for the Solano County District Attorney’s Office for two years. Four arrests have been made as a result of their investigations.

Reach Jess Sullivan at 427-6919 or at [email protected]

Jess Sullivan

Jess has covered the criminal justice system in Solano County for several years. He was an embedded reporter in Iraq in 2003.

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