A DC judge handed Jose Rodriguez Cruz a dozen years in prison for strangling his girlfriend, Pamela Butler. But the plea deal comes with one condition, he has to help detectives find her body.
Rodriguez Cruz killed Butler just before Valentine's Day in 2009. They were in a romantic relationship.
Her family almost immediately suspected him. But, it took until this April for detectives to put together enough evidence to arrest him.
In open court Friday, in a voice barely above a whisper, Rodriguez Cruz admitted to killing her.
"No amount of [prison] time would bring Pam home to us," said her brother, Derrick Butler, outside the courthouse. "The time really isn't that important to us. What we really want is to bring Pam home and give her a proper burial."
Pamela Butler's family is still seeking justice, not just for her, but for Rodriguez Cruz' first wife, Marta Rodriguez. She went missing nearly 30 years ago from Arlington, just days before a court hearing into allegations Rodriguez Cruz had attacked her.
"He got away with that crime, so he was sure he would get away with this one," said Derrick Butler.
If Jose Rodriguez Cruz fails to do everything he can to help police find Pamela Butler's body, the judge warned him the plea deal would be over. He would again face a charge of second degree murder, but first degree pre-meditated murder. That's a charge that could send him to prison not for a dozen years, but for decades.
Rodriguez Cruz expressed no remorse before sentencing. He declined to make any statement at all.
Butler's family said that didn't surprise them. They say he has no conscience at all.