BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — An Inglewood man who could face the death penalty in connection with the death of a 13-year-old Bakersfield girl told investigators in graphic detail how he killed the victim, where he dumped her body and also the location where he threw her cellphone outside his truck as he traveled on Highway 99 back to the Los Angeles area, according to newly released court documents.
Armando Cruz, 24, said he left the body of Patricia Alatorre wrapped in a red sleeping bag behind a large construction vehicle in the area of Aviation Boulevard and West 118th Street in Inglewood, the documents say. Investigators learned the body of an unidentified female had been found there the night of July 3, and the details from the crime scene were “extremely similar” to what detectives had learned from Cruz, including that her body had been set on fire.
Cruz and Alatorre connected on social media, he told detectives, and he said he killed her when she screamed and resisted as he sexually assaulted her. He said he twice drove to Bakersfield to meet with her.
Alatorre was initially reported as a runaway on July 2. She was last seen by her siblings around 11:30 p.m. on July 1 when she said she was going to bed, her mother told police.
Her mother said she went to Alatorre’s bedroom the next morning to wake her up but her daughter wasn’t there, the documents say. There were clothing items and pillows placed under a bed sheet in what the mother believed may have been an attempt to make it look like Alatorre was asleep under the covers. She told police she tried calling her daughter but the calls went straight to voicemail. A neighbor’s Ring doorbell camera captured Alatorre entering a white pickup.
Conversations were found on Alatorre’s Instagram account between her and a man later identified as Cruz. During their online conversation, Cruz offered to pay her for sex acts and threatened to leak inappropriate photos of Alatorre online unless she replied to him, according to the documents.
Advised of the investigation, Los Angeles police tracked Cruz to a studio apartment in Inglewood. A white pickup registered in Cruz’s name and matching the description of the suspect vehicle was parked near the apartment.
Detained for questioning, Cruz described communicating with Alatorre through Instagram and twice driving to Bakersfield to meet her, according to the documents. He described in detail how he killed her and where he left her body. He told investigators he covered Alatorre’s mouth and nose with duct tape to make sure she was dead.
Cruz told detectives that as he drove back to Inglewood he stopped in the center divider of southbound Highway 99 at the interchange with Herring Road and threw Alatorre’s cellphone in bushes along the roadway. Police say in the documents a cellphone was found in that area.
Cruz has pleaded not guilty to a dozen felonies including first-degree murder, kidnapping and rape. He’s next due in court Sept. 2.