On July 1, 2020, Patricia Jocelyn Alatorre, 13, snuck out of her house in Bakersfield, California, to meet up with a man she met on the internet. The remains of a young girl were found on July 3, 2020, but would remain unidentified until her murderer, Armando Cruz, 24, admitted to strangulating her and desecrating her body.
In the week leading to her murder, Patricia Alatorre had met Armando Cruz and was communicating with him on Instagram. Cruz had convinced Patricia to exchange sexually explicit photographs. Investigators state Patricia had sent at least 20 pictures to Cruz. Patricia and Cruz had met up before they had met the night her murder her. According to police, the first time they met Cruz forced Patricia to perform oral sex on him. Court documents state that Cruz offered to pay Patricia for sexual acts and threatened to expose the explicit photos she shared with him if she did not meet him.
On July 1, 2020, Patricia’s mom had seen her before she went to sleep. When she went to wake her up in the morning, she found pillows and pajamas in the shape of a person underneath the blanket. Her family had reported her as a runaway, even though she did not have a history of leaving the house in this manner. Her mom tried calling Patricia’s phone it kept going to voicemail; when they tried to locate her phone, the signal had cut off somewhere around Panama Lane and Highway 99.
Investigators had released the photo of a white pickup truck that was seen in the area before Patricia was missing, which was similar to a pickup truck Patricia seen getting into seen on a Ring doorbell video.
The Murder & Investigation
During their investigation, police were able to obtain the IP address associated with the social media account Cruz was using. Police were able to make a connection between Cruz and the white pickup seen on surveillance videos. Cruz was arrested on July 5, 2020.
During the interrogation, Cruz told police how he intended to kill Patricia, describing how the night unfolded. Cruz told police how he drove away with Patricia, even though she was yelling and screaming that she did not want to. At some point, Cruz raped Patricia, who was yelling for him to stop. Cruz held his hand over his mouth while sexually assaulting her for several minutes, causing her death.
Cruz then used duct tape to cover Patricia’s mouth and bound her arms and hands duct tape, to ensure she was deceased. He proceeded to have sex twice with her remains. Using lighter fluid, he would set her remains on fire. He told police where he left her body, which is when they made the connection between the remains found on July 3, 202. Patricia’s remains were found wrapped in a red sleeping bag near Aviation Boulevard.
Cruz also told police where he threw Patricia’s phone, which was found where he said, near Highway 99 and Herring Road.
In addition to first degree murder, rape, and kidnapping, Cruz has been charged with contacting a minor to commit a sexual offense, oral copulation with a person under 14, lewd or lascivious acts with a child under 14, unlawful sexual intercourse, possession of matter depicting a minor engaged in sexual conduct, exhibiting harmful matter to a minor, contact with a minor with intent to commit a sexual offense, and mutilation of grave remains, all felonies. The misdemeanor is a single count of destroying or concealing evidence.
Cruz has been charged with 1st degree murder, rape by force, oral copulation by force victim under 14 years of age, oral copulation with child when defendant is 10 years older, Lewd and lascivious acts with child under 14 with force, lewd or lascivious acts with child under 14, aggravated sexual assault of a minor by force, aggravated sexual assault of a minor oral copulation by force, contact with minor with intent to commit sexual act, contacting minor to commit sexual acct, and possession of obscene matter: minor in sexual acts.
Cruz has plead not guilty and is currently awaiting trial, which has been postponed numerous times. His attorney requested the media be kept out of the trial; the request was granted. Cruz’s next court date is March 1, 2022. If convicted Cruz faces the death penalty.
According to court documents Cruz’s hearing has been rescheduled for June 15, 2022.