A parolee with a long history of violent crime is under arrest for the murder of a woman found dead in her Ponckhockie house last week. On Sunday, Feb. 10 around 2 p.m., Audelis Cruz, 49, was arrested as he stood on a subway platform on 96th Street and Broadway in Manhattan. Cruz’s arrest ended a manhunt that began seven days earlier when police discovered the body of Anita Jacobs-Royer, 45 in her home at 56 Third Ave.
Police believe Cruz, standing six feet tall and weighing 314 pounds, strangled Jacobs-Royer in her home sometime on Friday, Feb. 1, two days before police went to her house at the behest of her sister who told officers that she was concerned because she had been unable to reach her by phone. Investigators later determined that Jacobs-Royers’ Isuzu Trooper was missing from the driveway.
On Monday, Feb. 11, just 30 minutes after Kingston Police posted a photograph of an identical vehicle on the department’s Facebook page, a tip led cops to the SUV which had been abandoned in the parking lot of the SuperLodge motel, not far from Cruz’s residence a short distance up Route 28 at the Budget 19 Motor Inn. The same day, New York State Parole officials issued a warrant for Cruz’s arrest after he failed to make a parole appointment in Poughkeepsie.
After identifying Cruz as a “person of interest” in the homicide, Kingston cops began tracking him. According to one city cop, during the search Cruz was “constantly on the move” evading a manhunt that eventually included personnel from eight different agencies including New York State Parole, the U.S. Marshal’s Service, the NYPD and the Ulster County Sheriff’s Office. Members of the KPD, according to a departmental press release, spent four days in New York City conducting surveillance and seeking clues to Cruz’s whereabouts. After taking Cruz into custody on the parole warrant, KPD Detectives questioned Cruz who, they say, eventually admitted to killing Jacobs-Royer. He was then charged with second-degree murder and sent to the Ulster County Jail with no bail. Police have declined to release a motive for the killing, but one cop with knowledge of the case said that it did not appear that the pair had an intimate relationship or that drugs were involved.
“She was known to help people who were homeless or down on their luck,” said the source. “That was just in her nature.”
First imprisoned in 1986
Cruz fit both descriptions. According to parole officials, he was conditionally released from state prison on June 15 after serving 13 years of a 15-year sentence for robbery. Initially, Cruz who had few ties to Ulster County was paroled to an address in Marlboro where, according to police, his wife lives. By November, he had changed his parole address to the Budget 19, a motel that is frequently used as emergency housing by the Ulster County Department of Social Services. According to one city cop, Cruz got by on very little income, making the rounds of local soup kitchens and spending time hanging around with fellow members of the city’s homeless population.
The 49-year-old Cruz, state records show, has spent the majority of his adult life in prison starting in 1986 when he was sentenced to five to 15 years for first degree robbery. Paroled in December 1993, he was busted the same month for felony criminal sale of a controlled substance and returned to prison with a five- to 10-year sentence. Released once again in December 1998, Cruz was free for less than two years before he was arrested for first degree robbery in March 2000 and sent back to prison where he remained until June. All of Cruz’s offenses, state records show, occurred in Manhattan. Cruz also managed to rack up an array of disciplinary infractions while incarcerated, most notably a 2009 incident at Eastern Correctional Facility in Napanoch, in which he allegedly forged paperwork to steal money from fellow inmates accounts and have the funds sent to his wife. Cruz’s disciplinary record, just during his most recent prison stint, includes nine more infractions for offenses ranging from drug use and possession of tattooing equipment to fighting and vandalism.
Ulster County District Attorney Holley Carnright said Monday afternoon that Cruz could face additional charges once the case goes to a grand jury.