Eight facing charges in connection with Northampton murder

Crime
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NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – A Hampshire Grand Jury has issued 51 indictments against eight people in connection with the March murder of 44-year-old Daniel Cruz, whose body was found burning in a field in Hatfield the night of March 10.

Northwestern District Attorney’s Office spokesperson Mary Carey told 22News the following individuals are facing charges for their alleged involvement in Cruz’s murder and the concealment of his murder:

  • Nerkin Omar Morales, 22, of Northampton; Murder, Burning Personal  Property, Withhold Evidence from Criminal Proceeding, Conspiracy (two counts), Improper Disposition of a Human Body, Intimidation of a Witness, Unlawful Possession of a Firearm as an Armed Career Criminal, Use of a Firearm in a Felony, and Discharging a Firearm within 500 Feet of a Dwelling
  • Pedro J. Soto-Rodriguez, 21, of Northampton; Accessory After the Fact, Burning Personal  Property, Withhold Evidence from Criminal Proceeding (two counts), Conspiracy (two counts), Improper Disposition of a Human Body, and Intimidation of a Witness
  • Mercedes N. Diaz-Wright, 22, of Northampton; Accessory After the Fact, Burning Personal  Property, Withhold Evidence from Criminal Proceeding (two counts), Conspiracy (two counts), Improper Disposition of a Human Body, Intimidation of a Witness, Unlawful Possession of a Firearm, Unlawful Possession of Ammunition without Identification Card, Misleading a Police Officer, and Subornation of Perjury.
  • Alondra E. Gil, 23, of Northampton; Accessory After the Fact, Burning Personal  Property, Withhold Evidence from Criminal Proceeding, Conspiracy (two counts), and Improper Disposition of a Human Body
  • Chelsea T. Rodriguez, 22, of Northampton; Accessory After the Fact, Burning Personal  Property, Withhold Evidence from Criminal Proceeding (two counts), Conspiracy (two counts), and Improper Disposition of a Human Body.
  • Kimberly A. Perez, 26, of Springfield; Accessory After the Fact, Burning Personal  Property, Withhold Evidence from Criminal Proceeding, Conspiracy (two counts), and Improper Disposition of a Human Body.
  • Matthew M. Ross, 24, of Northampton; Accessory After the Fact
  • Joshua T. Ealy, 20, of Northampton; Perjury

Carey said it is alleged that Morales shot Cruz three times during an argument and altercation at the Meadowbrook Apartment Complex in Northampton the morning of March 10. Soto-Rodriguez was also allegedly involved in the altercation.

“Morales and Soto-Rodriguez immediately involved several other individuals who then actively conspired and worked in concert to conceal the murder,” Carey said. “This group of individuals, among other things, worked to clean blood from the crime scene, dispose of Morales’ clothing worn during the murder, hide the murder weapon, and conceal Cruz’s body until nightfall.”

That’s when the group allegedly brought Cruz’s body to the field in Hatfield where he was found burning. Hatfield police discovered the body after a neighbor in the area of the fire called 911.

Diaz-Wright, Perez, and Ross were arrested by Massachusetts State Police Tuesday morning. They’re all expected to be arraigned in court Tuesday afternoon.

Morales, Soto-Rodriguez, and Ealy are in custody at the House of Correction. Their arraignments have not been scheduled yet.

Gil and Rodriguez are still being sought by police.

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