Sat, Feb

Cottonwood police reopen cold murder case

Cottonwood News

Marisol Gonzalez, pregnant with child, was murdered almost 15 years ago, but nobody has ever been held to account for the crime.

It’s a cold case, but the Cottonwood Police Department wants to take another look.

CPD Police Chief Jodie Fanning believes the case could be solved if witnesses, who were teenagers at the time of the homicide, decide to come forward now that they are adults and may have children of their own.

An $11,000 reward for information leading to the murderer’s conviction could also persuade witnesses to step forward, considering the current unemployment rate and downturn in the economy, Fanning said.

A small memorial to Marisol Gonzalez still stands in the alley between 13th and 14th streets in Cottonwood on Thursday,  Dec. 22, nearly 15 years after the pregnant teenager was murdered in 1997. New attention has been focused on the crime by the Cottonwood Police Department in the hopes of finally solving the long-cold case.The case was reopened once before to examine trace DNA evidence Arizona Department of Public Safety found that couldn’t be tested at the time of the murder. Although more up-to-date to-DNA tests were performed in 2008, they did not lead to any arrests, Cottonwood Detective Sgt. Tod Moore said.

Gonzalez’s body was discovered March 25, 1997, just before 7 a.m., in an alley between South 13th and 14th streets off East Birch. The alley had been a regular meeting place used by Gonzalez and the father of the child, Cecilio Cruz.

Gonzalez and Cruz broke up several months before the body of Gonzalez, 17, was discovered , according to police records. The baby, a boy the family named Andrew, was due March 17. Since the baby was full term, detectives treated the case as a double homicide.

A cross bearing the names Marisol and Andrew still marks the site where she was found shot in the face only a short distance from her home. For several years, family and friends conducted a pilgrimage on the anniversary of her death with a march from her home to the grave site she shares with Andrew at the Cottonwood Cemetery.

Gonzalez’s goal after high school was to attend classes at Yavapai College. She wanted to be a preschool teacher, according to Moore.

“We’re having some of the same challenges as before. People probably know something, but they’re not talking for whatever reason. You don’t kill somebody without someone knowing you did it,” Moore said.

The detectives are going through all the viable options and conducting a process of elimination to kick out those that do not make sense.

During this 2008 investigation, detectives recontacted some of the old leads, such as Kylee Oso, a one-time Cotton-wood resident thought to have knowledge of the homicide, Moore said.

In an attempt to clear her name, Oso agreed to a polygraph test. The test revealed Oso appeared to have no knowledge or involvement in the murder of Gonzalez and her son, he said.

“We need the public’s help. Someone out there knows something about this crime and regardless of how insignificant you feel that information may be, we need to hear from you,” CPD spokesman Sgt. Gareth Braxton stated in a press release.

Braxton encouraged anyone with information to contact the Yavapai County Silent Witness Program at (800) 932-3232, where callers remain anonymous, or CPD at 634-4246.