George De La Cruz was sentenced to life in prison for murdering his estranged wife, Julie Ann Gonzalez. Pic credit: Texas Dept. of Criminal JusticeThis week on ID, On The Case With Paula Zahn looks at the disappearance of 21-year-old Julie Ann Gonzalez from Austin, Texas. Gonzalez was considered a responsible and doting mother of a 2-year-old daughter; her family said she had no reason to run away.
Her car was found abandoned in a Walgreens drug store parking lot. She had worked as a pharmacy technician at another Walgreen’s.
After an initial search, investigators concluded that Gonzalez was murdered by her estranged husband, George De La Cruz. Her body has never been found.
As the last person to see Gonzalez alive, police were instantly suspicious of the man who was embroiled in divorce proceedings with the missing person.
He told the police that she’d been behaving strangely when she arrived at his home to pick up their daughter. He said she’d changed her mind and asked if she could leave the child with him for a few days.
“She looked completely different. She kind of looked sad. She was down. She was out of it, not there. Not concentrating,” De La Cruz said.
Evidence pointed towards George De La Cruz as a murderer
Tracking data from the cellphone company indicated that Gonzalez’s phone had remained near De La Cruz’s home in south Austin in the hours following her disappearance.
Further to this, records showed that someone had accessed Gonzalez’s MySpace account within minutes of logging into De La Cruz’s account from an unsecured network near his friend’s home. A post, supposedly from Gonzalez, read: “I wanted to run away” and “I’m sick of the BS in my life.”
Police believe that De La Cruz murdered his wife and then tried to stage her disappearance to look like she’d fled town.
At his trial, De La Cruz’s lawyer argued that the evidence was mostly circumstantial and painted their client as an immature and irresponsible video game player who struggled to keep his home clean.
They argued that De La Cruz couldn’t murder his wife, tidy up a crime scene, and dispose of a body.
In September 2019, a jury disagreed with the defense’s analysis and found De La Cruz guilty of murdering his wife. He was sentenced to life in prison.
Gonzalez’s family remain disappointed and distraught that they still don’t know the whereabouts of her remains.
At the end of the trial, Sandra Soto, Gonzalez’s mother, demanded: “What did he do with her? That is all I want to know. Where is she? This has never been about George. This has always been about finding Julie.”
More from On The Case With Paula Zahn
Follow the links to read about more murders examined by Paula Zahn.
In 1987 Susan Woods was discovered submerged in her bathtub; she’d been either strangled or drowned. The case lay cold for 20 years until DNA evidence pointed to Joseph Hatley, who was someone the police had never even suspected.
Allison Clark was shot dead at point-blank range as she drove with her 3-year-old daughter. She was the victim of a vicious criminal gang led by Ozzie Nelson Ibarra and Sabino Orlando Martinez that had been terrorizing women in Port Arthur, TX., for a decade.
On The Case With Paula Zahn airs Sundays at 10/9c on Investigation Discovery.
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