Mother indicted for killing of son

Posted: September 18, 2013

The Winchester Star

Christian Cruz
Sherry Cruz
A memorial is built on the front porch of the North Kent Street home where Christian Cruz, 2, died in a June fire. (Photo by Scott Mason/The Winchester Star)

WINCHESTER — A former city woman has been indicted for first-degree murder and arson stemming from the Kent Street apartment fire that killed her 2-year-old son in June.

A Winchester Circuit Court grand jury handed up the indictments Tuesday morning.

Sherry Cruz, 34, now of the 300 block of Possum Drive, Middleburg, appeared in the court later in the day with local attorney Christopher Collins.

Dressed in a blue jumpsuit with shackles around her ankles, Cruz appeared upset at the hearing, but did not say anything other than to whisper with her attorneys.

Judge John E. Wetsel Jr., at Collins’ request, appointed David Hensley as co-counsel in the case because of the nature of the charges.

All are expected back in court at 2 p.m. Oct. 15 — when next month’s indictments are handed up.

Cruz — who was arrested Sept. 6 in Fauquier County — already is charged in Winchester Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court with four counts of child abuse as a result of the fire.

The criminal complaint filed with those charges allege that Cruz ignited the June 18 blaze with gasoline.

Her son, Christian Cruz, was pulled from the family’s burning apartment at 300-302 N. Kent St. and later pronounced dead at Winchester Medical Center.

The boy died as a result of the fire, according to the criminal complaint.

Winchester Fire Marshal Jeremy Luttrell, who could not reveal the exact cause of Christian’s death, said Tuesday that the case is still under investigation.

Sherry Cruz’s four other children — an infant girl, 3-year-old twin boys and Christian’s twin sister — were also home at the time of the blaze.

They are currently staying with a family member, and Cruz is prohibited from having contact with them.

She is being held without bond at the Northwestern Regional Adult Detention Center.

According to the criminal complaint, Cruz has been interviewed by police several times and has given inconsistent stories as to what occurred when the fire started.

Her motive for allegedly starting the fire remains unclear.

Winchester Police Department spokeswoman Lauren Cummings and Luttrell said they could not comment about the details of the case.

Cruz faces life in prison for the first-degree murder charge and up to 10 years in prison for the arson charge.

The child abuse charges — Class 6 felonies — are punishable by one to five years in prison, or up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of not more than $2,500.

There is also a probation revocation charge in Winchester Circuit Court against Cruz because of her Sept. 6 arrest.

She was on probation after pleading guilty in 2012 to several charges including forgery, uttering and obtaining money by false pretenses.

Cruz, at a previous bond hearing, denied ever hurting her children and said she planned to fight the charges against her.

— Contact Melissa Boughton at mboughton@winchesterstar.com