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Girlfriend defends man accused of 4-day 'Purge'

Posted at 2:47 PM, Jun 02, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-02 17:46:12-04

INDIANAPOLIS -- The girlfriend of a man charged with going on a four-day killing spree defended him Thursday, saying that he's "a little wild" but not "evil".

Johnathan Cruz, 19, was charged Wednesday with three counts of murder, two counts of robbery resulting in serious bodily injury and one count each of armed robbery and intimidation, all as part of what Prosecutor Terry Curry called a "four-day purge" through Indianapolis.

His girlfriend, Angela Barger, defended him after his initial court appearance Thursday afternoon in Marion County Criminal Court 3.

"He's not evil like they're making him out to be," Barger said. "He's fun. Not violent."

The mother of Cruz's 3-month-old was also in court.  She says he is innocent.

"Caught I highly doubt it. Why? Cause it's not him. I've known him for two years and have a kid with him," said Ricki Cline. 

Investigators have linked Cruz to a string of murders between May 12 and 15 of this year.

READ MORE | Prosecutor: Indy man went on 4-day 'Purge'
What is a 'Purge', and are they happening in real life?

MAP | See all of Indianapolis' homicides in 2016

IMPD Chief Troy Riggs says Cruz is behind bars in part because someone in the community stepped up and came forward.

On May 15, police interviewed a juvenile female who told them Cruz was her drug supplier. She said Cruz had told her about shooting and robbing several people.

Cruz also reportedly said he had been "Purging" – referencing the fictional 2013 movie "in which the United States government sanctioned an event in which all crimes to include rape, murder, arson, assault and theft is legal from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. the next day."

The girl told police Cruz said he'd shot a man in the back of the head and neck with a small-caliber weapon – consistent with the murder of Billy Boyd. She also said she'd seen Cruz previously with a black, .22-caliber revolver.

She also said Cruz had attempted to show her a video on his phone of a shooting, but she refused to watch it. She told police she could hear gunshots and saw a body fall in the recording.

"I've been in the video's they've talked about and it wasn't him shooting anyone," Barger said. "They say he shot somebody in the dark on a video. He didn't."

Police recovered a number of text messages from Cruz's cellphone. In one, Cruz allegedly says, "I Purge every night now … since im dieing someone else Has to."

The texts also contained the following conversation between Cruz and his mother, Tonya Wight:

  • Mom to Cruz: What r u doin
  • Cruz to Mom: *Screenshot Fox 59 news-story* "Breaking: Homicide detectives are investigating an early morning fatal shooting on the east side"
  • Cruz to Mom:*Screenshot Fox 59 news-story* "Man found dead on city's north side"
  • Cruz to Mom: Delete those after u read it
  • Mom to Cruz: Do u know they can still pull up deleted history
  • Cruz to Mom: Yep Ima get a new phone soon say mine was stolen

In a text message sent May 12 at 1:19 a.m. – shortly after Billy Boyd's body was found – Cruz appears to refer to Boyd's murder: "Nah bro, I just popped a [expletive] for no reason, bro. Slumped his [expletive] for nothing, bro. He didn't have nothing in his pockets."

We spoke Thursday with Billy Boyd's family. Watch our interview with them below.

The prosecutor's office says Cruz appeared to have chosen his victims at random.