A 19-year-old Indiana man has been charged with three counts of felony murder after allegedly enacting a crime spree that authorities have likened to the plot of the horror film The Purge, according to court documents obtained by PEOPLE.
The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department said in a press release this week that Jonathan Cruz was held on $200,000 bail pending an initial hearing Thursday in the Marion County Superior Court, and was charged with a total of 17 counts, including armed robbery and intimidation. Cruz allegedly shot three men – Billy Boyd, Jay Higginbotham and Jose Alberto Ruiz – between May 12 and May 15, police said. All the victims appear to be random, according Marion County prosecutor Terry Curry. Detectives are attempting to link the case to gang-related activities, according to a probable cause affidavit. Cell phone and social media evidence believed to be created by or depicting Cruz hints at the criminal gang link, including images of the teen flashing gang signs and waving weapons. A witness, described as a female, teenage drug customer, told police that Cruz bragged about going on a “purge,” according to an IMPD affidavit. The 2013 film – which has spawned two sequels – depicts an America where the government allows a 12-hour period during which all criminal activity is legal. • Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Click here to get breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases in the True Crime Newsletter.
Boyd’s body was found on a sidewalk with two bullet wounds to the head around 1 a.m. on May 12, police say. A few hours later, Higginbotham was found dead with multiple gunshot wounds by police at 4:20 a.m. On May 14, a victim reported being robbed at gunpoint by two men around 6:00 a.m. Cruz and suspect Steven Clark, 18, allegedly made off with cash and two cell phones. Ruiz’s body was found the next morning in a vehicle parked near an intersection after officers were dispatched at 4:30 a.m. Cruz was arrested on May 16 in a separate matter, and charged at the time with criminal confinement, kidnapping, intimidation and battery. Cruz’s initial hearing is set for Thursday afternoon, and he could face life in prison without parole if convicted.