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Friday 8 December 2023 Dublin: 9°C

Death penalty sought against man who killed three people after watching The Purge

The 2013 horror film and its sequels are about one day a year when murder is legal.

A PROSECUTOR HAS said he’ll seek the death penalty against an Indianapolis man who he said killed three people in four days in attacks inspired by the horror movie The Purge.

Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry said at a news conference today that his office would pursue the death penalty against 19-year-old Johnathan Cruz in the killings of the three men, which he described as “beyond senseless” and “for no reason whatsoever”.

“We assert that the defendant killed these three individuals as part of a ‘purge’, based upon that movie of the same name,” he said.

“Quite simply, we allege that these were killings for sport, and thus could not be more appropriate for consideration for capital punishment.”

The 2013 film and its sequels are about one day a year when murder is legal.

Cruz is charged with murder in the fatal shootings of 54-year-old Billy Boyd and 40-year-old Jay Higginbotham on 12 May and 44-year-old Jose Ruiz on 15 May.

The court filing requesting the death sentence lists six aggravating factors, including that Cruz is accused of having killed multiple people and done so while attempting to commit armed robberies.

Cruz has pleaded not guilty to murder and other charges, including robbery resulting in serious bodily injury, intimidation and pointing a firearm. His attorney, Raymond Casanova, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.


In a probable cause affidavit, police say a girl told them Cruz was her drug dealer and that he told her “about shooting and robbing several people”.

The statement continues:

Cruz told her he had been ‘purging’ … Cruz stated that he shot a man in the back of the head and neck area two times and that the police would not be able to find the gun shots because he used a small caliber weapon [sic].

Police said Cruz was referring to the killing of Boyd.

The girl also said Cruz tried to show her a phone video of a shooting, but that she refused to watch it. “She stated you could hear gunshots and she saw a body fall,” the police wrote.

Police said Cruz also texted his girlfriend telling her to watch videos of him shooting people on Facebook, adding: “I purge every night now.”

Curry said he met with family members of the victims and explained that a death penalty case would mean “it would be a protracted procedure and the families would be living with this case for a significant number of years”. He said some were in favor of the death penalty and others opposed it.

“Ultimately, we have to make our decision,” he said.

Indiana has not executed an inmate since December 2009, when Matthew Wrinkles was put to death for the 1994 killings of his wife, her brother and her brother’s wife in Evansville.

Comments are closed as the case is before the courts. 

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Associated Foreign Press