Arrest made in 2000 Racine County homicide

Posted at 12:06 PM, Sep 11, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-11 23:08:44-04

STURTEVANT -- A 17-year-old cold case is back in the spotlight and could soon be closed. Racine County investigators made a break in the case, identifying two suspects in the death of Juanita Zdroik, a mother of three killed in 2000 - just days after her 39th birthday.

Zdroik was killed February 7th of 2000. A call for a body on the side of the road led Racine County sheriff’s deputies to Highway K in the town of Raymond nearly 18 years ago. In a snow bank, Zdroik laid lifeless with a gunshot wound to her head. 

“The deceased female was identified as Juanita Zdroik, a resident of Milwaukee County," Racine County Sheriff, Christopher Schmaling, said.

The Racine County Sheriff’s Office then led an investigation into Zdroik's death, but the case remained open for more than a decade without any leads until recently when blood from the victim of a double homicide in Milwaukee, a killing that happened the same day Zdroik was killed, was found on Zdroik's pants linking the two cases. 

“An extensive investigation was conducted and ultimately we identified Miguel Cruz and Elias Burgos as the primary suspects in Juanita’s homicide," Sheriff Schmaling said.

Last month Cruz was located and arrested in Tampa, Florida where he awaits extradition. A warrant has been issued for the arrest of Elias Burgos. He’s believed to be hiding in Puerto Rico.

According to a criminal complaint, Cruz faces a charge of first degree intentional homicide with the use of a dangerous weapon. In the complaint a witness told investigators Zdroik witnessed a double homicide before she was killed and Cruz and Burgos feared she might tell police. The witness went on to say he saw, “Miguel Cruz shoot [Juanita Zdroik] once in the right side of her head near the back…” The witness then stated, "[Juanita Zdroik] immediately fell to the ground in the gravel area at which time Miguel Cruz re-entered the van and stated, 'This is what happens to snitches!'"

The suspect in the double homicide has been convicted and Sheriff Schmaling said Juanita's children hope the potential arrest of both men accused of killing their mother leads to in a greater sense of closure.