Torres Family
Rosanna Cruz's family wants people to look beyond what she has been called and remember her as a much loved family member.

OGDEN — Rosie Cruz loved to sing and dance.

"She loved to have a good time," said her mother, Lily Torres. "She would have never hurt a soul."

Cruz's family is struggling to make sense of her death. Cruz, 25, and Teresa Tingey, 43, were gunned down earlier this month on Adams Avenue. Ogden police said the women, who were prostitutes, had been solicited by Jacob Daniel Ethridge, 31, and killed.

Investigators said Ethridge walked into the Ogden Police Department, confessing to both slayings and telling detectives he recently had "homicidal thoughts." Cruz's family wants to know why he hasn't been charged with a capital offense, making him eligible for the death penalty.

"He's still got a chance to go outside for fresh air. My sister don't have a chance for nothing," said Mary Berden from her home in LaBelle, Fla. "He took it from her, so it should be taken from him."

Life wasn't easy for Cruz. Her family said she moved from Florida to Utah with her then-husband. They got into a fight and he disappeared, taking all of her identification — leaving her with no way to land a job.

Cruz struggled to get by, ending up on the streets and a life of prostitution.

"She was just trying to make money to come home," Berden told the Deseret News. "I talked to her a few months ago. She seemed like she was struggling. She didn't have a permanent place to live, she couldn't get a job. A preacher's wife was helping her."

Midway through the interview, Berden's emotions overcame her.

"Oh God, it hurts ... ," she said, crying.

"Whenever she could get a telephone, she would call me," Torres said. "I had so many numbers on my phone that she called from. None of them were hers."

Torres last spoke to her daughter about a week before she died.

"She said, 'Mommy, I'm going to be coming home. I'm going to get my ticket on the 17th and I'm coming home.' She found out she had cancer and she was scared. Those were my last words from my baby," she said, her voice choking with tears.

She was the fourth of six children, but Torres said she always called her "my baby." Cruz's family wants people to look beyond what the two women have been called, and remember them as much loved family members.

"It's like everybody's slandering them because they were prostitutes and there's a reason behind everything," Berden said.

"She was such a great person. I mean, she always had to have laughter. Everywhere she went she had to make everybody laugh. No one could be in a bad mood."

The family is now trying to raise money to help bring her body back to their hometown in Florida to bury her.

"I just have no way. I have no money," Torres said.

On Wednesday, a private funeral service was held in Ogden for the family of Teresa Tingey, who was known on the streets as "Wyoming."

In Tingey's obituary, her family called her "the victim of a senseless crime." It said she is survived by four children and one grandchild. She is divorced from her husband, who lives in Evanston, Wyo.

"She was a very spiritual person. Teresa dearly loved her children and provided for them the best life she knew how," her obituary read.

Cruz's family is also trying to learn all they can about the criminal case against Ethridge. He is charged with two counts of first-degree felony murder, but Torres said she wants the death penalty.

"I'd like to see him die the same way they died. Once in the neck, once in the head and make sure he's gone," she said. "Well, let him suffer a little bit because I'm pretty sure he made them suffer."

Weber County Attorney Mark DeCaria told the Deseret News he hasn't ruled out amending the charges to a capital offense.

"We're doing some research to determine whether or not it could be a capital case," he said Wednesday.

At a court appearance on Monday, Ethridge's court-appointed lawyer sought to have him evaluated to determine his present mental state and what it was at the time of the crime. Ethridge, who remains in the Weber County Jail without bail, is set to appear in court again on Sept. 8.


E-mail: bwinslow@desnews.com