An Inglewood man is accused of traveling to Bakersfield to meet a 13-year-old girl who he allegedly raped, killed and then set on fire, court documents show.
Armando Cruz, 24, pleaded not guilty to charges including murder, kidnapping, rape by force and aggravated assault Wednesday in connection with the death of Patricia Alatorre.
Patricia Alatorre's family wrote on GoFundMe that they lovingly called the girl “Slim Jim” for her skinny figure and that she was the baby of the family, the youngest of eight children. She loved the color blue, was loud and always spoke the truth, was a Tomboy, and loved sports.
The family held a vigil for the girl Monday that drew 300 mourners. She reportedly turned 13 just two months before she was killed.
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Bakersfield police allege in a document submitted to Kern County Superior Court that Cruz met Alatorre on social media, and sent her explicit photos. He also allegedly coerced her into sending more than 20 images of herself. Police said Cruz convinced the girl to meet him on two occasions, and police said he knew she was 13 years old.
In the first meeting, police alleged Cruz drove from Los Angeles to Bakersfield and forced the girl to perform sex acts.
The second time they met, on July 1, the girl did not want to go with Cruz, police said. He drove her around the block from their meeting place, despite her pleas and screams, police said.
He is accused of raping the girl before he ultimately strangled her.
Police allege he killed the girl because he was afraid of getting caught.
He was accused assaulting her again, before setting her body on fire.
It wasn't disclosed where she was slain or where her body was found.
Cruz was arrested July 5.
The girl’s family said on their GoFundMe page that she went missing for the night, and after several days of searching for her, eventually authorities informed them they discovered her remains.
The family says the girl loved making TikTok videos with her niece, and thought she’d one day be famous for making videos.
The GoFundMe had raised nearly $40,000 by Wednesday. The page says the girl’s father lives in Mexico, and needs help traveling to the United States to say goodbye.
Cruz was being held without bail. It was not immediately clear if he had retained a defense attorney.