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Inmate charged in 2001 Raleigh homicide

Posted March 17

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— A man serving time for sexually assaulting a child was charged Thursday in a 15-year-old Raleigh homicide, police said.

Last May, investigators received information from a source about an unreported homicide that occurred in 2001 or 2002. An investigation identified Isabel Perez Lopez as a potential victim, police said.

Lopez, 34, was reported missing in May 2001 after leaving a residence in the 2900 block of Ligon Street, police said.

DNA from Lopez's family members was compared with a sample from unidentified skeletal remains found off Jenks Road in 2003, allowing authorities to determine the remains were those of Lopez, police said.

John Monroe, a forester, was working along Jenks Road in 2003 when he noticed something unusual.

"I saw a shoe and noticed that was a little unusual and walked a couple of feet further and saw something white and realized it could have been a skull," Monroe said in 2003.

Thirteen years ago, Monroe said he identified more clothing and additional bones.

"A leather belt, brown, and I saw something white next to that," he said.

Investigators named Marcos Candela Dela Cruz, 43, as a suspect in Lopez's death, and a Wake County grand jury indicted him on a murder charge.

Cruz was convicted in Wake County in 2002 of manslaughter and served a little over five years in prison, according to state Department of Public Safety records. He now is serving a 41-year sentence at Brown Creek Correctional Institution in Polkton for a 2002 conviction in Wake County for raping a child younger than 13 years ago.

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