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Retired soldier killed in Spring Lake

Posted January 4, 2011

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— A Spring Lake man found dead in his home Sunday was the victim of a homicide, a Cumberland County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman said Tuesday.

A family member went to check on Angel Santiago Delacruz, 83, at his home at 201 Rose St., and found him dead in his bedroom, said Debbie Tanna of the sheriff's office.

The man, Delacruz's son-in-law, told detectives that his estranged wife, Delacruz's daughter, knocked on his door the night before and got no answer.

Authorities initially thought Delacruz's death was an accident, but a medical examiner said he died of asphyxiation, Tanna said.

Lt. Charlie Disponzio of the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office said robbery appeared to be the motive – a few hundred dollars in cash was missing from the home.

Family members on Monday remembered Delacruz as a patriot. He spent 21 years in the Army. 

Born in Puerto Rico, Delacruz was drafted during the Korean War and served two tours in Vietnam. Three of his children pursued military careers themselves.

Juan Delacruz said his father inspired him to join the military. “He set the standard in my family, in my household,” he said.

When Angel Delacruz found out one of his nine children was in the World Trade Center during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, he was ready to fight. 

"When my sister died in 9/11, he wanted to go. He said, 'I'm gonna go,' and that he was gonna talk to somebody," her sister Evelyn Alicea said. 

Retired soldier killed in Spring Lake Retired soldier killed in Spring Lake

Alicea said her father was a kind man who would lend money to anyone in need. 

"I believe what killed him was his kindness," Juan Delacruz said. "My dad was a good man. You know, if you go knocking on his door, you needed something, he'd help you out."

Family members said Angel Delacruz did not drive and walked everywhere. 

"My father's a fighter, so if anything was there, he would have fought anybody," Alicea said. 

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  • wildcat Jan 5, 2011

    My condolences to the family. I do hope they find the killers.

  • michaelclay Jan 5, 2011

    2thec - The the son-in-law's estranged wife who is the daughter of Delacruz knocked on the door the night before and got not answer. The statement never said that it was the daughter of the estranged wife.

  • RB-1 Jan 4, 2011

    2thec - "It was the daughter of the estranged wife who knocked on the door - very poorly worded sentence."

    It's WRAL.

  • RB-1 Jan 4, 2011

    "Born in Puerto Rico, Delacruz was drafted during the Korean War and served two tours in Vietnam."

    Dang it all!

    Praying for those who loved him and praying they get the cowards who would do this to an old man.

  • LovemyPirates Jan 4, 2011

    It was the daughter of the estranged wife who knocked on the door - very poorly worded sentence.

  • boingc Jan 4, 2011

    angimomma

    You don't lend any credibility to the medical examiner?

  • uncw05 Jan 4, 2011

    cghsmom- the victim's daughter is the ex wife of the person who found the victim.

  • SaltlifeLady Jan 4, 2011

    does this say his estranged wife was his daughter?

  • angimomma Jan 4, 2011

    Keep on speculating without facts people...maybe it was Colonel Mustard in the ballroom with a candlestick, huh?

  • angimomma Jan 4, 2011

    Where is the evidence of foul play though, what reason do they have to believe he was murdered other than asphyxiation? That alone is not evidence of murder...one can asphyxiate in many different ways (ie sleep apnea, choking, inhaling ones own vomit,etc) Nowhere in this story do I see mention of strangulation, marks on the victims neck, or anything else that suggests murder? I love how some stories are so sensational without thorough explanations and people just jump on the speculation bandwagons because of it.

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