MICHIGAN-Sources told the FOX 8 I-Team that US Marshals have arrested a couple wanted in the murder of four-year-old Eliazar Ruiz.
Joanne Vega, 31, and Romaine Tolbert, 36, were indicted on Jan. 14 and they failed to appear in court for their arraignments.
They were taken into custody Friday in Adrian, Michigan, according to US Marshals Northern Ohio, who said in a release that the couple will face extradition back to Ohio. US Marshals said they followed leads across multiple states before finding them at an associate’s home.
US Marshal Pete Elliott stated, “The men and women from various law enforcement agencies who worked this case from day one refused to give up and swore a commitment in the name of Eliazar Ruiz. Strong partnerships across the board enabled the officers to safely arrest these two desperate fugitives on the run.”
Landscapers found remains at a house on Longmead Avenue near West 130th Street in Cleveland on Sept. 20, 2017. The skeleton was covered in bags in the backyard. The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office said the victim tested positive for several illegal drugs, including fentanyl, and suffered two arm fractures.
He wasn’t identified until his mother saw a sketch by Dr. Linda Spurlock, a forensic facial reconstruction artist and an assistant professor of anthropology at Kent State University.
That’s when police learned the mother went to prison in 2017 and left Eliazar with Vega, his godmother. DNA confirmed his identity.
Vega and Tolbert are charged with murder, felonious assault, permitting child abuse, involuntary manslaughter, endangering children, offenses against a human corpse, tampering with evidence and kidnapping.
Eliazar’s aunt, Nikki Clark, told FOX 8’s Peggy Gallek, “We are so relieved they are both in custody.” She said she and other family members want justice.
The family also said they are thankful to Cleveland homicide Detective Aaron Reese who worked on this case.