A Glendale man suspected of viciously attacking his ex-fiancée and her mother with a hammer in July was found dead last month after crashing his car in the Angeles National Forest, authorities said on Tuesday.
The wreckage of Brian Cruz’s pickup truck was spotted by a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department helicopter on Sept. 26 several hundred feet down an embankment near Big Tujunga Canyon Road and Angeles Forest Highway.
Inside the vehicle was a severely decomposed body, according to Sgt. Dan Suttles with the Glendale Police Department.
“We suspected it was Cruz, but the state of decomposition was so much that we weren’t able to readily identify him,” he said.
The body was found the day after authorities offered a $15,000 reward for information leading to his arrest, thinking he had fled to Mexico.
Authorities wouldn’t know for sure it was Cruz until Oct. 11 when the Los Angeles County medical examiner’s office confirmed it was him.
Suttles said it is unknown what caused Cruz to go down the embankment because any evidence that would give an idea of what happened was long gone by the time his vehicle was found.
“We don’t know if he wasn’t paying attention while driving or if it was a suicide,” he said. “It’s been such a long time that it’s hard to find evidence of his car braking as there are no tire marks on the road.”
No weapons or abnormal injuries were found by authorities to indicate he died from something other than the crash, Suttles added.
Despite not knowing what happened to Cruz, authorities do think his death occurred right after he allegedly attacked his ex-fiancée and her mother on July 19 in the Glendale home they shared.
Cruz had gotten into a violent confrontation with the two women, using a hammer to attack the pair, according to Suttles. The attack resulted in the former fiancée suffering multiple skull fractures and an amputated finger.
It’s unknown what sparked the attack.
Suttles said Cruz had family in the Palmdale area and it’s believed he was on his way there when the crash occurred.
When the former fiancée was informed of Cruz’s death, Suttles said, “there was no discussion of satisfaction” in what happened.
“This is just a tragic ending to a tragic event,” he said.
Nguyen writes for Times Community News.