Ana Julia Quezada has led at least three lives. The first one was in Dominican Republic, where she was born in 1974. The second one was in the northern Spanish city of Burgos, where she arrived in December 1995 with her two daughters Ana and Judith, ages four and two; the eldest child died in March 1996 after allegedly falling out of a seventh-floor apartment window. Quezada’s third life began five years ago and unfolded in the southern province of Almería, where she settled down in the tiny locality of Las Negras, three kilometers from the spot where eight-year-old Gabriel Cruz went missing on February 27 of this year.
Quezada and Gabriel’s grandmother were the last two people to see the child alive, right before he set out for his cousins’ house just a short distance away in Las Hortichuelas, a cluster of houses inside Cabo de Gata Natural Park with a registered population of around 70.
Investigators had been suspicious of Quezada, who was in a relationship with Gabriel’s father Ángel Cruz, because of the attitude she displayed throughout the search. Her “over-reactions” (“She transitioned from great displays of affection for the relatives to complete detachment”), her “gratuitous comments” (“She gave explanations that nobody had asked for”) and her “overacting” in front of the television cameras (“Kissing the child’s father, underplaying her own discovery of a shirt belonging to Gabriel at a spot that had already been searched”) all made her a suspect.
Carmen put up with her because she was her son’s girlfriend, but she did not like her at all
Now, the National Police are also looking into her past in Burgos, where officers reported that Quezada was in such a nervous state following her child’s death that it was impossible to take a statement from her on that day. During her time in Burgos, Quezada also filed complaints for “insults and psychological abuse” against her then-partner, according to police sources.
Quezada was fond of exhibiting her achievements and feelings on social media, where she said that she had studied “at the University of Life and Personal Experience.” She was never alone, and there were several men in her life. One of these was the father of her second daughter, Judith.
In Almería, she teamed up with another man to set up a bar called Black in Las Negras five years ago. That partnership did not go well, said sources familiar with the situation. Quezada had put the establishment in her name, even though it was her boyfriend who was running it. The conflict made waves in this small coastal municipality. The man has told investigators that “Ana Julia is a woman of expensive whims. She likes to get herself new cellphones all the time.”
After the breakup, Quezada found herself out of a job at age 43. She was accustomed to sending “quite a lot of money to her mother back in Dominican Republic,” said sources in the investigation. She became financially dependent on Ángel Cruz, and moved in with him. Cruz’s house is located in Puebla de Vícar, the same place where she was arrested at around 1pm on Sunday as she attempted to park her car in the garage, carrying Gabriel’s body in the trunk.
Despite her outward charm, which has been underscored by people who did not know her well, Ángel Cruz’s family “could not stand her.” Ángel met Ana Julia a year and a half ago, after he broke up with Gabriel’s mother, Patricia Ramírez. According to family sources, neither the grandmother nor the child had a good relationship with her. “Carmen [the paternal grandmother] put up with her because she was her son’s girlfriend, but she did not like her at all, and said that she was manipulating Ángel,” said relatives.
As for little Gabriel, he had openly rejected her. One time that Quezada went back to Dominican Republic on a trip, the child said he did not want her to come back, said sources familiar with the case.
At that point, Ángel and Ana Julia were preparing to settle down in another family property known as “Cañada de la Soledad,” located in Rodalquilar. It is on this property – which she had the keys to as they were having the house painted – that Quezada concealed Gabriel’s body. The Civil Guard officers on surveillance duty watched her take the corpse out of a water deposit and load it into the trunk of her car. She was arrested as she drove back to Puebla de Vícar.
By then, Quezada had already been the prime suspect in the disappearance of Gabriel Cruz. The family suspected too, but had hoped until the last minute that the child would still be alive. It was not to be.
English version by Susana Urra.