Alma Del Real investigation: What is known and what isn't known yet

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By: Krystal Vivian kvivian@953mnc.com

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated to include information confirmed Thursday afternoon, May 21.

The body of Alma Del Real was found in Marshall County on Wednesday, May 20. Del Real, a 22-year-old South Bend woman, was reported missing in April.

Alberto Cruz, 24, was arrested Wednesday and booked into the St. Joseph County Jail on a preliminary charge of murder in connection to Del Real’s death.

An autopsy was performed Thursday, May 21, in Kalamazoo, Mich.

As police continue the investigation, here’s a look at what has been confirmed and what is still unconfirmed in the case.

WHAT IS CONFIRMED

Del Real was reported missing in April. Del Real went out to Brothers Bar and Grill and then Studio Rumba 305 with a group of friends on Saturday night, April 11, South Bend Police Det. Jen Gobel told 95.3 MNC in April. She was last seen at 3:30 a.m. Sunday, April 12, when a friend dropped her off at her Ewing Street home that evening, Gobel said.

Crime Stoppers offered a $5,000 reward for information that helped police locate Del Real or led to an arrest in her disappearance or death. Family members, friends and local businesses joined in a massive search for Del Real.

A body believed to be that of Del Real was found on Wednesday in a wooded area near Queen Road and S.R. 10 east of Culver in Marshall County, Commander Tim Corbett with St. Joseph County Metro Homicide confirmed Wednesday. A forensic pathologist confirmed that the body is Del Real in an autopsy Thursday, according to a news release from the St. Joseph County Prosecutor’s Office.

Police were able to find the body after receiving information from Cruz.

Cruz was arrested on a preliminary charge of murder at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday and booked at 9:54 p.m., according to St. Joseph County Jail records. Police have 48 hours from the time of arrest to formally charge Cruz or otherwise release him from police custody. 

Del Real’s family was notified about the discovery Wednesday night, Corbett said.

Gobel led the investigation, which was a missing person case with the South Bend Police Department until it became a homicide investigation Wednesday. Gobel will assist Metro Homicide with its investigation.

WHAT IS NOT CONFIRMED

The cause and manner of death for Del Real hasn’t been confirmed, and may not be until toxicology reports are completed. That could take more than six weeks. Police also haven’t confirmed how long Del Real’s body was in Marshall County.

It’s unknown if Del Real made it inside her home on April 12.

It has not been confirmed by police if Del Real and Cruz knew each other. The identify of the person who police said dropped Del Real off at her home is unconfirmed.

Formal charges have not been filed. It’s possible that Cruz might be charged with crimes other than murder in connection to the case, depending on the results of the investigation. He may not be charged with anything.

While police confirmed that Cruz gave them information which helped them locate the body, it is not clear exactly what details Cruz told police or if he made a confession.

It is also unclear how Cruz and the police were put into contact with one another Wednesday, May 20. 

More information will be released about the investigation when formal charges are filed, Corbett said. A final charging decision is expected Friday, according to a news release from the prosecutor’s office.

The investigation is not over, South Bend Police Chief Ron Teachman said Wednesday night. Police are still asking anyone with information to contact Crime Stoppers at 574-288-7867.