Plumas County murder suspect captured in Peru

mugLaura Beaton
Staff Writer

A woman on the FBI’s most-wanted list for allegedly murdering her ex-husband was captured last Wednesday at a residence in Peru.

“We haven’t had a case like this in the 26 years I’ve been with the sheriff’s department,” Sheriff Greg Hagwood said about the June 4 arrest by Peruvian authorities of international fugitive Nazira Maria Cross, 48, in connection with the murder of Michael Cross, age 55, in July 2008.

Nazira Cross, a Costa Rican national, allegedly poisoned her ex-husband at his vacation home near Frenchman Lake in Chilcoot on July 31, 2008, then drove him to the couple’s ranch in Lovelock, Nevada, and buried him.

According to the Reno Gazette Journal, neighbors in Chilcoot told authorities that Nazira Cross asked them to help get her sick ex-husband into her car July 31 so she could take him to the hospital in Reno, Nevada.

When the neighbors followed up on their friend Michael’s condition, they discovered that he had never been admitted to any Reno hospital.

They notified authorities, who went to the Crosses’ Reno home and found Nazira at the residence. She had made arrangements to leave the country, Hagwood said.

Hagwood, then Plumas County undersheriff, said Nazira was taken to the Reno police department for questioning.

“We haven’t had a case like this in the 26 years I’ve been with the sheriff’s department.”

Sheriff Greg Hagwood
She provided information that led to the recovery of Mike Cross’ body at the Lovelock ranch, Hagwood said.

When asked why authorities allowed the woman to go free, Hagwood said the investigation was in its infancy, and jurisdictional discussions were going on between Plumas County and Nevada.

“She was contacted, questioned and provided information that led to the recovery of the remains,” Hagwood said. Cross’ passport was seized but Nevada authorities couldn’t detain her.

“It’s important to understand that it was a rapidly moving investigation covering a tremendous geographical area. It was a very fluid, dynamic, fast-moving investigation.”

While waiting for the autopsy report, Nazira Cross fled the country and remained at large until the morning of June 4, the FBI reported.

Cross’ federal fugitive poster had appeared on the Sacramento FBI’s website since 2008. According to FBI public affairs specialist Gina Swankie, a recent rebroadcast of information about Cross led to the FBI receiving information indicating that Cross was residing in Peru.

Hagwood said that over the course of several weeks, authorities followed up and identified the region and then the specific location of Cross, which resulted in her arrest by Peruvian National Police.

Hagwood said the county is engaged in a months-long extradition process with Peru. He said this case poses new challenges that the department usually doesn’t have to address: dealing with foreign governments, federal agencies and across state lines.

In a press release from the Plumas County District Attorney’s Office, DA David Hollister extended thanks and appreciation to the FBI, Plumas County Sheriff’s Office, Peruvian National Police, Reno Police Department and Nevada State Attorney General’s Office for their tireless and diligent efforts in apprehending Cross.

Hollister said the DA’s office looks forward to its continued cooperative efforts with the United States Department of State and Department of Justice in navigating international extradition law and bringing Cross back to Plumas County to stand trial.

Hollister added, “This will undoubtedly be a long and arduous process to complete the return of the defendant to Plumas County. I look forward to the day Ms. Cross is returned to our courtroom and we have the opportunity to assure justice is served in this case.”

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