— -- A 19-year-old Indianapolis man has been accused of killing three people over four days in what prosecutors are calling a string of slayings inspired by the horror film “The Purge.”
Johnathan Cruz was charged Wednesday with 17 counts, including murder and armed robbery, according to court documents. Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry accused the man of going on a “four-day purge” through the Indiana capital May 12 to 15.
His alleged victims “appeared to be 100 percent random,” Curry said during a news conference Wednesday.
Cruz slumped in his chair today during his first court appearance as the judge read off the charges against him, according to the Indianapolis Star. Neither the prosecution nor the defense said anything in court, the paper reported. It is unclear whether Cruz entered a plea.
After court, Cruz's girlfriend, Angela Barger, said she doesn't believe he killed the three men, the Indianapolis Star reported. Barger said Cruz has issues but contended he's not "some kind of crazy violent person."
The mother of Cruz's 3-month-old daughter, Ricki Cline, said she believes the "purge thing" is being blown out of proportion, the Indianapolis Star reported.
A witness told police May 15 that Cruz told her about shooting and robbing several people, saying he had been “purging” — a reference, prosecutors say, to the 2013 movie starring Ethan Hawke in which all crimes, including rape and murder, are legal one night each year.
In the days that followed, investigators served a search warrant at the apartment of Cruz’s mother, as well as an electronic search warrant to examine the suspect’s cellphone. In one of the text messages police recovered from his phone, Cruz allegedly says, “I Purge every night now .. since im dieing someone else Has to,” according to an affidavit.