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Pleasantville woman accused of murdering daughters in Arizona

Pleasantville woman accused of murdering daughters in Arizona


A Pleasantville woman has been charged with murder in the deaths of her two young daughters in Arizona.

Authorities allege Retta Cruse, 35, killed daughters Aleyah, 9, and Royal, 4, Sept. 8 at her home in Phoenix, according to KVVU-TV in Las Vegas.

Cruse is accused of giving the girls prescription medications, causing them to overdose, the television station reported, citing the probable cause document in her arrest. Police said Cruse barricaded herself in her bedroom and left a handwritten note explaining the situation.

Detectives said a prescription pill was found near the girls' mouths and a bottle of oxycodone also was in the room. Neither girl had obvious injuries, but Cruse was suffering from what were believed to be multiple self-inflicted stab wounds, police said.

Investigators are still awaiting toxicology results.

Kevin Maddox, father of Aleyah, lives in Millville and has custody of her, according to Maddox’s brother Terence Ridgeway.

Ridgeway said Maddox was unable to reach Cruse for nearly two weeks while Aleyah was with her in Arizona.

“On Monday, she (Cruse) thought she and the girls had COVID,” Ridgeway said Thursday. “She isolated herself with the girls.”

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Ridgeway said Maddox and Cruse had been battling over custody of Aleyah for a long time. 

“My whole family is at a loss for words because Kevin was going to court all this time and winning all these cases,” Ridgeway said. “But nobody ever took the baby out of her custody. He was following the court rules. …  We thought the fighting was over because he won custody but now we have to fight for justice.”

Instead of welcoming his daughter home, Maddox is now tasked with getting Aleyah’s remains back to New Jersey.

“Instead of my brother going out there this week to bring his daughter home, he’s trying to find a way to bring her home in a casket.”

Investigators said a man who is the biological father of one of the girls said Cruse was upset over a recent court hearing where she was losing custody of one of her daughters.

On a GoFundMe page set up by Michael Coleman, the biological father of Royal, he said he came home and found the girls dead and Cruse "critically injured."

Maddox's family has also set up a GoFundMe to return Aleyah to New Jersey for a funeral.

Coleman also said that he moved to Arizona with Cruse for "spiritual reasons."

Cruse was arrested after she was released from the hospital Tuesday, and a secured-appearance bond was set for $2 million, according to KVVU-TV.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Sept. 23.

Contact Molly Shelly:


Twitter @mollycshelly

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