Weather Updates

Viramontes ‘wanted to rob’ McShane, friend, alleged getaway driver says


Natasha McShane

storyidforme: 56691903
tmspicid: 20630165
fileheaderid: 9601537

Updated: November 23, 2013 6:11AM

Heriberto Viramontes parked Marcy Cruz’s minivan a block off Milwaukee Avenue in Bucktown and told her he didn’t want to involve her in what he was about to do, she said.

He grabbed a wooden bat from the back seat of the messy Chevy and jumped out, Cruz testified, leaving the keys in the ignition.

Viramontes was gone just long enough for one song to play on the radio while Cruz smoked some marijuana, she said. And when he returned with two purses, he jumped into the van through the rear sliding door and told her to “drive off.”

She said she did and stopped in an alley under a set of L tracks where they began to divvy up the credit cards and cosmetics inside the handbags.

But not before Viramontes told her, “The girls were really pretty.

“And that he did some bogus s - - -,” Cruz said.

Prosecutors contend Viramontes left Cruz’s van and attacked Natasha McShane, an exchange student from Northern Ireland, and Stacy Jurich, her friend, leaving McShane unable to speak and walk, in the early morning hours of April 23, 2010.

The women were on their way to Jurich’s home in Bucktown after a night of celebratory drinking when Viramontes allegedly attacked them in a viaduct in the 1800 block of North Damen.

The attack captured international attention, and McShane has remained at home in Northern Ireland while her parents and other relatives attend the trial in Cook County Judge Jorge Alonso’s courtroom.

And though Viramontes allegedly said he didn’t want Cruz involved, she found herself testifying Monday against Viramontes as part of a deal she struck with prosecutors. Viramontes is charged with attempted murder, armed robbery and aggravated battery.

Cruz netted a 22-year prison sentence by cooperating with prosecutors — she originally faced 120. So while she insisted Monday she knew Viramontes planned to rob someone that night, she also found herself having to insist she was telling the truth.

Viramontes’ attorney hammered away in front of the jury at Cruz’s credibility, pointing to Cruz’s personal infidelities and underscoring her inconsistent statements to police and prosecutors over the years.

Cruz also corrected Viramontes’ attorney when the attorney suggested Cruz once worked as a “stripper” to support her children, now 7 and 4. Cruz said she was an “exotic dancer.”

Afterward, Cruz’s father admitted he still wasn’t sure whether his daughter was being honest.

“There were so many stories there that, I don’t know,” Edwin Cruz said in the lobby of the Leighton Criminal Court Building.

Cruz, dressed in light-blue inmate scrubs, testified that she met with Viramontes at a private club at Division and Campbell called “Illusions” that night. They drove near Saints Mary and Elizabeth Medical Center at Division and Western, parked and had sex, she said.

Then they drove around and eventually ended up in Bucktown, which was crowded with people, Cruz testified. Viramontes allegedly told her he “wanted to rob one of them.”

After parking on a “little street” next to an alley, Cruz said Viramontes told her: “I don’t want you to be involved in what I’m about to do.”

That’s when, she said, Viramontes, wearing a gray “Texas” sweatshirt, grabbed the bat with silver tape on the handle from the backseat and disappeared until he returned with the purses.

Cruz said she drove off and parked again under the L tracks because Viramontes wanted to drive. That’s when he told her to look through the purses and grab what she liked.

She said Viramontes took the credit cards, while she grabbed bottles of Dior perfume and foundation spray.

After “not more than five minutes,” Cruz said Viramontes got behind the wheel and drove to a gas station at Augusta and Western, where he planned to use the credit cards to pump gas for money.

On the way to the gas station, Cruz said, Viramontes tossed items from the purses out the window while they were driving. He tossed more in the garbage can at the gas station once they arrived, she said.

Twenty minutes passed, Cruz said, then they left to pick up Viramontes’ pregnant girlfriend and drove to another gas station to again try to pump gas for money, this time near Western and Chicago.

From there they drove to an alley on the West Side, she said. Viramontes allegedly got out of the van, and returned after about an hour with “some TVs.”

They dropped off Viramontes’ girlfriend, Cruz said, and then Viramontes took Cruz home. There, she said, he let her keep the cosmetics and a Blackberry phone.

And she said he told her “if anything happened, to say that he got the purse from a crackhead.”

Cruz admitted she initially told Chicago Police a man at “Illusions” by the name of “Jamaica” wanted to sell her the purses.


Twitter: @SeidelContent

© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit To order a reprint of this article, click here.