The debate over whether or not violent movies, TV shows and music should be directly blamed for one's criminal actions has raged for decades. And the consensus is that movies don't kill people, people kill people. But one teen is placing all the blame for his heinous actions on the blockbuster horror franchise The Purge.
19-year-old Jonathan Cruz is accused of killing three people over the course of four days. He claims he was 'purging', which is a direct reference to the Blumhouse series of thrillers that allow criminals to roam free for one 24 hour time period, committing any and all criminal acts without repercussions. The third movie in the saga its theaters this summer, with The Purge: Election Year finding a presidential candidate locked out on the streets, running for her life.
The teen's rampage, which happened in Indiana, stretched from May 12 to May 15. According to documents, Cruz faced off against one eye-witness, explaining that he was in the middle of 'purging'. The term was first introduced in the original 2013 The Purge starring Ethan Hawke and Lena Headey. Cruz also allegedly sent a number of text messages out to unnamed sources that directly referenced the movie. Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry had this to say, as reported by The Wrap.
"The charges against Mr. Cruz arise out of statements made to several witnesses, photos, videos and text messages taken from a phone seized from him when he was arrested on May 16."
Cruz is accused of murdering Billy Boyd, Jose Ruiz and Jay Higginbotham of Indiana, and he is being held on charges that he kidnapped a woman at gunpoint sometime during this same stretch of time. The female victim in question informed police that Cruz had sequestered himself on the the east side of Indianapolis, where he was also robbing people, presumably at gunpoint.
The 19-year-old now faces 17 charges. They include the three counts of murder, along with attempting robbery that resulted in injuries, two counts of robbery resulting in serious bodily injury, armed robbery, intimidation, two counts of pointing a firearm, and criminal gang enhancement. Cruz could be facing the Death Penalty. The victims were described as 100% random by court documents.
Cruz is now in jail, facing completely unrelated charges. Universal Pictures has no plans to halt the release of the upcoming Election Year sequel, which arrives just in time for the July 4th holiday on July 1. Made on shoestring budgets, the first two Purge movies have gone onto gross more than $200 million. This is the first time the movies have ever been the subject of a real-life murder investigation.