Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Daring Escape of the
Texas 7

Rodriguez

Michael Rodriquez (Texas Department of Criminal Justice)
Michael Rodriquez
(Texas Department of
Criminal Justice)

Michael Anthony Rodriguez, 38, was born in San Antonio, Texas, on October 29, 1962. Like Joseph Garcia, he still had ties there following his escape from the Connally Unit, and both men were convicted murderers, but that was as far as the similarities between the two men went. While Garcia worked and lived as a blue-collar laborer and drank cheap beer in less than desirable bars, Rodriguez ran his own restaurant, dressed fashionably, wore a Rolex, and drove around town in his yellow classic Mercedes-Benz. He attended the private Central Catholic High School in San Antonio, and was always looking toward the future. Ironically, the detective who investigated the murder of Rodriguez's wife and helped send Rodriguez to prison was an old classmate from Central Catholic.

While still in his twenties, Rodriguez worked at a local Taco Bell fast-food restaurant and saved his money diligently to put toward his dream of opening his own Mexican restaurant someday. After saving $9,000, he asked his father, Raul Rodriguez, for a $15,000 loan to go with what he had saved. His father, who owned his own business, a convenience store, wanted to see his son succeed and he agreed to loan him the money for the restaurant. As a result, Rodriguez soon opened the Taco House restaurant, and it became an almost instant success. By 1992, Rodriguez and his wife, Theresa, were living well. It was at about that time that Rodriguez decided that he wanted to become a teacher, and he began taking courses in education at Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos.

While attending classes, a young woman caught Rodriguez's eye and he began writing letters to her expressing his affection. He described himself to the young woman as a lonely widower. To others, however, particularly his brother, Mark, he had complained how his wife had gotten fat after they were married and he began exploring ways to get rid of her. With Mark's help, murder became an option that they began to explore.

Mark was a cocaine dealer at the lower end of the drug trafficking spectrum, and he always seemed to be in need of money. Theresa, 30, was more than adequately insured, with two $150,000 life insurance policies in her name listing her husband as the beneficiary. Before long the two brothers began to conspire to kill Theresa. Mark assured Michael that he could find a killer, and that he would do so for $50,000 of the insurance money that he said he would use to expand his cocaine trade.

The two brothers found Roland Ruiz, 20, an ex-con who had just gotten out of jail on robbery charges. Ruiz needed money, so he agreed to kill Theresa for $2,000.

The plan called for Michael and Theresa to drive to Macaroni's restaurant, where Ruiz would be waiting. He would shoot Theresa in the parking lot as she and Michael arrived for dinner. However, Ruiz backed out at the last minute. There were security guards on the premises, which he had not expected. After their plans went awry several more times, the three men finally decided to commit the murder at Rodriguez's home. It would be done at night, when Michael and Theresa returned home from an outing.

It was on an evening in October 1992 when the plot was finally brought to fruition. Michael and Theresa had gone out to the movies to see The Prince of Tides, with Nick Nolte and Barbara Streisand. As Rodriguez was pulling the Mercedes into the garage, Ruiz ran up to the passenger side of the car and shot Theresa one time in the head as she opened the car door to get out. Ruiz fled afterward, and Theresa died almost instantly.

Ruiz's mother, suspicious because of all the new clothing and other items he was buying, knew that her son had been up to no good and kicked him out of the house. Soon, however, his money was gone.

The police were onto the three men within days. They learned, among other things, that Rodriguez had gone out drinking with friends on the night of his wife's funeral, something a mourning husband wouldn't likely do. They also learned about the letters that he had written to the young woman at the university claiming to be a widower before the fact. And then they learned about Ruiz, who broke down and confessed after being confronted about Theresa's murder.

After being confronted by the police with Ruiz's confession, Michael Rodriguez also confessed to the plot to murder his wife.

Michael Rodriguez, along with his brother, Mark, received life sentences for Theresa's murder. Roland Ruiz received the death penalty.

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