Brenda Woodard, who gave Nikolas Cruz and his brother up for adoption after she was busted for crack possession in 1998, had nothing to say about her biological son’s horrendous crime.
“I’m not supposed to be talking to you,” the 62-year-old said to Daily Mail when the outlet tracked her down at her home in Dania Beach, Fla. “You’ve already cooked me. You’ve fried me in a frying pan. I’m the one-woman wrecking team.”
This is the first time Woodard has been seen since Cruz massacred 17 people in the Parkland school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14. Cruz was charged with 17 counts of murder and 17 counts of attempted murder. He will likely face the death penalty in Florida if he is found guilty of the shooting.
Woodard may be asked to testify at Cruz’s sentencing if he is convicted of murder. For now, she has “no comment” as advised by her attorney.
Her past will likely be brought up when it is being decided whether Cruz should live or die.
“It is not necessarily her past, but how her past contributed to his genetic makeup,” David S. Weinstein, a former state and federal prosecutor who now works in private practice, told the Sun Sentinel. “Her use of drugs and alcohol while she was pregnant with him, and how her genetic makeup was passed on to him. It might not carry the day, but it will give the jurors another mitigating factor to consider.”
Although Woodard was not present in Cruz’s life following his adoption as a baby, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, the chairman of a state commission investigating the shooting separate from the prosecution, said his family background is relevant up to three generations.
“We are looking heavily at his background and his whole life,” he said.
So who is Brenda Woodard, Nikolas Cruz’s biological mother?
1. She has an extensive criminal record.
Florida Department of Corrections
Since the 80s, Woodard has been arrested at least 28 times, court records show. Her rap sheet includes multiple drug charges, burglary, battery, car theft, weapons possession, domestic violence and more. Her latest arrest was in 2011.
In 1998, Woodard was busted for crack possession in Fort Lauderdale while pregnant with Cruz. She spent 18 months in prison for stealing a car and fleeing law enforcement and beat a former roommate with a tire iron at a senior living facility.
She has been in and out of prison several times over the last few decades.
2. She was homeless.
The Miami Herald reported that Woodard was homeless for some time in the 2000s. She was arrested multiple times for trespassing and panhandling and was often seen holding a cardboard sign that read, “Homeless and hungry god bless you.”
3. She gave Cruz up for adoption as a baby.
When Cruz was born, he was put up for adoption. He was adopted by Roger and Lydia Cruz who also adopted Woodard’s third child Zachary, as a baby and lived with them ever since.
Woodard played no role in Cruz’s life after his adoption.
4. Her daughter is in prison.
Florida Department of Corrections
Woodard’s daughter and Cruz’s half-sister, Danielle Woodard, has served several stints behind bars and is currently in prison as a habitual offender. She is scheduled to be released in 2020.
She has been arrested at least 17 times, according to court records. Her record shows she has also been convicted of attempted second-degree murder, cocaine possession, battery of a police officer, and credit card fraud.
There is no evidence that Cruz ever met his half-sister.
Sarah Gangraw writes about all things news, entertainment and crime. You can follow her on Instagram and Twitter.