Man charged in sextortion case; police say there could be other victims

Tyler de la Cruz charged with 4 counts of extortion, 3 counts of sexual battery

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A man was arrested earlier this month after he demanded money and sex acts from a woman or else he would expose nude photos of her, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.

Police said Tuesday that they’re seeking other possible victims.

According to an arrest report, a woman contacted the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office on May 7 to report incidents that took place in the Mandarin area. The woman said she met Tyler de la Cruz online five years ago. According to the report, she admitted she sent him nude photos of herself and they had consensual sex.

She told de la Cruz she didn’t want to see him anymore, and then the blackmail started, the arrest report shows. He demanded $1,000 or else he would expose the nude photos and sexual encounter to her family, and she paid him, investigators said.

According to the arrest report, he started contacting her again in February and demanded more money, as well as oral sex. Investigators said the woman paid de la Cruz $4,500 and met him three times in the parking lot of the Publix on San Jose Boulevard in Mandarin, where the sex acts took place.

Investigators said de la Cruz continued to demand money and the woman met him at the Publix on May 4. The arrest report stated he wanted $1,500 and she gave him $200, saying that’s all she could raise.

After sharing text messages with the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office, deputies and Jacksonville police arranged a meeting with de la Cruz at the Publix, and he was arrested on May 8.

He is charged with four counts of extortion and three counts of sexual battery.

As of Tuesday afternoon, de laz Cruz, 30, remained in the Duval County jail on $175,000 bond.

Anyone who has any information related to the investigation is asked to contact JSO at 904-630-0500.

Records show suspect has violent past

In 2017, according to Duval County court records, de la Cruz’s ex-girlfriend obtained a stalking injunction request against him. She told the judge he was sending aggressive, sexually suggestive messages to her and placed a tracking device on her car. She said de la Cruz accused her of cheating on him when he was previously in jail in 2011.

In June 2011, Doug Scott said he followed de la Cruz into the parking lot of a pool hall after he ran him and his wife off the road. Scott, a retired JSO officer, said he looked up and noticed de la Cruz was coming toward his car with a bat.

“He came around like this and he was cussing and carrying on. At the same time, I’m shouting at my wife to get me her gun,” Scott recounted. “He started doing like this then hitting me on the side of the head with a baseball bat, with the end of the baseball bat, and I was leaning over so far that it broke the back of my seat and I was bruised up on the side of my head and my glasses were broken.”

Scott said he got out of the car with his wife’s gun, giving de la Cruz one option.

“I pointed the gun at him and I said, ‘Drop the bat or I’m going to kill you,’” recalled Scott, who said de la Cruz then backed down. “He reminded me of my sons, and that’s one of the reasons why I hesitated to shoot.”

According to arrest reports, de la Cruz left, went to his parents’ house and beat his father with the same bat that he used to attack Scott.

Court records show de la Cruz was arrested on a battery charge

Scott said the state attorney asked him if he should be sentenced to seven years in prison, but they agreed to only one year. Knowing of de law Cruz’s recent arrest, Scott said he feels that wasn’t long enough.

“I made a mistake by telling the state attorney to not send him to prison for seven years," Scott told News4Jax. "I made a mistake.”

When reached Monday evening, de la Cruz’s mother declined to comment on his arrest.

About the Authors: