Those performances were important for Michael, a little kid already hungry for whatever table scraps of affection he could get.

"It bonded us," Adelia says today. "I don't talk to my brothers and sisters every day. But we all went through it together, and we knew exactly how the other felt. We knew the pain we carried."

Michael was the youngest of 12 born to David Cruz, a hulking weight-room rat who cruised Jersey City on a motorcycle with the Ching-a-Ling Nomads, a Latin version of the Hell's Angels. His intimidating look hid a softy with a keen sense of humor, but by the time his two youngest children, Adelia and Michael, were born, in 1985 and 1987 respectively, much of that cheer had been worn away.

Adelia and Michael's mother, Elena Rivera, was from the Bronx. She was in and out of jail on drug and prostitution charges; during one stay, she befriended one of David's cousins, then followed her home to Jersey. David was in love the moment he saw her.

The youngest of 11 siblings, Michael was closest with his sister Adelia.
Photo courtesy of Adelia Rivera
The youngest of 11 siblings, Michael was closest with his sister Adelia.
Police say Stacy Goff lured Michael into an alley where Alex Cabrera was waiting with a gun.
© Broward Sheriff's Office
Police say Stacy Goff lured Michael into an alley where Alex Cabrera was waiting with a gun.

But Elena couldn't stay away from drugs. She used during all her pregnancies; when she was carrying Michael, she consumed everything, including heroin. When they brought the baby home from the hospital, his pained cries issued unceasingly from the crib. "There was nothing anyone could do to make him stop," Adelia remembers. "It was terrible."

Then when Michael was just 6 months old, his mother died of an overdose. Instead of taking on all the kids, David Cruz parceled the brood off to his extended family in the Puerto Rican neighborhoods near Jersey City's waterfront. The anchor was the kids' great-grandmother Vasquez, an all-smiles matriarch who was already climbing into her 80s and who attributed her longevity to chugging black coffee and laughing at whatever life threw at her.

Adelia went with Vasquez, while Michael was given to his great-aunt and -uncle just across the street. "He was a little comedy kid," recalls Miriam Prosper, his older cousin. "He loved jokes, loved making people laugh, loved the attention."

Michael and Adelia saw more of each other than the other siblings but couldn't shake the idea that they'd been abandoned. "It bonded us," Adelia says today. "I don't talk to my brothers and sisters every day. But we all went through it together, and we knew exactly how the other felt. We knew the pain we carried."

Those emotional knots only twisted more when Cruz died of AIDS when Michael was 8 years old. The family didn't even know he was HIV-positive until seeing the death certificate, Adelia says.

Adelia dealt with the pain by fleeing her fate like a burning house, working hard to outstep the mistakes of her parents. A sober, serious, and bespectacled girl, by the time she was 12, she'd moved in with a friend's family downtown and started working odd jobs for cash. She beat lung cancer at 14 and then four years later got a job at a financial firm. In four more years, she was a manager. Later she went to nursing school.

"There was no time to cry for myself or pity myself," she explains. "I needed to think what my next move was going to be."

Michael was different, though. The past bruised him hardest. "My father was trying to do the right thing," Adelia says. "Michael didn't see it like that. He felt like he was abandoned."

As he got older, the pain aged to anger. Usually goofy and personable, sometimes his mood sank like a torpedoed ocean liner. Doctors speculated he had a bipolar condition and possibly schizophrenia. He was prescribed medications, but the drugs buried him inside a bland, dead-eyed shell. By the time he was 14, he'd quit school and started running the streets.

Adelia tried to act as a surrogate mom. "Michael, you know how our parents died," she would constantly tell her brother. "We were born addicted to that stuff; it would be easy to get addicted again."

"I know, I know," he'd bounce back, before breaking out in a court-jester grin.

But Jersey City was bad news for a kid starving to belong. Everyone Michael grew up with was either in or affiliated with a gang. His family started seeing Michael wearing colors, but they knew he talked bigger than he bit. The tattoos he began accumulating were another smokescreen.

"He looked like a thug," says Tony Torres, a wheelchair-bound family friend who let Michael crash at his place when the teen was bouncing around Jersey City. "But I think he was just hiding himself behind his tattoos, portraying himself as a tough guy."

If there was one place where Michael seemed to actually thrive, it was in a boxing ring. It was his brother Eric, three years older, who got him started. Michael copied everything he did, from his outfits to his hair, neat as the baselines in a big league ballpark. When Eric went to fight, Michael tagged along. In the ring, he showed a natural talent with quick hands. Nearly every practice bout at Rocky Marciano Gym in Jersey ended with a KO. Although he never got a pro fight, talent scouts agreed the kid had talent. "I guess it was all the struggles in our lives, the pent-up aggression," Adelia says.

Although he'd do construction jobs, Michael couldn't keep steady work. His first son arrived when he was 17, his second three years later with a different girl. The child payments started racking up until he was around $4,000 in the hole with the courts.

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33 comments
frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

....................OTHERWISE BASICALLY if these kids have so much free time and their community interests ARE positive then WHY DON"T I EVER SEE THEM VOLUNTEERING like at the park picking up trash or at the hospital running errands or any of the necessary unpaid J O B S that need doing ?

it's simple - they are DRUG ABUSERs who lie and cheat and steal and are wholly undependable and dishonest and will not complete a simple J O B like washing a car for money without screwing even that J O B up somehow = period

they DO NOT take responsibility for their actions or their kids or their lives or anyone else's life which is why they DON'T EVER TRUST EACH OTHER = period

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

...........BOTTOM LINE if you respect yourself and your FAMILY and your FRIENDS

>>>>>the BASICs are,  get an education,  and get married,  BEFORE having kids = period = that's the basis for an ageless LOVE STORY

drug abuse is for those who have NO RESPECT = period

susanjjolly
susanjjolly

my neighbor's ex-wife makes $76 every hour on the computer . She has been without work for five months but last month her check was $16983 just working on the computer for a few hours. read this......................... http://www.work25.com/

mistico241
mistico241

I dont want to speak ill of someone who has passed but the whole truth has not come out with this story. To start savage had a very bad crack and heroin addiction and had robbed a few dealers in the hollywood area and they were looking for him.. then the witness who saw the 2 people fleeing the scene saw a white female with red hair in a ponytail and a tall black male alex is not tall or black . The witness stated " I am black I know the difference" then there is the fact alex had a girlfriend at the time who was not stacy. The so called snitch is also addicted to pills and herion and was on the run from the police for violation of probation and was facing five years. He was even in a serious motorcycle accident and crushed his leg and still ran from the scene and a few days later went to the hospital using a fake name but some how walks into the police station and tells them this story and he walks out scott free... then when alexs hoise was raided the reporter failed to state there were no drugs or guns or weapons in the house or how the police felt they needed to murder the family dog by not shooting him once but 7 times.. or how about how when alex did not stop for the police he did not run any light or speed yet he was punched in the face and yanked out of the car the beat by multiple officers which one was fired and another put on suspension the one who was fired had lied on the police report and this went public to the news ever since that incident the cops have been after alex and I find it funny how just days after he was arrested for this chumped up murder charged the officer who was fired was reinstated.. and the tear dorp on alexs eye was in memory of his uncle.. if it stand for murder as people want to clam then who did savage kill cause he had more than one. And how about how stacy said dred did it and when she was arrested she was living with dred or how just a few weeks ago dred was arrest for another murder.. please look at the truth and dont let an innocent child sit in jail for a crime he didnt do..

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michellejdunne

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jamesafong
jamesafong


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frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

..................one reason we don't have to worry about the negative effects of illegal immigrants - we have plenty of home growns who cost the system without ever being productive citizens

IF one adds the government benefits ALL the related individuals of MICHAEL RIVERA over the years inclduing medical costs for his mother and father paid for by government and no doubt section 8 housing assistance and welfare and food stamps for all his siblings and himself over twenty plus years and then his run in with the law costing police and judicial systems and now his own two kids going forward will also qualify for government assistance for the NEXT eighteen years - it will easily surpass a MILLION DOLLARS of government expense

and it doesn't include the government cost of STACY GOFF and ALEX CABREARA including a trial and incarceration - that will again easily surpass ANOTHER MILLION DOLLARs

.....................AND of course who paid for those cellphones - YUP YOU DID !

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

.................as for YOUNG CIRCLE it also has plenty of positive experiences for normal civilized citizens namely HOT GLASS glassworks and BRITTO and frequent FOOD TRUCKs and other pleasant on-going events

it is well maintained and landscaped and offers cooling splash pools and seating throughout so maybe the GOOD can overwhelm the miscreants and hobos and vagrants to the extent they see to it to behave accordingly

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

........................LOVE has nothing to do with this story

DRUGs are what this is all about and young kids abusing drugs that are simply stronger than they are and when they do want to turn it around they find they are UNemployable and totally UNprepared for responsibility which of course simply primes them to sink deeper down the hole

unfortunately these young kids have kids and the cycle continues

>>>>>the BASICs are,  get an education,  and get married,  BEFORE having kids = period = that's the basis for an ageless LOVE STORY

adelia24
adelia24

Hi frankd4

You should really try doing some research before commenting. My father took care of all his children with his hard earned dollars, which by the way worked for the City for over 20 years, WITHOUT any public assistance. EVER. My siblings and I have worked hard and educated ourselves. Also WITHOUT any government assistance of any kind. We all take care of our children with careers WITHOUT any government assistance. As for my deceased brother's children, they all have very good mothers. Also very educated and are not on government assistance of any kind.

Know your facts before making an ignorant comment.

Blessed day to you and yours.

vidaljudy
vidaljudy

Young Circle hasn't always been so lovely.  Living in the area for over 20 years I've seen the changes. Unfortunately changes are slow and it has always been a haven for the homeless.  I remember when there was a time that you didn't want to be anywhere on Hollywood Blvd. between I-95 and Young Circle after dusk.  Just because you clean up the surface doesn't mean you've cleaned up the entire mess.  Just travel a few streets North and South of the circle and you'll still see the ugly.

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

........................so explain to the IGNORANT world, including MYSELF,  how a single-mom working at SUBWAY can afford TWO KIDS (one by MICHAEL who is now dead so his arrears in child support are a write-off and one by another father apparently no longer even in the kids life) WITHOUT government assistance and section 8 subsidized housing and food stamps and welfare and oBaMacare and free cellphone(s)

the real story here is the TAXPAYERs got screwed

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

...................yes, adelia24, i realize you cannot admit what the COSTs to we the people are because when the government provides all these benefits and financial support and assistance,  well,  quite simply eaten bread is soon forgotten

i know young circle and i know of those who hang out there and keeping it simply WHO PAYS FOR ALL THOSE CELLPHONEs ?

and as for "your siblings",  well, doesn't that include MICHAEL RIVERA ? your telling ME he was current on his obligations, including supporting HIS KIDs and HIS WIFE and paid his rent and provided for his family ? how exactly did he do that ? he was an UNEMPLOYABLE drug abuser so how did he make LEGAL money ?

i very sorry he is DEAD but let's be accurate about what he COST us while he was here and while his future obligations will also be PAID FOR by the government

vidaljudy
vidaljudy

Hi adelia24

I'm so sorry for your loss.  I know Stacy did this, she told my son about it and he spoke with me.  I met Stacy in August 2013,  I spoke with her about the things she told my son.  We didn't get into details (like names) but from the things she told me I know she was speaking of your brother.  I contacted Hollywood Police soon after her arrest but haven't heard back from them.  I've often wondered about your family and have prayed that somehow you'll have justice. 

rrlevy272
rrlevy272 topcommenter

@adelia24 My heart really goes out to you and your family. It's so difficult to continually playback years of time with someone and question if you did something that ultimately lead to their unfortunate end. Your diligent effort to resolve this heinous crime is uncommon and indeed noteworthy.

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

@vidaljudy


yes i know - i frequented the area when CONCA D'ORO was popular with MOON behind the bar as i was addicted to the calamari with two glasses of wine came to $15 with tax and tip - and would travel home to DAVIE on those "back" roads


the proper sequence is to offer FREE PARKING to accomodate visitors who will in turn support the business operators who in turn will have a financial interest in progressive YEAR ROUND attractions (and NOT just be tourist traps constantly screwing patrons (who can get away with it on out-of-town snow-birds but local-yokels will avoid) and then close and re-open next season with a new scam)


for examle, today, HOT GLASS,  CUENCA CIGARs,  MAURNOs pizza, the TIPSY BOAR, PUBLIXs,  SUBWAYs, are all legitimate seedlings that can sustain YEAR ROUND operations the homeless can co-exist with

vidaljudy
vidaljudy

frankdd4....you seem to have issues, very personal issues.  Like mommy/daddy issues.  Did you eat to much government cheese growing up? First of all the world isn't ignorant.  YOU ARE.  Again if you had passed comprehension in school you would have understood what was written. It is possible that there are people out there who work several jobs to support their families, and working several jobs pay taxes at each job.  It is possible to be a single parent and be able to support the family you have.  According to your ignorant talk, you could assume that single parents all receive government assistance.  Not true...unless you have proof that Halle Berry or Sandra Bullock  (both single parents) are receiving government assistance.  The are many single mother's who would rather struggle several jobs than have to depend on or tolerate a man. 

vidaljudy
vidaljudy

In a strange way I feel sorry for people like mistico241 who rarely accept responsibility for their actions.  It's always someone else's fault.  It's always the corrupt cops.  It's never the fault of the actions of the individual at question.  Yes, Hollywood PD has had it's share of scandals but it's not the entire department.  Alex is now a innocent child?  How convienent...a child...then perhaps his parents should have been parenting this child and he should have been home fed, bathed and in tucked in bed by a parent by 9pm.

It never ceases to amaze me how ignorant people seem to be able to post their comments.  Ignorance is stupidity..so they fact that they can even turn on a computer, read or write is utterly dumbfounding.  frankd4 apparently failed reading comprehension and literature in school.  To come to those conclusions out of that story is unexplainable.  It's not even run on sentence!!!  There's no punctuations in the whole jumble mess.  SMH....to think of the wasted government funds on his education!

vidaljudy
vidaljudy

The City of Hollywood and all those elected officals have no interest in that.  They just want a tourist trap or someplace that'll bring in yuppies to spend money which will then somehow find it's way into the pockets of those elected officials.  They have gone as far as tearing down historic Hollywood and using eminet domain to push people out of the area.  The only people they can't seem to push out are the homeless.  That is an issue however that needs to be taken up with the City and elected officials and not so much with the homeless.  The homeless issue needs to be addressed.  If these people weren't homeless, then they'd be considered local-yokels enjoying the area.  It's a shame that the homeless issue has been ongoing for several decades now, they only difference on that issue is the faces and ages of the homeless. 

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

.................in the final analysis i'm am responding to a story that i call BS on

these kids made choices and these kids are a DRAG on society and these kids can claim all the excuses they want BUT the kids are responsible for their actions whether or not the admit it = period

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

.............IF a young woman has a child she cannot properly provide for that is a receipt for disaster = period

vidaljudy
vidaljudy

Your resentment gives the impression that you have been turn down for government assistance at sometime in your life.  You don't even know what your point is!  You complain that Michael has been on assistance along with every member in his family for generations yet you complain that he made money illegally.  You complain about Obamacare (wasn't even in place at the time this happened) but Obamacare is a requirement for all taxpayers, opting out isn't an option. So your political rambling makes no real sense to anyone who isn't ignorant.  What is your issue with cellphones?  It is my understanding that assistance doesn't pay all your expenses, if that were true I'm sure many people would be living on Brickell Ave or those swanky condo's along the beach instead of the run down apartments they could afford.  Many homeless aren't even entitled to cash assistance because they can't give a provide the verifiable permanent address that is required.  They may get food stamps but again that's a program that anyone can apply for and with the economy like it is can qualify.  Many homeless don't even apply because they don't have the neccessary documents to present to a caseworker. 

mistico241
mistico241

It never ceases to amaze you.. ha what a joke.. you really have no idea. I cant speak for stacy whole story and how she was brought up but I can say alex was abandoned by his birth mother when he was 3 and sadly left in the care of his father who was an addict and in in out of jail so alexs step mother took him away from the father and was raised by her and his step grand mother raised in a good home on the ocean and was not a street kid. Alex was not a drug addict and yes smoked weed as he got older and chose to live with his father when he was not injail. But alex is a soft spoken kid who was trying just to be him and never was in trouble befor the first incident with the so called car chase. After all that aired on the news the entire family was harrassed by the hollywood police so until you are in his shoes or know the truth dont speak. I am sorry she lost her brother and I hope the right person is help responsible but alex is innocent in this case.

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

....................yeah typical to shoot the messenger

no J O B but everyone has tattoos and cellphones and plenty of free time AND OH YEAH can 'afford" drugs of all kinds whenever and time with girlfriends and boyfriends to afford dates and entertainment and amusements - nice life huh ?

what about paying the rent and insurance and funding retirement and re-paying your parents and getting your kids fed real food and getting MARRIED and if you have so much free time VOLUNTEERING to give back what you COST the community ?

of course we the people can't comprehend the drama and COST

of course we the people are IGNORANT to pay for these benefits but we have to PAY OUR TAXES so we the people have no say when government assistance gets WASTED on WASTED drug abusers who have all manner of excuses and lie and cheat and steal

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

...............huh ? do you know any of the players ? why should the homeless be "pushed out" ?..........all we really NEED is for the drug abusers and slackers to be gone = period

i have frequented the area for many many years as the golf course is a historic DONALD ROSS design and i was involved in preserving it

FULVIOs was moved from DAVIE to harrison years ago partially on financial support provided by my "friends" (and i recently was involved getting BILLY JOEL and his troupe to visit us)

i myself would have taken an apartment in the area except for the PARKING situation being what it is

i continue to deal with ATTORNEYs and professionals who have offices in the area

JUST this last MONDAY i frequented ALL of the above mentioned in a previous post (brenna at hot glass / anna cuenca at cuenca cigars / maurnos pizza / tipsy boar)

i know the are and i know the people and the operators of businesses there and we ALL have observed the real "stories" over the years now

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

..................as for the CELLPHONEs if someone is smart enough to get one for free then how come that person isn't smart enough to get a J O B ?

vidaljudy
vidaljudy

 What is your issue with cellphones?  Do you not have one?  MetroPCS has a plan for $25 a month. I believe you can even get a $20 plan.  Regardless of the cost, there isn't a government assistance program out there to pay cellphone bills.  Look as much as I love this country,I served this country and as proud as I am to be American, the reality is our government sucks and fails it's citizens big time.  It's about time to drop all the political parties and do what's best for all Americans not just the rich ones with tokens spent on the other 99%.  You going on about the millions and millions...that are spent on supposedly the individuals in this story.  Your sense of inflation is majorly inflated.  Why not complain about the rich who don't pay their fair share of taxes, that get all the special tax breaks so that their tax burden is handed down to the hard working middle class.

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

.............................why should we care about those DRAGGING THE WHOLE COMMUNITY DOWN ?

the whole drama and WASTE of resources - who has TIME and MONEY for all this crap ?

if you DO DRUGS then you CCCould have TIME TO - 1)GET AN EDUCATION 2) GET A J O B 3) be PRODUCTIVE in a positive way = period

IF A GORILLA raised you you could STILL be productive and that the RIGHT TRUE and PROPER road as well as the road on DRUGs = period

vidaljudy
vidaljudy

When was the status of weed changed from illegal drug?  I don't know Alex and I don't know Michael, but I have met Stacy.  She's a walking advertisement for trouble on two legs!!  Look a lot of people are dealt bad lives but that doesn't excuse them for the things they do.  Let's all cry a river for the 3 of them, Stacy's father died and she became a stripping, drug using, tatooing, cheating people user.  Michael's lost 2 parent's at a younger age then Stacy and according to you was a violent drug user.  Alex was abandoned by his mother and on ocassions by his drug using father, although he was fortunate enough to have a step mother and step grand mother who actually cared about him he chose to live with the druggie/inmate instead of the people who struggled for him.  That was his choice, the friends he had was his choice and he bares responsibility for it.  He was grown enough to make such life altering decisions but somehow regressed into childhood when shit hit the fan.  That's a bigger joke.  All I'm saying is every action has a reaction.  Everyone needs to stop the "poor baby" act and admit the realities in their lives (and I'm not just speaking about the murder). 

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

..................well one day we won't be so IGNORANT to pay for all of this and simply cut or eliminate benefits like section 8 housing and food stamps and welfare and subsidized transportation and cellphones AND THEN we will see if people still hang around idle and abuse drugs and space out of their obligations and responsibilities to themselves and kill the free ride

vidaljudy
vidaljudy

I've had close family members in trouble with the law, but on some level their actions brought them to that point.  Let's say yes the police used excessive force in the car chase incident, I'll admit I've seen many a police officer over react.  Wouldn't it have avoided a lot if the child had just immediately pulled over?  Alex may be innocent of the murder charge but don't try to pass him off as a innocent, overly sheltered child.  To bad that while Alex "was trying to be him" ..him was not a straight A, college bound young man with a bright future ahead of himself. That would have been the way to thank and honor those 2 women who loved and cared for him more than his own mother. 

mistico241
mistico241

I will agree with the crime that alex did do as far as the not stopping for the police he needs to take responsibility for. I dont disagree with taking punisment for your action. I will admit I dont entierly belive in our legal system but I dont think someone who did not commit a murder should be sitting in jail with his life on the line. And alex did graduate high school and has his high school diploma. And his plans when he gets out of jail is to leave florida and attend college. I have just read so many stories about this whole terrible situation and they are so far from the truth. I just want people see the truth and not judge by what the papers are saying they only tell bits and pieces and mostly false.

 
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