Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz reconciled with his crack-smoking biological mom over a Zoom call from prison – only to lose her to cancer, DailyMail.com can exclusively reveal.
Ex-felon Brenda Woodard did not know that the son she gave up for adoption 23 years ago was the gunman until his lawyers tracked her down in the wake of the February 2018 school massacre.
Friends have revealed to DailyMail.com that Cruz’s legal team passed on the message that he was desperate to meet Woodard, who agreed to a conversation over video chat in the months before her death.
Nikolas Cruz, 23, (pictured in court last week) managed to reconcile with his biological mom, Brenda Woodard, via video chat, months before she died of cancer
Cruz was put up for adoption by Woodard (pictured left in 2019) who spent most of her life in and out of jail, chalking up dozens of arrests for offenses including battery, burglary, resisting arrest, theft, trespassing and panhandling
However any further attempts to bond were cut short when 65-year-old Woodard died earlier this year after battling cancer for more than a year.
‘Nikolas reached out to her and said he wanted to talk and the lawyers came here and set it up so she could speak with him at the prison,’ revealed her neighbor and close friend Doug Clark, 61.
‘That was what he wanted and so she agreed. She said they had a good conversation but I gave her privacy. It was something she felt she needed to do.’
Cruz pleaded guilty Wednesday to murdering 13 students and three teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School as well as an additional 17 counts of attempted murder.
In a rambling statement he told a Broward County, Florida courtroom that he regretted the rampage, carried out when he was aged 19, before appearing to blame his killing spree on drug usage.
‘I hate drugs and I believe this country would do better if everyone would stop smoking marijuana and doing all these drugs and causing racism and violence out in the streets,’ Cruz said.
His guilty plea opens the penalty phase of proceedings with jurors set to decide in January whether the warped outcast should face the death penalty or life without parole.
The gunman (pictured as a baby) and his brother Zachary were adopted by Lynda Cruz (pictured) who died in 2017 – three months before his murderous rampage
Cruz and his brother Zachary are seen placing their mother’s urn in a tomb before the mausoleum was sealed
Defense lawyers are expected to recount his history of mental illness and his traumatic childhood, tracing his problems all the way back to Cruz being abandoned as a baby by Woodard.
The mom-of-three was in and out of jail throughout her chaotic, drug-plagued life, chalking up dozens of arrests for offenses including battery, burglary, resisting arrest, theft, trespassing and panhandling.
In fact she was said to be so familiar with the workings of the court system that one acquaintance dubbed her ‘The Judge’.
Her explosive temper once saw her charged with attacking a friend with a tire iron.
In June 1998, Woodard was six months pregnant with Nikolas when cops in Fort Lauderdale busted her for possession of crack cocaine.
The highly-addictive drug is known to heighten the risk of miscarriage and can cause developmental problems in babies.
Woodard refused to take any responsibility for her gunman son’s murderous path in life when DailyMail.com found her residing in government-funded accommodation in Dania Beach, Florida back in January 2019
Her friend and former neighbor Doug Clark told DailyMail.com, however, that privately, Woodard was shocked by the massacre and he felt it played a part in her declining health. She died several months ago after battling cancer for more than a year
Woodard spent six days in jail but was released on three years’ probation subject to urine testing and Nikolas, her second child, was born September 24, 1998.
Her decision to give the baby boy up for adoption meant that Cruz appeared to have escaped his law-breaker mom’s malign legacy.
The same was true for his brother Zachary, who was born around one year later and was taken in by the same couple, insurance executive Roger Cruz and his wife Lynda.
A daughter, Danielle, remained but was taken into foster care at age 12.
Now aged 34, Danielle has chalked up 16 felony convictions of her own. She is currently behind bars in Miami awaiting trial over a violent carjacking.
Woodard refused to take any responsibility for her gunman son’s murderous path in life when DailyMail.com found her residing in government-funded accommodation in Dania Beach, Florida back in January 2019.
‘You’ve already cooked me. You’ve fried me in a frying pan. I’m the one-woman wrecking team,’ she hissed at our reporter, before asking us to leave.
But Clark said that, privately, his former friend was shocked and upset by the massacre and he felt it played a part in her declining health.
Cruz entered guilty pleas to 17 counts of murder and 17 counts of attempted murder in the Valentine’s Day massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in a Florida court last Wednesday
In a rambling statement Cruz told a Broward County, Florida courtroom that he regretted the rampage, carried out when he was aged 19, before appearing to blame his killing spree on drug usage
‘Brenda knew she had made mistakes in life, mainly petty stuff, but she didn’t try to hide that,’ Clark told DailyMail.com.
‘His [Cruz] birth was not planned. She told me he was the product of a rape. She figured he would have a better life if she adopted him out.’
Clark said she Woodard met her estranged son via video chat in her final months.
She is believed to have died three months ago.
Cruz and his brother Zachary did indeed enjoy a stable, well-to-do suburban upbringing, punctuated by the loss of their adoptive father Roger to a heart condition in 2004.
Then in November 2017, three months before Cruz embarked on the worst school shooting in history, homemaker Lynda died from pneumonia.
Cruz had regularly clashed with his adoptive mother over his love of firearms and his violent temper tantrums.
There was ample evidence of his behavioral problems but the warnings went unchecked until he headed to his former high school on February 14, 2018 armed with an AR15-style automatic rifle.
Surveillance video captured Cruz, now 23, stalking the hallways of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on February 14, 2018, aged 19
Cruz fled the scene but was later arrested without incident in nearby Coral Springs later that afternoon. He reportedly identified himself to police as the gunman responsible
‘We watched the shooting on the news. Brenda had no idea at the time it was her son. She didn’t know him, she didn’t know anything about him,’ added Clark.
‘When the lawyers came here to talk to her she was shocked, she was upset. If she didn’t care she would not have agreed to talk to him on the video.’
For the most part Woodard stayed out of trouble in her final years having undergone programs to beat her drink and drug habits.
She held down jobs at Pottery Barn, Williams Sonoma and The Fresh Market, according to court filings.
‘I liked Brenda and I will miss her a lot. But she’s better off where she is now,’ added Clark. ‘The woman was in a lot of pain.’