Trish Duvaney lived next door to the Cruz family from 1999 to 2002. She described the circumstances of Cruz's adoption to reporters, explaining that Lynda Cruz was around 50 years old at the time. She and her husband, Roger, were having a hard time adopting a child since they were relatively old for new parents. However, there was an expensive option that could allow them to fast track their dream for children.
"So she went to a lawyer and did it to where you pay the biological mother's expenses," she said. "You're not directly giving money to the birth mother."
Duvaney went on to explain that Cruz's biological mother was in dire straits, and welcomed the opportunity to have her expenses covered.
"Nik's biological mother was just a complete screw-up, drug addict and thief," she said bluntly.
She said that, all told, the adoption costed the Cruz family $50,000. Roger and Lynda brought Nikolas Cruz home straight from the hospital at just three days old. They planned for him to be their only child, but a year later, his biological mother was pregnant again. They reportedly dropped another $15,000 to keep his younger brother, Zachary, in the family.
"I even said to Lynda: 'You don't know the mother's background.' Both children were born after one-night stands. The birth mother, she didn't even really know who the two biological fathers were," Duvaney confided in reporters.
"She was happy with Nikolas and wasn't going to try for another one, but when she found out he would have a biological brother, she decided right away to take him, and her husband was on board," Duvaney said.
Duvaney claimed that Cruz was a concern to friends and neighbors of the family even as a toddler. She told reporters that "everybody dropped the ball on him." She described a childhood incident where Cruz displayed a capacity for heartlessness, and possibly even murder.
"He threw my 4-month-old into the pool. My son was crawling on the back patio and he threw my son into the pool. And Nikolas was only 2 then," she said.
In 2004, Roger died of a heart condition. Nikolas Cruz was only five years old. As many reports have noted, Lynda Cruz passed away from complications due to pneumonia on Nov. 1, 2017. Less than three months later, Cruz took 17 lives at his former high school with an AR-15 assault rifle.