Border Patrol agent accused of killing 4 women
Researchers in Texas say the Border Patrol supervisor Juan David Ortiz killed four women who worked as prostitutes in a ‘cold and heartless way’; William La Jeunesse reports from Los Angeles.
A U.S. Border Patrol supervisor confessed to killing four women earlier this month planned to die as a “suicide by cop”,” researchers said Monday.
According to the court documents, 35-year-old, Juan David Ortiz, gave a voluntary oral confession” to the murders shortly after he was arrested early Saturday outside a Laredo hotel. He remained in jail on $2.5 million bond Monday. He is accused of four counts of murder, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and unlawful restraint.
Ortiz was caught hours after he grabbed a woman by the name of Erika Pena, researchers said. Pena told the police that they struggled with Ortiz in the truck, where he pointed a gun at her, but that she was able to escape. She made it to a gas station where they found a state trooper who she asked for help.
Webb County Sheriff Deputy Chief Federico Garza told reporters on Monday that Ortiz was not immediately identified as the suspect in the woman of the kidnapping and the death. A statement dated Saturday showed that he was identified after Pena led investigators to his home, where Ortiz had taken her hours before.
The affidavit said Ortiz was spotted at a gas station at about 1 pm Saturday. He was in the car park of the hotel where he was arrested.
Garza added that Ortiz “was going to try to commit suicide by cop” by waving his mobile phone to look like a weapon, but was eventually arrested without incident.
Webb County District Attorney Isidro Alaniz described Ortiz as a “rogue individual” whose actions “do not match with the work done by the men and women of the Border Patrol.”
In the weekend, Alaniz said Ortiz had reported to work as usual during the killings, which investigators alleged took place between September. 3 hours before he was arrested.
“If justice was looking for the murderer … he would report to work every day as normal,” the prosecutor said.
Three of the four women killed have been identified. All four were shot in the head and left in a road in the countryside of northwest Webb County.
The first woman, the 29-year-old mother of two Melissa Ramirez, was found Sept. 4. The second, the 42-year-old Claudine Anne Luera, was found shot and left in the road Thursday morning, badly injured, but still alive, according to the affidavit. The mother of five children, died in a hospital later in the day.
On Monday, authorities identified the fourth woman killed on the 28-year-old Umberto Ortiz, a transgender woman who allegedly went by Janelle. The third female is not identified.
At least two of the four were citizens of the united states; the nationality of the other were not known, Alaniz said. The authorities are still washing for clues about what the motivation of the murders.
“The question is, `Why did he do this?”‘ Alaniz said. He later added: “We are trying to be in the mind of this killer.”
Before being hired by the Border Patrol, Ortiz served in the U.S. Navy for almost eight years, until 2009, with a variety of medical items as well as a three-year detachment with the Marines. A Navy spokeswoman declined to answer questions about the nature of the defendant’s discharge, or whether he would be disciplined.
The Border Patrol said that there’s nothing in Ortiz’s background suggests he was capable of such crimes. A representative of the agency said that he had a small incident in his background, but gave no details.
Oritz is the second Border Patrol agent in Laredo to be arrested on a murder charge this year after Ronald Anthony Burgos-Aviles was accused of killing a woman with whom he had a relationship with her 1-year-old child. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty in that case.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.