US bor­der agent ac­cused of se­rial killings

The Australian - - WORLD -

Texas au­thor­i­ties yes­ter­day charged a US Bor­der Pa­trol su­per­vi­sor with mur­der fol­low­ing what they al­leged was a two-week se­rial killing spree that left four pros­ti­tutes dead and ended when a fifth woman es­caped at a petrol sta­tion and found help.

Juan David Or­tiz, 35, an in­tel­li­gence su­per­vi­sor for the Bor­der Pa­trol, was charged with four counts of mur­der as well as ag­gra­vated as­sault and un­law­ful re­straint, Webb County district at­tor­ney Isidro Alaniz said yes­ter­day.

Mr Or­tiz was ar­rested af­ter the fifth woman man­aged to flee. State troop­ers found the Bor­der Pa­trol of­fi­cer hid­ing in a truck in a ho­tel carpark in Laredo at about 2am on Satur­day (5pm AEST).

Af­ter Mr Or­tiz’s ar­rest the body of the fourth vic­tim was found near the in­ter­state high­way north of Laredo, a bor­der city about 235km south­west of San An­to­nio.

All four vic­tims were found in a ru­ral, un­pop­u­lated area of Webb County.

“We do con­sider this to be a se­rial killer,” Mr Alaniz said.

Mr Alaniz said that af­ter the sus­pect picked up the fifth woman she quickly re­alised that she was in dan­ger.

“When she tried to es­cape from him at a gas sta­tion that’s when she ran into a (state) trooper,” he said.

Mr Alaniz said the Texas Rangers be­lieve Mr Or­tiz had killed all four women since Septem­ber 3. The names of the vic­tims were not im­me­di­ately re­leased. Mr Alaniz said two of them were US cit­i­zens but the na­tion­al­i­ties of the other two were not yet known. All of them were work­ing as pros­ti­tutes and one was a trans­gen­der woman, he said.

“The man­ner in which they were killed is sim­i­lar in all the cases from the ev­i­dence,” Mr Alaniz said.

He de­clined to dis­cuss the ev­i­dence or say how the women were killed. Mr Alaniz said in­ves­ti­ga­tors were still try­ing to de­ter­mine a mo­tive for the killings.

Au­thor­i­ties said they be­lieved Mr Or­tiz acted alone.

“It’s in­ter­est­ing that he would be ob­serv­ing and watch­ing as law en­force­ment was look­ing for the killer, that he would be re­port­ing to work ev­ery day like nor­mal,” Mr Alaniz said.

Mr Or­tiz was a 10-year vet­eran of the Bor­der Pa­trol. US Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion is­sued a state­ment say­ing that it was fully co-op­er­at­ing with the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

“Our sin­cer­est con­do­lences go out to the vic­tims’ fam­ily and friends. While it is CBP pol­icy to not com­ment on the de­tails of an on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion, crim­i­nal ac­tion by our em­ploy­ees is not, and will not, be tol­er­ated,” the agency said.

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s core im­mi­gra­tion plan is to build a wall along the Mex­i­can bor­der. Dur­ing the cam­paign he ac­cused Mex­ico of send­ing il­le­gal im­mi­grants across the bor­der to rape and mur­der Amer­i­cans.

Lo­cal Demo­crat con­gress­man Harry Cuel­lar said yes­ter­day this was the sec­ond case this year that a Bor­der Pa­trol agent in Laredo has been ac­cused of homi­cide. In April, su­per­vi­sory agent Ron­ald An­thony Bur­gos-Aviles, 29, was ac­cused of killing his al­leged 27year-old lover and the cou­ple’s one-year-old child. He has since been in­dicted on two counts of cap­i­tal mur­der. Pros­e­cu­tors are seek­ing the death penalty.

AP

Po­lice at the site where the fourth vic­tim was found

Or­tiz

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