US border agent accused of serial killings
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.
Police at the site where the fourth victim was found