Sheriff: U.S. Border Patrol agent suspected in 4 deaths
All four slain women found in past two weeks near Laredo.
LAREDO — A U.S. Border Patrol agent suspected of killing four women was arrested early Saturday after a fifth woman managed to escape from him and notify authorities, law enforcement officials said, describing the agent as a “serial killer.”
Juan David Ortiz, 35, a Border Patrol intelligence supervisor, fled from state troopers and was found hiding in a truck in a Laredo hotel parking lot about 2 a.m. Saturday, Webb County Sheriff Martin Cuellar said at a news conference in the border city about 145 miles southwest of San Antonio.
Cuellar said investigators have “very strong evidence” that the suspect is responsible for the deaths of the four women, who are believed to have worked as prostitutes.
“We do consider this to be a serial killer,” Webb County District Attorney Isidro Alaniz said.
Authorities didn’t immediately disclose the victims’ names or nationalities.
The Laredo Morning News reported that all four women were found in the past two weeks in a rural area of Webb County.
The Texas Rangers began investigating along with the sheriff ’s office after a 29-year-old woman’s body was found Sept. 4, the newspaper said.
Then a fatally wounded 42-yearold woman was discovered nearby Thursday morning, a third woman’s body was found Friday, and a fourth slain woman was found Saturday, according to the newspaper.
“The manner in which they
were killed is similar in all the cases from the evidence,” Alaniz said, although he and Cuellar declined to discuss the evidence or say how the women were killed.
Alaniz said investigators are still trying to determine a motive for the killings. He said all the women worked as prostitutes.
Cuellar said investigators believe Ortiz acted alone.
Alaniz said his office plans to charge Ortiz with four counts of murder and one count of aggravated kidnapping.
Andrew Meehan, U.S. Customs and Border Protection assistant commissioner for public affairs, said his agency’s Office of Professional Responsibility, the Border Patrol and the Homeland Security Department’s Office of the Inspector General are fully cooperating with all investigators.
“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,” Meehan said in a written statement.
He referred questions about the investigation to authorities in Webb County and to the Texas Department of Public Safety.
A DPS sergeant didn’t return several messages seeking comment Saturday.
Authorities planned to provide an update on the investigation Monday.