Bor­der Pa­trol agent charged in four killings

Pros­e­cu­tors will seek death penalty against Juan David Or­tiz.

Los Angeles Times - - OP-ED -

LAREDO, Texas — A U.S. Bor­der Pa­trol agent who con­fessed to shoot­ing four women in the head and leav­ing their bod­ies on ru­ral Texas road­sides has been in­dicted on a cap­i­tal mur­der charge, a pros­e­cu­tor said Wed­nes­day.

A grand jury de­cided to up­grade the charge against Juan David Or­tiz, Webb County Dist. Atty. Isidro Alaniz said at a news con­fer­ence. Alaniz said pros­e­cu­tors would seek the death penalty.

Or­tiz, 35, was ini­tially charged with four counts of mur­der, as well as ag­gra­vated as­sault and un­law­ful re­straint. He has been held in Webb County Jail on a $2.5-mil­lion bond since his Sept. 15 ar­rest.

The Bor­der Pa­trol in­tel­li­gence su­per­vi­sor and Navy veteran seemed to be liv­ing a typ­i­cal sub­ur­ban life with his wife and two chil­dren when the killings oc­curred.

Af­ter the first slay­ing, he con­tin­ued go­ing to work as usual. He was even­tu­ally ar­rested af­ter he pulled a gun on a woman who was able to es­cape and get help from a state trooper, in­ves­ti­ga­tors said.

Au­thor­i­ties said the vic­tims were sex work­ers whom Or­tiz knew and tar­geted for their vul­ner­a­bil­ity.

Melissa Ramirez, 29, was slain on Sept. 3 and Clau­dine Luera, 42, was killed on Sept. 13.

On Sept. 14, po­lice said Or­tiz picked up an­other woman, Erika Pena, who told in­ves­ti­ga­tors that Or­tiz acted oddly when she brought up Ramirez’s slay­ing and later pointed a gun at her at a gas sta­tion, ac­cord­ing to court doc­u­ments. Pena said Or­tiz grabbed her shirt as she tried to get out of his truck but she pulled it off and ran, find­ing a state trooper.

Or­tiz fled and, he later told in­ves­ti­ga­tors, picked up and killed his last two vic­tims — 35-year-old Guiselda Ali­cia Cantu and 28-year-old Janelle Or­tiz, a trans­gen­der woman whose birth name was Hum­berto Or­tiz.

With Pena’s help, au­thor­i­ties were able to track Or­tiz to a park­ing garage, where he was ar­rested. Ac­cord­ing to court doc­u­ments, Or­tiz con­fessed to in­ves­ti­ga­tors.

Susan Mon­toya Bryan As­so­ci­ated Press

FAM­ILY and friends of four slain women take part in a can­dle­light vigil in Laredo, Texas, in Septem­ber.

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