Laura Ashley Powell
A Border Patrol Agent has been arrested in South Texas, after confessing to killing four people over the course of a few weeks. The suspect, Juan David Ortiz, was arrested on suspicion of evading arrest after being found hiding in his truck in the parking lot of a motel. The search for Ortiz began when a woman, Erika Pena, said she had been abducted by Ortiz.
“We consider this man to be a serial killer who was preying on one victim after another,” said Sheriff Martin Cuellar of Laredo, Texas. “Fortunately, he’s now been apprehended.”
Chief Deputy Federico Garza of the Webb County Sheriff’s Office said that Ortiz was apparently ready for a showdown. He had been holding Pena at gunpoint, and had stocked up on weapons at his home, which Garza believes was in case he was finally connected to the murders.
“Thank God that didn’t happen,” said Garza.
According to CNN, when a reporter asked Garza whether the four murders Ortiz admitted to were the only ones he committed, he responded that they were not certain, but they would certainly be looking out for any nearby similar patterns of victims.
The District Attorney of Webb County stated that they will likely charge Ortiz on four counts of murder, and one count of aggravated kidnapping in the near future.
All four of the murder victims had been shot. One was Melissa Ramirez, age 29, and another was Claudine Luera, age 42. Luera was found alive, but in critical condition. She was taken to a nearby hospital where she later died from her injuries.
The other two victims have not yet been identified. According to the New York Times, District Attorney Isidro Alaniz said he believes that all four victims were sex workers, working in and near Loredo. Alaniz said that Ortiz was a supervisory agent who had been working for the US Border Patrol for around ten years.
“At this time we believe the suspect was acting alone,” said Alaniz.
State Representative Richard Peña Raymond made a statement on the incident, saying that Ortiz’s crimes do not reflect the entire institution of the United States Border Patrol.
“That could have been a sheriff’s deputy,” said Raymond. “It could have been a P.D. It could have been a state trooper. It wasn’t. It’s a Border Patrol agent, and I don’t think that one thing had anything to do with the other. If this is true, do you really think that there’s something they could have done to have prevented this guy from having the mind-set to kill four people? Usually, these guys have some issues that no amount of training would have addressed.”
Raymond then added, “Whenever you hear about any law enforcement officer doing something wrong—I don’t care what the agency is—then it’s wrong. But you can’t paint with a broad brush and say, ‘Well, they must all be guys that are willing to go kill four people.’”