A U.S. Border Patrol Agent has been arrested on suspicion of killing at four women and abducting another, as of September 15. Juan David Ortiz was arrested on Saturday morning, according to the Associated Press.
Authorities were reportedly led to 35-year-old Ortiz after a woman escaped from him during an attempted kidnapping. CNN reports that the woman was “fighting for her life,” and had a gun pulled on her during the struggle. All of the women connected to Ortiz were sex workers, according to the district attorney for Laredo, Texas.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Ortiz Has Confessed to Four Homicides in What Is Being Described as a ‘Serial Murder’ Case
According to the Webb County Sheriff’s Office, Ortiz has confessed to four homicides as of Saturday afternoon.
Officers pursued Ortiz on Friday after a woman he tried to abduct escaped and notified them of the event; Ortiz then fled the police and was eventually found hiding in a parking lot of a Laredo hotel. He was held overnight and then charged on Saturday. He has been charged with four murder charges as well as a kidnapping charge, according to KGNS.
For now, officials say that they have no reason to believe there are any other bodies that are yet to be discovered. They also say it appears Ortiz acted alone in his killings, and that no one else is a suspect in the investigation.
2. Ortiz Was a 10-Year Supervisor of the U.S. Border Patrol
Ortiz was a 10-year veteran of the U.S. Border Patrol at the time of his arrest. He was a part of the Highway Interdiction team, whose role was to “observe vehicles traveling on IH-35 with the goal of intercepting vehicles engaged in narcotics trafficking, human trafficking, etc.,” according to the documents as seen above.
Prior to his work with Border Patrol, Ortiz served in the Navy from 2001-2009. He received a Bachelor’s Degree from American Military University during that time, and later earned a Master’s Degree from St. Mary’s University.
3. All of the Women Who Were Murdered or Abducted by Ortiz Were Sex Workers, Authorities Say
Officials say that the women involved in this case were sex workers that were “picked up” by Ortiz and it is believed he was off duty at the time.
The bodies of the women, and their subsequent connection to Ortiz, were slowly connected in the wake of a two week murder investigation that took place when authorities found two bodies buried in a rural part of Webb County, TX. Though it’s unclear how they were able to find the bodies of the other two women, KGNS reports that officials found a third body in Webb County early Saturday morning, and the fourth body was discovered at noon, north of Laredo.
There’s currently conflicting information over whether there are three female bodies and one male body, or four female bodies that have been found in relation to the investigation. CNN reports that three female bodies and one male body have been found in the area of Webb County in the last few weeks, but all other publications are reporting that all of the bodies were female.
4. Two of the Bodies of the Slain Women Have Been Identified Thus Far
So far, two of the four bodies have been identified: one was identified to be Melissa Ramirez, a 29-year-old woman from Laredo who was found in Webb County, and whose cause of death has not been publicly disclosed.
The other identified woman was 42-year-old Claudia Anne Luera, whose body was found near the mile marker 436 of Texas Highway 255, according to LMTonline. Luera was reportedly found alive and rushed to a local hospital, where she succumbed to her injuries. The only information on her cause of death by the DPS was “head trauma.”
5. Ortiz Has Been Called a ‘Serial Murderer’ by the Webb County District Attorney
Though the motive of Ortiz’s murders has not yet been determined, Ortiz has been qualified as a “serial murderer” by Isidro Alaniz, Webb County’s district attorney. In a press conference on Saturday, Alaniz said, “We have probable cause to believe that he is responsible for this series of murders, which I would qualify as a serial murderer.”
According to reporter Valerie Gonzalez, this is the second homicide investigation in Webb County that involves a border patrol agent from the Laredo sector.
Early Saturday evening, U.S. Customs & Border Protection released a statement regarding Ortiz’s arrest:
“In the early morning hours of September 15, 2018, the Texas Rangers arrested a Supervisory Border Patrol Agent. There are charges pending related to multiple homicides in the Laredo area. This is an ongoing investigation, involving the Texas Rangers and the Webb County Sheriff’s office. CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility and United States Border Patrol are fully cooperating with all investigators. The Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General has been notified and is working with investigators. At this time, any questions regarding this investigation should be referred to the Texas Rangers. CBP will provide more information when available.
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. Out of respect to the victims’ family and friends, we ask that deference and due process be given to the investigation so that all the facts are brought to light and they can receive the closure they deserve.”
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