Prosecutors in Texas are seeking the death penalty for a former U.S. Border Patrol agent who confessed to murdering four sex workers. Juan David Ortiz, 35, confessed to killing the four women in order to "clean up the streets" of his hometown in Texas's southern border.
Evidence was presented to a grand jury showing Juan David Ortiz killed the women "in a cold, callous and calculating way," according to Webb County District Attorney Isidro Alaniz. "The scheme in this case, from Ortiz's own words, was to clean up the streets of Laredo by targeting this community of individuals who he perceived to be disposable, that no one would miss and that he did not give value to," Alaniz said in a public statement.
Related coverage: Border Patrol Agent Arrested, Serial Killer Who Preyed On Prostitutes
Alaniz announced he would be seeking the death penalty for the September murders which Ortiz carried out because he believed law enforcement didn't do enough to curb prostitution. He claimed he was "doing a service" by killing the sex workers. When someone has a hate toward a particular type of individual, in this case, sex workers, one might guess that Ortiz himself had an addiction to prostitution which in some deranged way may have fueled his killing spree against sex workers.
Texas law allows a suspect to be charged with capital murder if he is suspected of killing more than one individual in the same scheme with the same overall motive, according to Alaniz. Ortiz was arrested September 15 in Laredo and booked in the Webb County Jail on a $2.5 million bond. Ortiz was a Border Patrol intel supervisor and a Navy veteran who lived a seemingly normal life with a wife and two children.
Related coverage: Caravan - US Army Lays Barbed Wire At Rio Grande Border (Video)
"By day, he was a family man. The evidence shows that he was a supervisor, that he would go about his daily activities like anybody here. He appeared normal by all accounts and circumstances," Alaniz said. "At the nighttime, he was somebody else — hunting the streets ... for this community of people and arbitrarily deciding who he was going to kill next."
According to prosecutors, Ortiz knew some of the victims but he would not elaborate on the nature of their relationships, more evidence to suggest he may have even been intimately involved with at least some of his victims. The victims were identified as Melissa Ramirez, 29, who was murdered on September 3, Claudine Luera, 42, who was murdered on September 13.
Ortiz nearly killed a woman named Erika Pena who told investigators Ortiz acted strangely when she brought up Ramirez's killing. She also said Ortiz pointed a gun at her while they were in his truck at a gas station. Then, Ortiz grabbed Pena's shirt as she tried to get out of the truck but she managed to slip free and ran away. She eventually found a state trooper who was also getting gas and told him what had transpired.
Related coverage: Border Patrol: ‘NY Mayor De Blasio Crossed The Border Illegally’
After the close call with Pena, Ortiz went out and killed his final two victims, Guiselda Alicia Cantu, 35, and Janelle Ortiz, 28. Janelle was a transgender woman whose birth name was Humberto Ortiz. Pena helped investigators track Ortiz to a hotel parking garage where he was arrested without incident.
Alaniz added, "I believe that if Erika Pena would not have escaped that day that there would be more victims right now in this case." Additional indictments came Wednesday including aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and unlawful restraint for Ortiz's attack on Pena. He was also charged with evading arrest or detention.
Ortiz was placed on indefinite, unpaid suspension after his arrest by the Border Patrol. The agency has been quiet about the case and has not commented recently regarding Ortiz's case or current employment status.
Tips? Info? Send me a message!
Follow The Entire Goldwater Team via Twitter!