Border Patrol Agent Charged in Serial Killings

(CN) – A U.S. Border Patrol supervisor confessed Saturday to killing four prostitutes in South Texas this month, authorities said, after a woman escaped from his vehicle and told a state trooper he had pointed a gun at her.

This image provided by the Webb County Sheriff’s Office shows Juan David Ortiz, a U.S. Border Patrol supervisor who was jailed on a $2.5 million bond in Texas, accused in the killing of at least four women. Ortiz was nabbed early Saturday after a string of violence against female sex workers in Laredo, Texas, where he is a supervisor with the Border Patrol. (Webb County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

Police reportedly found Juan David Ortiz, 35, hiding in the bed of a pickup in the parking garage of a Laredo hotel early Saturday morning and arrested him.

Ortiz, a 10-year Border Patrol agent and Navy veteran, is being held in Webb County Jail on four charges of first-degree murder. He has also been charged with aggravated assault and unlawful restraint. His bond is set at $2.5 million.

Webb County-Zapata County District Attorney Isidro Alaniz said at a news conference that all four of Ortiz’s victims were sex workers, one a transgender woman, who he dumped in a rural area in northwest Webb County after shooting them in the head.

“He was profiling certain kinds of victims. The suspect was hunting for his victims,” Alaniz said.

Ortiz picked up Erika Peña on Friday night and they pulled into a gas station, according to Ortiz’s criminal complaint.

He told police he became agitated when Peña started talking about Melissa Ramirez, a 29-year-old mother of two whose body was found on Sept. 4, the complaint states.

Ortiz said he pointed a gun at Peña and grabbed her shirt. Screaming, she pulled off the shirt and jumped out of his pickup. She fled to another gas station where she ran into a Texas state trooper and asked for help, the Laredo Morning Times reported.

Ortiz reportedly confessed that after Peña ran away from him, he picked up another woman, drove her outside the Laredo city limits, told her to get out of his pickup, repeatedly shot her in the head and left her body.

He told police he then drove back to Laredo and picked up a transgender woman, whom he also took outside the city of 257,000 residents on the Mexico border.

He allegedly stopped along Interstate 35 and told the woman to get out of the truck. He shot her once in the back of the head and left her body behind some gravel piles, the Laredo Morning Times reported, citing Ortiz’s criminal complaint.

Those two victims were identified as Jane Doe and John Doe in the complaint.

Police said Ramirez was Ortiz’s first known victim. His second, they said, was Claudine Anne Luera, 42, a mother of five who was found shot on the side of a highway at 7 a.m. Thursday. She died at a hospital Thursday, according to the Laredo Morning Times.

Webb County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Eduardo Chapa did not immediately respond Monday morning to a request for Ortiz’s criminal complaint. He told CNN that detectives are not dismissing the possibility Ortiz has killed more people than the victims he identified.

After Peña gave state troopers Ortiz’s description, they found him at a gas station in Laredo. He ran to a motel where they found him hiding in a pickup truck’s bed and he surrendered, CNN reported.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman Andrew Meehan said it is cooperating with the police investigation of Ortiz.

“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 statement to the Laredo Morning Times.

Ortiz is the fourth Border Patrol agent arrested this year in Laredo, one of whom a grand jury indicted on two counts of capital murder in June. Ronald Anthony Burgos-Aviles, 29, is charged with killing his 27-year-old girlfriend and their 1-year-old child.

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