Former Border Patrol agent found guilty of killing four women
A former Border Patrol agent was found guilty of the capital murder of four women after he was recorded telling investigators he wanted to “clean up the streets” of his home town in Texas.
Juan David Ortiz, 39, was convicted after a jury trial and faces an automatic life prison term after prosecutors declined to seek the death penalty for the 2018 murders, according Webb and Zapata County District Attorney Isidro Alaniz.
Ortiz, a former intel supervisor, was arrested in September 2018 after a woman he had abducted at gun-point escaped from his truck and notified authorities.
He confessed to killing Melissa Ramirez, 29, Claudine Anne Luera, 42, Guiselda Alicia Cantu, 35, and Janelle Ortiz, 28. Two of the women were killed in the hours after the abducted victim had escaped, the district attorney said.
In a chilling confession played to the court, Ortiz said he had targeted the women because they were sex workers, and had been trying to “clean up the streets” of Laredo.
The self-described vigilante referred to the women as “trash” and “dirty”, and that when he would drive around areas frequented by the women, "the monster would come out”.
After the verdict, victims’ family members addressed Ortiz in court, according to the Associated Press.
Melissa Ramirez’s sister-n-law Gracie Perez said the hearts of the victim’s children had been “broken”.
“Do you know how much pain you have caused this family? My heart is torn apart knowing that I won’t be able to see her but to visit her in the cemetery,” Ms Perez said.
Ortiz’s defence attorney Joel Perez had claimed at trial that the Navy veteran had suffered from post-dramatic stress disorder after a deployment to Iraq.
Mr Perez said his confession had been coerced and should not have been admitted at trial as he was having a mental breakdown at the time.
Speaking to reporters after the verdict, District Attorney Alaniz said Ortiz was a family man by day, according to CNN.
“He appeared normal by all accounts and circumstances. At the night time, he was someone else, hunting the streets of San Bernardo for this community of people and arbitrarily deciding who he was going to kill next.”
Erika Pena testified that she was picked up by Ortiz on 15 September 2018, and got a bad feeling after he told her he was the “next to last person” to have sex with Ramirez, who had been found dead a week earlier.
The Associated Press reported that she escaped from his truck at a gas station after he pointed a gun at her and flagged down a state trooper.
He was tracked to a hotel parking garage soon afterwards.
Three of the victims — Ramirez, Luera and Ortiz — were shot in the head, and the fourth died of blunt force trauma to the head, the Webb County Medical Examiner testified at trial.