Juan David Ortiz is suspected serial killer, and former Border Patrol agent. He was caught and arrested after a potential victim escaped and alerted police.
Jurors in the capital murder trial of a former US Border Patrol agent have heard a taped interview in which he confesses to the 2018 killings of four sex workers in South Texas.
If convicted of capital murder, Juan David Ortiz, 39, faces life in prison without parole because prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty. The trial started on November 28 and is set to continue on Monday.
Ortiz, a Navy veteran, was a Border Patrol intelligence supervisor at the time of his arrest in September 2018. Ortiz, who officials have said wasn’t on duty during the killings and wore civilian clothes, is accused of killing Melissa Ramirez, 29; Claudine Anne Luera, 42; Guiselda Alicia Cantu, 35; and Janelle Ortiz, 28.
Each woman was shot in the head and left along roads on the outskirts of Laredo in September. One died of blunt force trauma after being shot.
Juan David Ortiz told detectives in the video played in court last week that as he drove along a stretch of road that the women frequented, “the monster would come out,” the San Antonio Express-News reported. He told investigators he wanted to “clean up the streets,” and referred to the women as “trash” and “so dirty.”
Ortiz’s attorney, Joel Perez, argued in opening statements that investigators had jumped to conclusions, and that his client’s confession was “coerced.” He said his client was “broken” and “suicidal” when he made the confession and told investigators he'd had blackouts.
Perez said that Ortiz told the investigators that he was a war veteran who'd been experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder and was unable to sleep and was having nightmares. Perez said Ortiz had been put on “a bunch of psychotic pills."
The ex-agent's arrest was set in motion when a woman, Erika Pena, escaped from him when he pointed a gun at her while they were in his truck at a gas station on September 14, 2018. Pena, now 31, testified that Ortiz would give her money for drugs, drive her to buy them and then they would have sex.
Normally, she said, he was “nice, smart, funny, a normal guy,” but on Sept. 14, 2018, she got a bad feeling after he told her he was the “next to last person” to have sex with Ramirez, who was found slain the week earlier. She testified that he was worried investigators would find his DNA.
“It made me think that he was the one who might have been murdering,” Pena told the jury.
Luera had been fatally shot on September 13, 2018.
After Pena escaped, Ortiz fled from the gas station but was later arrested when authorities tracked him to a hotel parking garage.
In the interview with investigators, Ortiz said that after Ramirez had injected the drugs he's bought for her, she'd passed out and that “angered” him. He said that when she regained consciousness, she became belligerent. Ortiz said that when he stopped so that she could use the restroom, he shot her in the back of the head.
Ortiz told investigators that after picking up Luera and taking her to get “a fix," he told her they should check out where Ramirez's body was found. He said she “started freaking out.” She died at a hospital after being shot in the head.