A former Texas Border Patrol agent, Juan David Ortiz, 39, was convicted Wednesday of capital murder and sentenced to life in prison for the slayings of four female sex workers, the Associated Press reported.
In 2018, Ortiz admitted to killing Melissa Ramirez, 29, Claudine Anne Luera, 42, Guiselda Alicia Cantu, 35, and Janelle Ortiz, 28. In the recorded interview confession with investigators, Ortiz referred to the four women as “trash” and “so dirty” and claimed that he was attempting to “clean up the streets.”
Ortiz was a Border Patrol intel supervisor at the time of the killings, and he previously served in the U.S. Navy for nearly eight years. Ortiz held several medical posts during his military service and was deployed to Iraq.
Ortiz, who expressed disdain for prostitutes, admitted to hiring the women and engaging in sexual acts with them. The victims’ bodies were discovered in September 2018 along roads near Laredo, Texas.
According to Ortiz’s confession, “the monster would come out” when he drove by the area in Laredo that the women frequented.
Ortiz’s defense attorneys attempted to have the recorded confession thrown out by arguing that he had been wrongly pushed into making the admission. They argued that he was medicated and had been drinking the day he confessed to investigators. The defense also claimed that Ortiz was battling post-traumatic stress disorder, insomnia, nightmares, and headaches.
Prosecutors rejected the defense’s claims and insisted that Ortiz was an educated senior law enforcement official who was mentally stable at the time of his confession.
Ortiz was detained by Webb County Sheriff’s Office on September 15, 2018, following a tip from another woman who had fled from Ortiz the evening before.
Erika Pena, 31, told jurors that Ortiz picked her up on the evening of September 14 but that she got a bad feeling about him when he admitted that he was the “next to last person” to have sex with Ramirez. According to Pena, Ortiz stated that he was concerned authorities would find his DNA on Ramirez’s body, which had been discovered a week prior.
“It made me think that he was the one who might have been murdering,” Pena testified.
Pena alleged that she escaped from Ortiz’s truck at a gas station after he pointed a gun at her. The woman ran to a state trooper refueling his vehicle, but Ortiz fled. He was later tracked down in a hotel parking garage.
According to Webb County Medical Examiner Corinne Stern, three victims were fatally shot. One of the victims, Cantu, was shot in the neck, but her cause of death was ruled blunt force trauma to the head.
Ortiz was automatically sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole since prosecutors did not seek the death penalty.