US Border Patrol agent arrested in 4 deaths described as serial killer

Law enforcement officers gather near the scene where the body of a woman was found near Interstate 35 north of Laredo, Texas on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018. A U.S. Border Patrol agent suspected of killing four women was arrested early Saturday after a fifth woman who had been abducted managed to escape from him and notify authorities, law enforcement officials said, describing the agent as a “serial killer.” (Danny Zaragoza/The Laredo Morning Times via AP)

A US Border Patrol agent arrested in connection with the slayings of four people and the kidnapping of a woman who escaped was described by authorities as a serial killer who hunted for his victims.

Juan David Ortiz, 35, confessed to killing four people between September 3 and September 15, according to a criminal complaint filed in Webb County, Texas. Ortiz was charged with four murder charges and one unlawful restraint with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon,according to Webb County District Attorney Isidro R. “Chilo” Alaniz.

The bodies of three women and one man were found over the past two weeks, sheriff’s spokesman Eduardo Chapa told CNN. Chapa said investigators are not ruling out the possibility of more victims.

Ortiz is accused of killing Melissa Ramirez, Claudine Ann Luera, an unknown woman referred to as “Jane Doe” and an unknown man referred to as “John Doe,” according to an affidavit. The women were all shot multiple times in the head and the man was shot once in the back of the head, the affidavit states.

All of the women were prostitutes, the district attorney told CNN affiliate KGNS-TV. Alaniz also said the male victim was believed to be a prostitute.

“He was profiling certain kinds of victims,” Alaniz said, adding “the suspect was hunting for his victims.” The prosecutor says he feels comfortable describing Ortiz as a serial killer.

It was not immediately known whether Ortiz has an attorney.

Andrew Meehan, a US Customs and Border Protection spokesperson, said in a statement to CNN that the agency is fully cooperating with investigators.

“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,” his statement read. “Out of respect for the victims’ family and friends, we ask that deference and due process be given to the investigation so that all the facts are brought to light and they can receive the closure they deserve.”

Woman able to escape, call police

Alaniz said the case broke Friday when a woman was reportedly kidnapped and escaped. The victim called the police and Texas state troopers got to her first.

The victim was able to provide a detailed description of Ortiz, including his tattoos, Alaniz said.

Authorities found Ortiz at a gas station in Laredo, about 160 miles southwest of San Antonio. He fled the scene on foot and ran to the Ramada Inn hotel, where he was found hiding in the bed of a pickup truck, Alaniz said.

“We have very strong evidence that he is the person who has been killing,” Webb County Sheriff Martin Cuellar said at a news conference posted on KGNS’s Facebook page.

Ortiz, Cuellar said, spent 10 years as an agent with the US Border Patrol. He also is a US Navy veteran, Alaniz said.

Cuellar passed his condolences to the families of the four victims. He said his department, along with other state and federal agencies, had been “working diligently on this case.”