Border Patrol agent accused of killing 4 held on $2.5m bond

US Customs and Border Patrol agent Juan David Ortiz after his arrest on murder charges.
US Customs and Border Patrol agent Juan David Ortiz after his arrest on murder charges. (WEBB COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE/EPA/Shutterstock)

HOUSTON — A US Border Patrol supervisor was jailed Sunday on $2.5 million bond in Texas, accused in the killing of at least four women and of injuring a fifth who managed to escape.

Juan David Ortiz, 35, was being held in Laredo on four counts of murder along with charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and unlawful restraint, Webb County jail records showed.

He was found hiding in a truck in a hotel parking lot in Laredo at about 2 a.m. Saturday, capping what investigators portrayed as a 10-day string of violence. Webb County District Attorney Isidro Alaniz said investigators ‘‘consider this to be a serial killer.’’


Alaniz described how the Customs and Border Patrol intel supervisor continued going to work as usual.

‘‘As law enforcement was looking for the killer . . . he would be reporting to work every day like normal,’’ he said.

It began with the discovery Sept. 4 of the body of Melissa Ramirez, 29. According to a police affidavit, Ortiz said he killed her a day earlier. Like the other victims, she was shot in the head and left in a road in Webb County.

A second victim, Claudine Anne Luera, 42, was found Thursday morning, badly injured but alive, according to the affidavit. The mother of five died later that day.

On Friday, according to the affidavit, Ortiz picked up Erika Pena. She told police she struggled with Ortiz but was able to flee. She made it to a gas station where she found a state trooper.

According to the affidavit, Ortiz told investigators that after Pena ran off, he picked up his last two victims, whose identities had not been released on Sunday.

Jail records don’t list an attorney for Ortiz, who worked for Border Patrol for 10 years.

Alaniz said the dead are believed to have been prostitutes and that one was a transgender woman. At least two were US citizens; the nationalities of the others were not known, he said. He said investigators are still working to determine a motive.


Ortiz was believed to have acted alone.

The federal agency issued a statement offering its ‘‘sincerest condolences’’ to the victims’ families.

The Texas Department of Public Safety, whose Texas Rangers are investigating, did not return several messages seeking comment.