A US Border Patrol agent was arrested early Saturday on the suspicion that he killed four women and abducted a fifth, who escaped.
The agent, Juan David Ortiz, was captured after a woman whom he tried to abduct escaped, Webb County District Attorney Isidro Alaniz said at a news conference. Sheriff Martin Cuellar said Ortiz fled from state troopers and was found hiding in the parking lot of a hotel in Laredo, a border city about 145 miles southwest of San Antonio.
“We do consider this to be a serial killer,” Alaniz said.
Ortiz has confessed to the four murders and one abduction, according to Eduardo Chapa, a spokesman for the Webb County Sheriff’s Office. Customs and Border Protection officials have confirmed Ortiz is a supervisory Border Patrol agent.
Alaniz said investigators are still trying to determine a motive for the killings. He said all of the women worked as prostitutes.
Cuellar said investigators have “very strong evidence” that Ortiz is responsible for the deaths of the four women. But authorities declined to discuss the evidence or say how the women were killed.
The Texas Rangers began investigating after the body of 29-year-old Melissa Ramirez was found September 4, according to the Laredo Morning Times.
Then, on Thursday, 42-year-old Claudine Anne Luera was found in critical condition just off a roadway, close to where Ramirez’s was found. Authorities found the third and fourth bodies Friday night and Saturday afternoon, respectively.
Alaniz said authorities were planning on filing four murder charges and one charge of aggravated kidnapping against Ortiz.
Andrew Meehan, CBP’s assistant commissioner for public affairs, said in a statement that the agency is fully cooperating with investigators.
“Our sincerest condolences go out to the victims’ family and friends,” Meehan said. “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.”