Border Patrol Agent and Serial Killer Sentenced to Life in Prison for Murdering 4 Women in 12 Days

Juan David Ortiz
Juan David OrtizWebb County Sheriff's Office

Prosecutors said Border Patrol Agent Juan David Ortiz was a serial killer. He has been sentenced to life in prison for killing four women in a Texas border town.

Juan David Ortiz, a Border Patrol agent who murdered four women in 12 days, has been sentenced to life in prison after being convicted in a Texas court.

Ortiz, 39, was accused by authorities of being a serial killer who preyed on women "because he wanted to clean up the streets" of Laredo, a border town where all four victims lived. 

“Mr. Ortiz was a serial killer then and is a serial killer now,” prosecutor Isidro Alaniz said in closing arguments last week. “Cold, callous, calculating, just like that. It is terrifying to have the enemy within the ranks of law enforcement.”

Ortiz was convicted on all charges against him: four counts of first-degree capital murder, aggravated assault and unlawful restraint. Jurors deliberated for five hours, after a two-week trial, before finding him guilty last week.

He was automatically sentenced to life in prison. Alaniz said he did not pursue the death penalty because the victims' relatives unanimously asked him not to, saying execution would be an easy out for the man who killed their loved ones with point-blank shots to the head and neck.

Ortiz's victims were sex workers, many of whom struggled for years with drug addiction, their families said, and whose workplace was San Bernardo Avenue, a tightly packed thoroughfare of cheap motels, auto body shops, taco stands and convenience stores.

In a nine-hour interview with investigators, Ortiz confessed to the killings. “I was continuing driving on San Bernardo, and then this is when the monster came out,” Ortiz said in his videotaped confession, which was played in court.

His defense lawyer had unsuccessfully argued the confession was coerced and that his client was a broken man who suffered insomnia and PTSD.

His victims were: Guiselda Alicia Hernandez, 35; Claudine Anne Luera, 42; Melissa Ramirez, 29; and Nikki Enriquez, 28, a transgender woman. They were killed in 2018.

During the trial, which began Nov. 28, relatives of the victims sat in court, at times becoming overcome with emotion as details emerged of their family members' deaths and autopsy findings were read aloud.

One juror fainted as explicit autopsy photos were shown.

The courtroom also heard the testimony of Erika Pena, who told jurors Ortiz picked her up on Sept. 14, 2018 and took her to his house, while his wife and kids were out of town. He was acting strangely and while later riding in his truck, he pulled a gun and held it to her head, she testified.

“He pointed it right at my face,” Pena said. When she opened the passenger door to jump, he grabbed her shirt, but she was able to break free and run, wearing only her bra from the waist up, she said.

“Someway, somehow, I took off running without my shirt,” she testified. “I took off running, I snapped.”

Family members were given the opportunity to confront their relatives' killer after his conviction.

Maria Cristina Benavides, the mother of Ramirez, spoke in Spanish. "Melissa was a noble, sensitive person. You had no right to take her life,” she told Ortiz. "She was my life and now my life is destroyed."

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