HOUSTON – As a border town copes with the aftermath of a serial killer, law enforcement officials were thrown into the national limelight at a news conference this weekend.
“Laredo is not the sleepy town that we all grew up in,” said Webb County District Attorney Isidro Alaniz.
Juan David Ortiz, 35, a U.S. Border Patrol supervisor who is a 10-year veteran of the agency, is now facing four counts of murder charges, following a killing spree that began earlier this month. Officials are now calling Ortiz a serial killer.
“It meets the qualifications or definitions of a serial killer,” Alaniz said.
Investigators said Ortiz’s victims were sex workers who worked at a notorious strip of Laredo’s San Bernardo Avenue. One of the victims was a 28-year-old transgender woman.
Her mother, Elva, said the woman was born Umberto Ortiz, in Laredo, but was later known as Janelle.
“I posted his picture on Facebook a couple of days ago,(writing) 'If anybody has seen him, call me anything, message me; and I didn't get any response,” Elva said.
A criminal complaint states that Janelle was the final victim in Ortiz’s murderous spree and suffered a gunshot wound to the head near a local gravel pit.
“Who would think that the victim was going to be my son? I’m sorry. Now I have to go to Laredo and bury him,” said an emotional Elva.
Ortiz was captured after a potential victim escaped from his vehicle, investigators said. She was able to flag down a state trooper at a nearby gas station, investigators said.
Authorities ultimately caught up with him four hours later at a local hotel's parking lot. However, it was during this window of time that law enforcement believed Ortiz murdered his final two victims.
Elva admits she never put two and two together regarding the final victim being her child.
“I didn't think it was my son when I saw the news and it was a male and I said -- I didn't pay attention to it,” she said.
Elva told Channel 2 Investigates she is set to arrive in Laredo on Tuesday. As she prepares to bury her child, she admits she has one desire for the man now labeled as a serial killer.
“I want justice done. That is what I want: for that man to get justice, to get what he needs, deserves,” Elva said.