BRAZORIA COUNTY, Texas – Five suspects have been charged with murder after a man from The Woodlands was killed in what investigators call an elaborate robbery set-up.
Larry Ortiz Jr., 45, took his family to a beach home located in the 300 block of Ocean Boulevard, part of the Treasure Island community, near Freeport. They were in town to celebrate a quinceañera before he was to embark on a new job opportunity in Louisiana, his family said.
Before dawn on Jan. 28, Brazoria County Sheriff’s deputies were called to the home for a home invasion and deadly shooting.
Investigators said Ortiz’s son and his friend met up with Alena Nicole Pena Murillo, 20, and Anzley Tay Castillo, 20, at 1504 Bar and Grill in Freeport. They were friends through social media and had met in person before, and all agreed to go back to the beach house together.
“We believe they went back to the beach house to engage in sexual relations,” Brazoria County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Travis Pate said.
But investigators believe that was never the real intention.
Minutes after they all got home, Richard Horn, 29, Keerston Wilkerson, 21, and Guadalupe Navarro, 23, stormed inside, some wearing masks, while demanding money and assaulting Ortiz’s son and his friend.
All of the commotion woke Ortiz up, investigators said. After some sort of altercation, one of the suspects fatally shot Larry Ortiz Jr. while at least six adults and several young children, his grandkids, were inside the home.
“He was my only brother and ... I lost him to a senseless tragedy,” Ortiz’s brother Gabriel said. “He was not the target. He got up to protect his family.”
All five suspects then took off with about $600 and a cell phone.
“This kind of stuff just doesn’t happen around there,” Capt. Pate said.
Using surveillance video and license plate readers, and with help from other agencies including the Texas Rangers, deputies were able to track down the suspects in different parts of Texas.
All five were booked into the Brazoria County Jail and charged with murder. They’re each being held on a $2 million bond.
“The most warm-hearted, kindest, sincere, genuine person that I actually know,” Gabriel Ortiz said. “That’s just one step closer to getting justice for Larry.”
According to investigators, the five suspects are connected through gang activity and some of them are in dating relationships. Two of them, investigators said, were involved in a similar scheme in Fort Bend County last year, where they were charged with aggravated robbery and released on bond.