A U.S. Border Patrol agent is in custody in connection with the killings of four women and the kidnapping of a fifth in Texas.
Authorities arrested Juan David Ortiz on Saturday morning after a woman he allegedly kidnapped escaped and went to police, The Associated Press reported. Ortiz was arrested in the parking lot of a hotel where he was attempting to hide, Webb County Sheriff Martin Cuellar said at a press conference.
The bodies of two women were found earlier in the week, and another two were found early Saturday morning. Cuellar said his department has “very strong evidence” to believe Ortiz killed the women, who he said were sex workers.
Sex workers face serious threats of violence from both clients and law enforcement officers. Many of the workers are also low-income women of color. More disturbing, one-third of all sex worker deaths are due to murder by serial killers, according to a 2006 study. Webb County District Attorney Isidro Alaniz classified Ortiz as a serial killer on Saturday.
Ortiz is a 10-year veteran of the border patrol.
He is the second border patrol agent who has been arrested in a homicide case. Former agent Ronald Anthony Burgos-Aviles, 29, is accused of fatally stabbing his girlfriend and their 1-year-old child earlier this year. He has pleaded not guilty in the killings.
Ortiz faces four murder charges and one count of aggravated kidnapping.