Border Patrol agent accused of killing 4 women, kidnapping 5th to stand trial in Texas

U.S. Border Patrol agent Juan David Ortiz allegedly shot four women in the head and left their bodies on rural Texas roadsides, authorities say. (Webb County Sheriff's Office)

A Border Patrol agent accused of killing four women and kidnapping a fifth in separate incidents is set to stand trial in Texas next week, a judge announced Thursday.

Juan David Ortiz, 35, has been held on a $2.56 million bond after allegedly killing four women over the course of 11 days in September 2018.  He served as an intelligence supervisor for the Border Patrol and worked as a federal agent for 10 years.

Ortiz will stand trial next Thursday in the 406th District Court of Texas after a judge pushed back the date by three days from its original Monday start date, KGNS-TV of Laredo reported. He’s pleaded not guilty to four counts of capital murder.

Investigators have accused Ortiz of being a serial killer, according to Webb County District Attorney Isidro Alaniz, who noted at the time of the arrest that all four of the dead women had worked as prostitutes and all four were shot in the head and left in a road in the rural south Texas county.

The violence allegedly took place over 11 days, beginning with the Sept. 4 discovery of the remains of 29-year-old woman Melissa Ramirez. According to a police affidavit, Ortiz said he killed Ramirez, a mother of two, the previous day.

A second woman, 42-year-old Claudine Anne Luera, was found shot and left in the road last Sept. 13, badly injured but still alive, according to the affidavit. The mother of five died at a hospital later that day.

A third woman, Erika Pena, claimed she struggled with Ortiz inside his truck, where he pointed a gun at her, but managed to escape to a gas station where she found a state trooper to help her. Ortiz allegedly told investigators he picked up and killed two more women after Pena escaped.

Deputies tracked Ortiz to a parking lot in Laredo where he was hiding in his pick-up truck around 2 a.m. He was arrested and allegedly failed to cooperate with investigators in revealing the identities of his final two victims. The final two victims were later identified as Guiselda Alicia Hernandez, 35, and Janelle Nikki Enriquez, 28, USA Today reported. Authorities recovered the bodies of all four victims. At least two were U.S. citizens.

At the time of the arrest, Border Patrol issued a statement offering its "sincerest condolences" to the women's families and saying criminal activity by its employees is not tolerated.