Lead investigator tells jurors that ex-Border Patrol agent admits to killing 4 women

Juan David Ortiz charged in shooting deaths of 4 prostitutes in Laredo in 2018

SAN ANTONIO – One of the lead investigators looking into the deaths of four prostitutes in Laredo testified late Thursday afternoon that the suspect in the killings admitted to the slayings.

“I’m the one who did it,” Capt. Federico Calderon of the Webb County Sheriff’s Office said on the witness stand what the defendant, ex-Border Patrol agent Juan David Ortiz, told him and Texas Ranger EJ Salinas during interrogation of the suspect.

Calderon also testified about what Ortiz told the investigators his motive for the slayings.

“How these people were trash and how he was going to clean up the streets and that he was gonna keep doing it until he got caught,” Calderon said.

Calderon also told jurors that while law enforcement was closing in on Ortiz at the hotel parking garage where he was captured, they learned of the final victim.

“He volunteered that information about a fourth body that nobody knew about. If he hadn’t told us, we may have never found her,” Calderon said.

Before that testimony, the jury in the capital murder trial viewed more video of the nearly 10-hour interrogation video.

Jurors saw how Ortiz still denied that he knew who the victims were and about two purses found in his pickup truck that belonged to a potential fifth murder victim.

“I didn’t do any of that s**t, you guys are saying,” Ortiz said. “I didn’t do it and I don’t recall. I’m sure that I would have remembered something like that.”

When asked why rounds were missing from Ortiz’s service weapon that is believed to have been used in the killings, the defendant said, “I shoot up at the sky. Boom! Boom! Boom!”

When Calderon showed Ortiz pictures of one of the victims, the defendant told him, “I have no idea who she is, I’ve never seen her in my f*****g life” and then crumpled the picture into a ball.

At one point, Ortiz told the investigators, “Why don’t you take me to jail right now.”

A second portion of the video showed Ortiz beginning to change his attitude toward the investigators.

“He begins to cooperate,” Calderon told jurors prior to the viewing. “Instead of saying not to pretend to know Erika or that it’s a blur, he starts talking about how he knows Erika, and the whole account comes out.”

Erika is Erika Peña, who testified on Monday that the defendant pulled a gun on her inside his pickup truck before she escaped from him and ran in a bra to a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper pleading for help. The incident is what helped crack the case.

Ortiz is heard on the tape admitting that Peña was in his home and that she got hysterical and ran out of his truck for help.

The trial was moved from Webb County to Bexar County on a change of venue request.

The trial is scheduled to resume at 8:30 a.m. on Friday. KSAT 12 will be streaming the entire proceedings, from gavel to gavel, on KSAT.com, KSAT Plus and YouTube.

If convicted of capital murder, Ortiz faces life in prison without parole because prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty.

Learn more about this case by watching KSAT’s exclusive “Open Court: The Trial of Juan David Ortiz on KSAT.com, KSAT Plus or on KSAT’s YouTube channel.

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About the Authors:

David Ibañez has been managing editor of KSAT.com since the website's launch in October 2000.

Erica Hernandez is an Emmy award-winning journalist with15 years of experience in the broadcast news business. Erica has covered a wide array of stories all over Central and South Texas. She's currently the court reporter and cohost of the podcast Texas Crime Stories.