Suspect arrested after killing 2 women in Atascosa County, setting fire to crime scene, sheriff says

Laura West, 43, and Mary Heinz, 33, were killed; Rosendo Montoya, 27, arrested and charged with capital murder

ATASCOSA COUNTY, Texas – A 27-year-old man is behind bars after a double homicide involving a pair of roommates, which was followed by an intentional fire, according to the Atascosa County Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff David Soward said on the early morning of June 29, a man who had been partially living in a home in the 100 block of Peach Tree in Leming arrived to find it had been set on fire and smoke was billowing out.

The man attempted to get inside, but there was too much smoke. Firefighters later arrived to extinguish the fire and pulled out the body of 43-year-old Laura West, of Leming, the homeowner.

Soward said West had been shot in the head. Her roommate, 33-year-old Mary Heinz, of Leming, was missing.

Heinz’s vehicle and belongings were still in the home, but she was nowhere to be found, Soward said.

Six days of intense investigation followed to learn more about West’s death and Heinz’s disappearance, according to the ACSO.

Investigators gathered evidence and surveillance video in the case before identifying a suspect on Monday.

The suspect, 27-year-old Rosendo Jesus Montoya, had dated Heinz in the past, Soward said.

On July 4, investigators conducted surveillance on Montoya, who was working at a fast food restaurant in Pleasanton, according to the sheriff.

Montoya was seen moving his vehicle close to a dumpster and got out of his car around 9 p.m. before grabbing two plastic trash bags and throwing them in the dumpsters, according to Soward.

Deputies with the ACSO stopped to interview Montoya after he left work about 45 minutes later. At the same time, the sheriff said an investigator went to the dumpster to retrieve the trash bags and found they had partial human remains.

Montoya was taken to the sheriff’s office in Jourdanton, where Soward said he confessed to shooting and killing both women during interrogation.

Soward said Montoya “was basically obsessed with Mary Heinz.”

The sheriff said Montoya took investigators to where Heinz’s body was located, near a county road about five miles north of Poteet.

Remains were found on the side of the road, next to a fence and some tall grass. Heinz had been dead for a few days, Soward said.

It’s unclear when she was killed, but the ACSO is waiting for positive results to release that information.

The Atascosa County Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating the fire as an arson case. It’s believed the fire began in the living room and was set in an attempt to burn down the crime scene, Soward said.

Montoya is in the Atascosa County Jail and is charged with capital murder with a $1 million bond.


About the Authors

Ivan Herrera has worked as a journalist in San Antonio since 2016. His work for KSAT 12 and KSAT.com includes covering breaking news of the day, as well as producing Q&As and content for the "South Texas Pride" and "KSAT Money" series.

Luis Cienfuegos is a photographer at KSAT 12.

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