Texas Border Patrol supervisor Juan David Ortiz has been charged with four counts of murder, as well as aggravated assault and unlawful restraint, after killing four female sex workers, the Associated Press reports. Ortiz’s killing spree ended when a fifth woman escaped from a Texas gas station to seek help.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, one of the women Ortiz killed was a transgender woman, though they have not released any of the women’s names.
Ortiz is a 10-year Border Patrol veteran. After the fifth woman escaped on Saturday, Ortiz fled. Authorities found him hiding in a truck in a hotel parking lot.
“We do consider this to be a serial killer,” Webb County district attorney Isidro Alaniz said, according to the Texas Tribune. The Tribune reported that the killings happened while Ortiz was off duty and using his own vehicle.
“There’s nothing that suggested that [Ortiz’] did this under the cover of authority or the law,” Alaniz said.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a statement that they do not comment on ongoing investigations but that “criminal activity by our employees is not, and will not be tolerated.”
None of the victims have been named. Ortiz was arrested after one woman he had abducted escaped and alerted authorities.
Though four women were killed, one of the affidavits obtained by the Tribune did make reference to a “John Doe,” suggesting that, even in death, the trans woman who was killed was probably misgendered.
After the deaths of multiple transgender women in Jacksonville, Florida, Orange Is the New Black star Laverne Cox spoke recently on her Twitter account about why deadnaming and misgendering trans people remains a huge problem. Cox shared that she used to carry around a note in her pocket so that if she died, authorities would know she was a transgender woman.
“Being misgendered and deadnamed in my death felt like it would be the ultimate insult to the psychological and emotional injuries I was experiencing daily as a black trans woman,” she wrote.