“Is this guy really a serial killer?” he asked.
During the trial, the jury watched a nearly 10-hour video recording of Mr. Ortiz’s interview with the police. In it, Mr. Ortiz can be heard admitting to three known killings and revealing the whereabouts of a fourth victim whom investigators had previously been unaware of.
“That video is the best evidence,” Mr. Alaniz, the prosecutor, told the jury as the trial came to a close.
During emotional statements before the court, family members confronted Mr. Ortiz. Maria Cristina Benavides, the mother of Ms. Ramirez, told him in Spanish that he deserved to spend the rest of his life in prison. “Melissa was a noble, sensitive person. You had no right to take her life,” Ms. Benavides told him. “She was my life and now my life is destroyed.”
The Border Patrol, an agency with more than 19,000 workers who patrol vast and often remote areas of the U.S. border where drug smuggling, human trafficking and other criminal activity are common, rarely sees agents with such serious convictions.
In 2018, another Border Patrol supervisor in Laredo, Ronald Anthony Burgos Aviles, was charged in the deaths of a woman with whom he was romantically involved and her infant son. The trial for that case is pending.
Ms. Peña, the woman who said she escaped an attack, testified last week that Mr. Ortiz had told her that he was afraid the police might find his DNA during the investigation of the killing of Ms. Ramirez. Ms. Peña, who said that she had known Mr. Ortiz as a client for months, said that he told her that he had picked up Ms. Ramirez days before she was found dead in a remote area next to an interstate highway.
Days later, Ms. Peña said, Mr. Ortiz took her to a gas station and pulled a gun. She testified that she ran out of his truck and screamed for help, and then ran into a law enforcement officer who was pumping gas and directed investigators to Mr. Ortiz’s home.
He was arrested hours later at a motel parking lot.
Mr. Ortiz had been a rising star in the Border Patrol, where he spent his career within a sector that encompasses more than 100,000 square miles, stretching from the border region in South Texas north to the Texas-Oklahoma line. He became an agent after leaving the Navy in 2009, and told investigators that he had served time in Iraq. While an agent, he earned a master’s degree from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio. He went on to climb the ranks, earning a supervisor title within an intelligence division.