Connect with us

News

Trans woman killed by US border agent in Texas

Texas Sheriff changed misgendering of victim

Published

on

Murder suspect Juan David Ortiz – Booking photo courtesy of the Webb County Texas Sheriff’s Office.

A 10- year veteran United States Border Patrol supervisory agent was arrested Saturday, Sept. 15, in the deaths of four women—one of whom is transgender—and the aggravated assault of a fifth victim who narrowly escaped harm and alerted a police officer.

A spokesperson for Webb County Texas District Attorney Isidro R. “Chilo” Alaniz, told the Los Angeles Blade Monday that Juan David Ortiz, 35, confessed to killing four people between September 3 and September 15.

In the criminal affidavit filed by investigators from the Webb County Sheriff’s Office, the break in the case came Friday after a woman narrowly escaped Ortiz.

That woman, identified as Erika Pena, was sitting in a truck with a man named “David” and the two started talking about one of the prostitutes who had gone missing a week earlier. The man then pulled out a pistol and pointed it at her. When she tried to flee, he grabbed her shirt to prevent her from leaving the vehicle.  Pena pulled off her shirt and ran to a nearby gas station where she encountered a Texas state trooper. She was able to provide a detailed description of Ortiz, according to affidavit.

Webb County Sheriff’s spokesperson Eduardo Chapa told the LA Blade, as well as other media outlets, that the bodies of four victims were found over the past two weeks. He added that homicide investigators were not ruling out the possibility of more victims.

An affidavit originally described the victims as three women and one man—but Chapa noted that the victim identified as male was, in fact, a transgender woman.

In a news conference posted to NBC Laredo affiliate KGNS’s Facebook page, Webb County Sheriff Martin Cuellar told reporters: “We have very strong evidence that he is the person who has been killing.”

According to the criminal complaint filed by Cuellar’s office, authorities found Ortiz at a gas station in Laredo, about 160 miles southwest of San Antonio. He fled the scene on foot and ran to a Ramada Inn where he was found hiding in the bed of a pickup truck, Alaniz said.

Ortiz was read his Miranda Rights and then he verbally confessed to killing four people over the last two weeks, the affidavit states. Two of the four killings took place in the hours after the woman was able to escape but before police tracked him down.

DA Alaniz, told the Associated Press Saturday that investigators “consider this to be a serial killer” whose victims were believed to be prostitutes. Alaniz described how the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) supervisor continued going to work as usual throughout that time. “As law enforcement was looking for the killer,” he said, “[Ortiz ] would be reporting to work every day like normal.”

The killing spree became known to authorities with the discovery Sept. 4 of the body of 29-year-old Melissa Ramirez. According to the police affidavit, Ortiz said he killed Ramirez a day earlier. Like the other victims, Ramirez was shot in the head and left in a road in rural northwest Webb County. She was a mother of two.

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

Authorities told the LA Blade Monday that Ortiz told investigators that after the victim escaped from his truck and ran off, he picked up his last two victims, whose identities have not yet been released and one of whom, Sheriff’s spokesperson Chapa confirmed, was the transgender woman.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Border Patrol told the LA Blade that the agency was cooperating with Sheriff’s investigators and the District Attorney’s Office.

“While it is CBP policy to not comment on the details of an ongoing investigation, criminal action by our employees is not, and will not be tolerated. Out of respect to the victims’ family (sic), we ask that deference and due process be given to the investigation so that all the facts are brought to light and they can receive the closure they deserve,” the spokesperson said.   

Reporting by The Associated Press, CNN, The Chicago Tribune, the staff of the Los Angeles Blade and wire service reports.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Kentucky

Another Trans person confirmed murdered this year- USAF vet & Mother

Her friends will always remember her infectious personality & her unmistakable laugh. She loved others passionately and fiercely

Published

on

Cris Blehar, (Family Photo)

MEADE COUNTY, Ky. – Another Trans person has been confirmed murdered this year bringing the deadly total to 49 deaths of transgender and gender non-conforming people in 2021 according to a tally kept by the Human Rights Campaign.

Cris Blehar, a 65-year-old white transgender woman, mother, and U.S. Air Force veteran, was discovered stabbed and shot to death by Meade County sheriff’s deputies who had responded to her rural home on Woodland Road in the Flaherty area. Deputies had been dispatched to perform a welfare check from an unidentified person concerned about Blehar.

The Elizabethtown, Kentucky, News-Enterprise newspaper reported that the Kentucky State Police had made an arrest in the case only a few hours after Blehar’s body was found of Vine Grove resident Tyler J. Petty, 18.

Tyler J. Petty, 18
(Mugshot: Meade County Sheriff’s Department)

“There was no relationship between the victim and the suspect. We believe he worked for her,” said Kentucky State Police Trooper Nicholas Hale in an email to the News-Enterprise. Petty was arrested and brought to KSP Post 4 and was interviewed about the case. Police say he admitted to killing Blehar. A trial date has been set for June 2022.

The murder in this rural area about an hour Southwest of Louisville on May 19, 2021, was brought to the attention of the Human Rights Campaign this week when Blehar’s cousin Mark Stephens contacted HRC to ensure that she was “remembered, honored, and counted” as a member of the transgender community. 

In a statement to HRC, Mark Stephens said;

“If there is one thing to know about Cris, it was that she fought fiercely to define her life as SHE wanted. Whether it was her military service, her 20+ year career in the airline industry, or her post retirement decision to buy a farm & start a family of her own. She lived life to the fullest and wanted everyone around her to live their best life as well. Growing up ‘different’ in Kentucky is certainly no easy task, something we shared in addition to being cousins, and she tackled it with the passion and zeal that only she could have. Her friends will always remember her infectious personality & her unmistakable laugh. She loved others passionately and fiercely, none more than her own son, Maverick.”

Blehar’s son Maverick Thompson paid tribute to her, writing:

“Cris was an amazing mother and a wonderful person. She had so much love and brought a smile to many. She had a hilarious sense of humor that will live on through those that knew her. She will be sorely missed!”

According to her obituary, Blehar was a former law enforcement officer in the U.S. Air Force and retired from United/Continental Airlines. She also worked as an Uber driver and loved animals and bowling.

HRC has officially recorded 49 deaths of transgender and gender non-conforming people in 2021, more than in any year since we began tracking this violence in 2013.

Continue Reading

Maine

Victory Fund honors Maine House speaker in D.C.

Ryan Fecteau is gay Catholic University alum

Published

on

Maine House Speaker Ryan Fecteau accepts the Tammy Baldwin Breakthrough Award at the Victory Fund International LGBTQ Leaders Conference in D.C. on Dec. 4, 2021. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

WASHINGTON — The Victory Fund on Saturday honored Maine House Speaker Ryan Fecteau on the last day of its International LGBTQ Leaders Conference in D.C.

Fecteau — an openly gay Catholic University of America alum — won a seat in the Maine House of Representatives in 2014. He became the chamber’s speaker in 2018.

“Hate and intolerance will not derail us,” said Fecteau after Florida state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith presented him with the Tammy Baldwin Breakthrough Award, which is named after U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.). “Our community will not be intimidated.”

The Victory Fund on Friday honored Guatemalan Congressman Aldo Dávila, a gay man who is living with HIV.

Continue Reading

West Hollywood

Unprovoked attack in WeHo may be latest in a string of violent crimes

McGrath spent two weeks in the hospital and underwent multiple surgeries due to injuries that doctors told him were caused by a blunt object

Published

on

File photo of LASD deputies making an arrest -unrelated- (Photo Credit: County of Los Angeles)

WEST HOLLYWOOD – After an evening out with friends in West Hollywood at the Abbey on November15, Matthew McGrath found himself in hospital the next day with a fractured jaw and his wallet and mobile phone missing.

According to McGrath, who has lived in WeHo for five years, he was walking home along San Vicente Boulevard when he heard “some slurs, some profanity.” “I’m not exactly clear on what, [happened next] but sort of a few minutes later, I just felt a really blunt force to my head, blacked out and was knocked unconscious,” he told KTLA.

McGrath spent two weeks in the hospital and underwent multiple surgeries due to injuries that doctors told him were caused by a blunt object KTLA also noted.

Matthew McGrath via GoFundMe page

He said that he has filed a report with the West Hollywood Sheriff’s substation about the assault and theft but as of Friday had not received a response.

KTLA also reported that the night after McGrath was assaulted, a person was beaten and stabbed on Santa Monica Boulevard. David Cook, 44, was arrested for that stabbing last month. There were also two similar attacks involving a different man using a baseball bat and a boxcutter on Nov. 18 resulted in another arrest last month the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station said in a statement posted to the webpage for the LASD.

“I’ve always felt safe in this neighborhood,” McGrath told KTLA. He observed that although his attack was unprovoked given the other cases and arrests the timing seems suspicious. “We get a crime here or there in West Hollywood, but I have never heard of it happening multiple days in a row,” he said. “Similar assaults, similar attacks, it just doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.”

GoFundMe page has been created to help McGrath.

********************

WeHo attack leaves victim shaken, could be part of larger crime trend

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Follow Us @LosAngelesBlade

Sign Up for Blade eBlasts

Popular