A U.S. Border Patrol agent suspected of killing four women was arrested early Saturday after a fifth woman escaped from him and notified authorities, law enforcement officials said, describing the agent as a "serial killer.''
Juan David Ortiz, an intel supervisor for the Border Patrol, fled from state troopers and was found hiding in a truck in a hotel parking lot in Laredo about 2 a.m. Saturday, Webb County Sheriff Martin Cuellar said at a news conference in the border city about 145 miles (235 kilometers) southwest of San Antonio.
Cuellar said investigators had "very strong evidence'' that he was responsible for the deaths of the four women, who were thought to have worked as prostitutes.
"We do consider this to be a serial killer,'' said Webb County District Attorney Isidro Alaniz.
In a statement, Andrew Meehan, assistant commissioner for public affairs for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said his agency's Office of Professional Responsibility, the U.S. Border Patrol and the Department of Homeland Security's Office of the Inspector General were fully cooperating with all investigators.
"Our sincerest condolences go out to the victims' family and friends. 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,'' Meehan said.
He referred questions about the investigation to authorities in Webb County and to the Texas Department of Public Safety, whose Texas Rangers were also investigating.
A Texas Department of Public Safety sergeant didn't return several messages seeking comment on Saturday.
Authorities didn't immediately disclose the victims' names or nationalities.
"The manner in which they were killed is similar in all the cases from the evidence,'' said Alaniz. But both Alaniz and Cuellar declined to discuss the evidence or say how the women were killed.
Alaniz said investigators were still trying to determine a motive for the killings.
Cuellar said investigators thought the suspect acted alone.
Alaniz said his office planned to charge Ortiz with four counts of murder and one count of aggravated kidnapping.
Authorities planned to provide another update on the investigation Monday.