US Border Patrol agent suspected of being 'serial killer' after allegedly killing four women in two weeks

Texas state troopers arrested a US Border Patrol supervisor today who they say went on a two-week serial killing spree that left four female sex workers dead and ended only when a fifth woman escaped from him at a gas station and found help.

Juan David Ortiz, 35, 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 at around 2am today, Webb County Sheriff Martin Cuellar said at a news conference in the border city about 235 kilometres southwest of San Antonio.

Sheriff Cuellar said investigators have "very strong evidence" that he is responsible for the deaths of the four women working as prostitutes.

One of the victims was a transgender woman, said Webb County District Attorney Isidro Alaniz.

"We do consider this to be a serial killer," Mr Alaniz said.

Mr Alaniz told The Texas Tribune that after the suspect picked up the fifth woman she quickly realised that she was in danger.

"When she tried to escape from him at a gas station that's when she ran into a [state] trooper," Mr Alaniz said.

Ortiz will be charged with four counts of murder and one count of aggravated kidnapping, Mr Alaniz said.

He said that authorities believe Ortiz had killed all four women since September 3. The names of the victims were not immediately released.

Mr Alaniz said two of them were US citizens but the nationalities of the other two were not yet known.

"The manner in which they were killed is similar in all the cases from the evidence," said Mr Alaniz.

But both Mr Alaniz and Sheriff Cuellar declined to discuss the evidence or say how the women were killed.

Mr Alaniz said investigators are still trying to determine a motive for the killings. Sheriff Cuellar said investigators believe Ortiz acted alone.

"It's interesting that he would be observing and watching as law enforcement was looking for the killer, that he would be reporting to work every day like normal," Mr Alaniz said.

Ortiz was a 10-year veteran of the Border Patrol. US Customs and Border Protection issued a statement saying that it was fully cooperating with the investigation.

"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," the agency said.

The Texas Department of Public Safety, whose Texas Rangers are investigating, did not return several messages seeking comment.

San Diego, California, USA - July 4, 2016: International Border fence between USA -San Diego, and Mexico - Tijuana,  with border patrol car driving along the road.
International Border fence between USA -San Diego, and Mexico (file picture). Source: istock.com



Hurricane Florence death toll rises to 11 as North Carolina braces for widespread flooding

The Marines, the Coast Guard, civilian crews and volunteers used helicopters, boats and heavy-duty vehicles today to rescue hundreds of people trapped by Florence's shoreline onslaught, even as North Carolina braced for what could be the next stage of the disaster: widespread, catastrophic flooding inland.

The death toll from the hurricane-turned-tropical storm climbed to 11.

A day after blowing ashore with 145 km/h winds, Florence practically parked itself over land all day long and poured on the rain. With rivers rising toward record levels, thousands of people were ordered to evacuate for fear the next few days could bring the most destructive round of flooding in North Carolina history.

The storm dropped 10 to 18 inches of rain along the North Carolina coast. Source: Associated Press

More than 60 centimetres of rain had fallen in places, and the drenching went on and on, with forecasters saying there could be an additional 45 centimetres by the end of the weekend.

"I cannot overstate it: Floodwaters are rising, and if you aren't watching for them, you are risking your life," Governor Roy Cooper said.

As of today, Florence was centered about 95 kilometres west of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, inching west at 4 km/h — not even as fast as a person walking. Its winds were down to 75 km/h. With half of the storm still out over the Atlantic, Florence continued to collect warm ocean water and dump it on land.

In its initial onslaught along the coast, Florence buckled buildings, deluged entire communities and knocked out power to more than 900,000 homes and businesses. But the storm was shaping up as a two-part disaster, with the second, delayed stage triggered by rainwater working its way into rivers and streams.

The flash flooding could devastate communities and endanger dams, roads and bridges.

Waves from Hurricane Florence pound the Bogue Inlet Pier in Emerald Isle N.C., Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Tom Copeland)
Source: Associated Press

Authorities ordered the immediate evacuation of up to 7,500 people living within 1.6 kilometres of a stretch of the Cape Fear River and the Little River, about 160 kilometres from the coast. The evacuation zone included part of the city of Fayetteville, population 200,000.

Officials in nearby Harnett County urged residents of about 1,100 homes to clear out because the Lower Little River was rising toward record levels.

One potential road out was blocked as flooding forced the shutdown of a 26-kilometre stretch of Interstate 95, the main highway along the Eastern Seaboard.

In New Bern, along the coast, homes were completely surrounded by water, and rescuers used inflatable boats to reach people.

Kevin Knox and his family were rescued from their flooded brick home with the help of Army Sergeant Johan Mackie, part of a team using a phone app to locate people in distress. Mackie rode in a boat through a flooded neighbourhood, navigating through trees and past a fencepost to get to the Knox house.

"Amazing. They did awesome," said Knox, who was stranded with seven others, including a boy who was carried out in a life vest. "If not, we'd be stuck upstairs for the next ... how long? I have no idea."

New Bern spokeswoman Colleen Roberts said 455 people in all were rescued in the town of 30,000 residents without any serious injuries or deaths. But thousands of buildings were damaged in destruction Roberts called "heart-wrenching."

Authorities evacuate a family from rising waters caused by Florence, now a tropical storm, on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018 in New Bern, N.C.  (AP Photo/Allen G. Breed)
Source: Associated Press

Across the Trent River from New Bern, Jerry and Jan Andrews returned home after evacuating to find carp flopping in their backyard near the porch stairs.

Coast Guard helicopters were taking off across the street to rescue stranded people from rooftops and swamped cars. Coast Guard members said choppers had made about 50 rescues in and around New Bern and Jacksonville as of noon.

Rescue team member Sgt. Nick Muhar, from the North Carolina National Guard 1/120th battalion, evacuates a young child as the rising floodwaters from Hurricane Florence threatens his home in New Bern, N.C., on Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Chris Seward)
Source: Associated Press

Marines rescued about 20 civilians from floodwaters near Camp Lejeune, using Humvees and amphibious assault vehicles, the base reported.

In Lumberton, about 130 kilometres inland, Jackie and Quinton Washington watched water filling both their front and back yards near the Lumber River. Hurricane Matthew sent more than 1.5 metres of water into their home in 2016, and the couple feared Florence would run them out again.

"If it goes up to my front step, I have to get out," Quintin Washington said.

The dead included a mother and baby killed when a tree fell on a house in Wilmington, North Carolina. South Carolina recorded its first death from the storm, with officials saying a 61-year-old woman was killed when her car hit a tree that had fallen across a highway.

"It was very dark, all you could see was water and wind, you couldn't really figure out what was going on out there," a neighbour said. Source: Associated Press

Three died in one inland county, Duplin, because of water on roads and flash floods, the sheriff's office said. A husband and wife died in a house fire linked to the storm, officials said, and an 81-year-old man died after falling and hitting his head while packing to evacuate.

Retired Marine Garland King and his wife, Katherine, evacuated their home in New Bern yesterday and returned today, sharing a kiss and joining hands as they drew near their house.

"It was tough. Wobbling. I was looking for water moccasins to hit me at any time," he said.

They finally made it, and found a soggy, stinking mess.

"The carpets. The floors. Everything is soaking wet," Katherine King said. "We're going to have to redo the whole inside."

The National Hurricane Center said Florence broke a North Carolina rainfall record that had stood for almost 20 years: Preliminary reports showed Swansboro got more than 75 centimetres and counting, obliterating the mark set in 1999, when Hurricane Floyd dropped just over 60 centimetres on the state.

As of noon, Emerald Isle had more than 58 centimetres of rain, and Wilmington and Goldsboro had about 30 centimetres. North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, had around 18 centimetres.

Stream gauges across the region showed water levels rising steadily, with forecasts calling for rivers to crest tomorrow and Tuesday at or near record levels. The Little River, the Cape Fear, the Lumber, the Neuse, the Waccamaw and the Pee Dee were all projected to rise over their banks, flooding cities and towns.

Forecasters said the storm will eventually break up over the southern Appalachians and make a sharp rightward swing to the northeast, its rainy remnants moving into the mid-Atlantic states and New England by the middle of the week.

It's feared the US state could be in for its most destructive flooding in its history. Source: Associated Press

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Antarctica's ice melt to be measured by new NASA satellite

A NASA satellite designed to precisely measure changes in Earth's ice sheets, glaciers, sea ice and vegetation was launched into polar orbit from California overnight.

A Delta 2 rocket carrying the ICESat-2 lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base and headed over the Pacific Ocean.

NASA Earth Science Division director Michael Freilich says that the mission in particular will advance knowledge of how the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica contribute to sea level rise.

The melt from those ice sheets alone has raised global sea level by more than 1 millimetre (0.04 inch) a year recently, according to NASA.

Antarctica (file picture).
Antarctica (file picture). Source: istock.com

The mission is a successor to the original Ice, Cloud and Land Elevation Satellite that operated from 2003 to 2009.

Measurements continued since then with airborne instruments in NASA's Operation IceBridge.

Built by Northrop Grumman, ICESat-2 carries a single instrument, a laser altimeter that measures height by determining how long it takes photons to travel from the spacecraft to Earth and back.

According to NASA, it will collect more than 250 times as many measurements as the first ICESat.

The launch was the last for a Delta 2 rocket, United Launch Alliance said.

The Delta 2 rocket lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Source: Associated Press

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Two dead after suspected drug overdoses at Sydney dance festival

Two people have died and another two are critically ill in hospital after multiple suspected overdoses at Sydney music festival Defqon.1.

A man, 23, and a woman, 21, collapsed at the festival in Castlereagh about 9pm (Sydney time) on Saturday and died a short time later in nearby Nepean hospital, police said on Sunday.

A Jamisontown woman, 26, remains in a critical condition at Nepean hospital while an Artarmon man, 19, was flown to Westmead Hospital and is in intensive care.

Police said another 13 people went to hospital for drug-related issues while about 700 people sought assistance from medical staff at the festival.

Defqon.1 organisers had warned ticket holders the festival's drug policy was zero tolerance.

"This means that all types of soft- and hard drugs are prohibited. If drugs are found, you will be handed over to the police," a statement on the festival's website said.

Police say 10 people were charged with drug supply offences, including two 17-year-old girls who allegedly carried 120 capsules "internally" into the venue.

In total, 69 people were found in possession of drugs at the festival held at Sydney International Regatta Centre.

Local detectives have formed a new police strikeforce, dubbed Highworth, to investigate the two deaths.

Silhouettes of people in a bright in the pop rock concert in front of the stage. Hands with gesture Horns. That rocks. Party in a club
Music festival (file picture). Source: istock.com


'Like right out of that movie Jaws' - man killed by shark off Cape Cod on US east coast

A man was bitten by a shark today in the water off a Cape Cod beach and died later at a hospital, becoming the state's first shark attack fatality in more than 80 years.

The 26-year-old man from Revere succumbed to his injuries following the attack off Newcomb Hollow Beach in Wellfleet at around noon, Wellfleet Police Lieutenant Michael Hurley said.

Joe Booth, a local fisherman and surfer, said he was on shore when he saw the man and his friend boogie boarding when the attack happened.

He said he saw the man aggressively kick something behind him and a flicker of a tail from the water. He realised what was happening when the friend came ashore dragging his injured friend.

"I was that guy on the beach screaming, 'Shark, shark!" Booth said. "It was like right out of that movie Jaws. This has turned into Amity Island real quick out here."

Booth said others on the beach attempted to make a tourniquet while others frantically called 911.

Hayley Williamson, a Cape Cod resident and former lifeguard who was on the beach at the time, was in disbelief after the man was rushed into an ambulance.

"We've been surfing all morning right here and they were just further down," she said of the two boogie boarders. "Right spot, wrong time, I guess."

Life-saving measures were attempted on the beach before the man was taken to Cape Cod Hospital in Hyannis, where he was pronounced dead, State Police spokesman David Procopio said. The beach has been closed to swimming.

The family of the victim was notified of the death but his name was not released, Procopio said.

It was the first fatal shark attack in Massachusetts since 1936, and the second shark attack this season.

A 61-year-old New York man was severely injured August 15 after fighting off a shark off Truro, not far from today's attack. He's currently recovering in a Boston hospital.

"Today is just keeping everyone out of water," Hurley said. "There'll be a determination later about what the town wants to do with the beaches going forward."

Beachgoers said the Wellfleet beach is popular with surfers, and with sunny skies and warm temperatures today it was busy, even though the summer season was over and lifeguards were no longer on watch.

There have been frequent shark sightings this summer along the outer Cape, often leading to beach closings. The National Park Service, which manages many of the picturesque beaches where white sharks tend to congregate, said it closed beaches for at least an hour about 25 times this year - more than double the annual average.

A Cape Cod politician said officials who did not take more aggressive action against sharks bore some responsibility for the fatal attack.

Barnstable County Commissioner Ron Beaty said he had warned something like this could happen and urged measures to reduce the number of white sharks.

"It is my personal belief that the responsibility for this horrible shark attack rests squarely upon the shoulders of the aforementioned officials for their utter lack of attention and inaction regarding the growing shark problem on Cape Cod of the last few years," he said.

The state's last shark attack fatality was on July 25, 1936, when 16-year-old Joseph Troy Jr. was bitten in waters off Mattapoisett.

Troy, of Boston's Dorchester neighborhood, was visiting an uncle and was swimming about 50 feet offshore when the shark attacked.

Two people look out at the shore after a reported shark attack at Newcomb Hollow Beach in Wellfleet, Massachusetts. Source: Associated Press