Ex-felon indicted for stabbing pregnant correctional officer girlfriend to death

(As originally published with bells and whistles, Thu, February 16th 2023, 2:01 PM EST)

AMARILLO, Texas (TND) — A man accused of killing his pregnant girlfriend has been indicted for capital murder.

Police in Amarillo, Texas, said John Paul Ortega killed Iliana Michelle Garza last November.

The 34 year old was found unconscious in a gas station parking lot.

John Paul Ortega, 36, was arrested less than two hours later.

KVII reported he was initially charged with murder but the charges were upgraded when investigators learned Garza was pregnant.

According to court documents, Garza was stabbed to death. She had three children and was pregnant with her fourth. And according to her obituary, Garza served as a correctional officer.

Ortega had spent almost half his life in prison.

John Paul Ortega was photographed in prison on (clockwise from top left) Dec. 20, 2005; Nov. 26, 2006; June 25, 2007; and Nov. 21, 2019. He was arrested for murder on Nov. 30, 2022. (Texas Corrections)

He’d been released five months before the murder, after serving 15 years for sexual assault of a child, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, aggravated assault against a public servant, possession of a controlled substance, and cruelty to animals.

KVII’s Jamie Burch told The National Desk that Ortega was never housed at the Clements Unit in Amarillo, where Garza worked.

The officer who arrested Ortega for murder was named the Amarillo Police Department’s “Officer of the Year” on Thursday.

Officer Enrique Gonzalez and his partner were not dispatched to the scene, but heard the suspect’s vehicle was a white Lincoln Town Car. Gonzalez called for the license plate number and found out the car belonged to Ortega.

He got a possible address, went to the home, and found Garza’s mother there, looking for her daughter, not knowing she’d been murdered.

Then, he found a second address and when he arrived, Ortega took off running. The suspect reportedly jumped several fences and crossed several streets, and was eventually found hiding behind a fence.

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