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Arrest made in 2011 triple murder in northern Santa Fe County

SANTA FE, N.M. — New Mexico State Police have arrested a man in a Father’s Day 2011 triple slaying at a home in El Rancho in northern Santa Fe County in which a pickax is believed to have been the murder weapon.

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Nicholas Ortiz, 20, was arrested Friday and charged with a triple homicide from 2011 in the El Rancho community in northern Santa Fe County.

Nicholas Ortiz, 20, of Pojoaque, on Friday was charged with three counts of murder, tampering with evidence, and bribery or intimidation of a witness, according to a State Police press release.

Killed were Lloyd Ortiz, 55, his wife Dixie Ortiz, 53, and Steven Ortiz, their 21-year-old adopted son. They all had been bludgeoned to death.

A State Police spokeswoman could not confirm whether Nicholas Ortiz was a relative of the homicide victims.

But Gene Watson of Santa Fe, Dixie Ortiz’s mother, said Friday night that Nicholas Ortiz is not related to the family that was killed. She said relatives of the victims don’t know who Nicholas Ortiz is or why he would be accused in the killings. “That’s one of the things we’re trying to find out about,” she said.

The State Police spokeswoman said more information would likely be released on Monday.

Lloyd and Dixie were survived by two daughters, who the Journal could not reach for comment Friday.

According to previous reports, one of the daughters, Cherie Ortiz-Rios, found the bodies and called 911 the evening of June 19, 2011, which was Father’s Day. Ortiz-Rios had been cooking an enchilada dinner for her father and went over to the house to tell him that it was almost ready.

Lloyd Ortiz, who operated a tile business at the same address, was found face down outside the home west of Pojoaque. Dixie Ortiz, who worked at the Sombrillo Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Los Alamos, was found on her bed. Steven Ortiz was found in the kitchen.

Steven Ortiz had suffered a brain injury from shaken baby syndrome before he was adopted by the Ortizes and was a special needs student at Pojoaque Valley schools.

Gertrude Santana, Steven’s grandmother, said Friday night that she was glad to hear about the arrest. “I get shivers all over,” she said. “I just want the person who did it to pay for what they did to my grandson and his mom and dad. We just want closure.” She had never heard of Nicholas Ortiz.

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This highway billboard was used to ask the public to help solve the murders of Dixie, Lloyd and Steven Ortiz, who were bludgeoned to death at their home in El Rancho, near Pojoaque, in June 2011. (Courtesy photo)

Autopsies revealed that each of the victims suffered injuries to the head.

The pick ax, or perhaps a garden pick, was found during a search of the property a few days after the killings.

State Police said in 2012 that they had processed 50 pieces of evidence, conducted about 120 interviews, and executed 10 search warrants in connection to the case.

Previous reports indicate Lloyd Ortiz grew medical marijuana at the home and two weeks before the killings confronted someone who had snuck onto the property.

Nicholas Ortiz would have been 16 at the time of the killings. He was booked into the Santa Fe County jail about 6 p.m. Friday and was being held without bond. Jail records shows that he pent three days in jail last year for failing to appear in court. It’s unclear what charge he was facing.

 

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A 20-year-old Pojoaque man has been arrested for the one of northern New Mexico’s most horrible crimes in recent years – the 2011 triple homicide in which three members of a Pojoaque-area family were bludgeoned to death.

The State Police said Nicholas Ortiz was arrested today on three murder counts and for  tampering with evidence and bribery or intimidation of a witness.

He is charged in the June 2011 deaths in the El Rancho community of Dixie Ortiz, 53, and  Lloyd Ortiz, 55, and their son Steven Ortiz, 21.

The killing occurred at the Ortiz’s home. Police have they believe all three victims were killed with blows from a bloody pickax found on the property. Lloyd Ortiz was found face-down outside the home, while Dixie was on her bed. Steven’s body was found in the kitchen. They died from injuries to their heads, according to autopsy reports.

A State Police news release today said, “The arrest made in this complex investigation is an example of the vigilant pursuit of justice by NMSP agents, along with the cooperation and assistance from the First Judicial District Attorney’s Office.” The state Homeland Security Department’s Albuquerque office was singled out for special thanks.”Their contributions were key to developing the information necessary to make this arrest,” the news release said

Below is a July 19, 2013 Journal article on the second anniversary of the triple homicide.

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By Bill Rodgers/Journal North Staff

Angela Ortiz can’t shake the fear that she’s seen the person who bludgeoned her family to death in the two years since their murders in El Rancho.

She wonders whether she’s seen the person who killed her father, mother and brother in public, or stood behind them in the grocery store, or maybe even shook their hand. Two years since the infamous Father’s Day killings of Lloyd Ortiz, 55; his wife Dixie, 53, and their adopted son Steven, 21, on June 19, 2011, the case is still unsolved and the person responsible is still at large, says Ortiz.

“It drives me nuts,” she said. “It’s just – so many people are going on with their lives. Whoever did this is obviously a psychopath and is still out there.”

And, if you live in the El Rancho and Pojoaque areas, that thought should scare you, too, she said. She’s afraid that someone knows some crucial bit of information that could bring the murderer to justice, but is refusing to say anything.

She said that she once wrote down what she would say to someone who knew something about the killings but wasn’t saying anything.

“Whoever did this has destroyed my life and my sister’s (Cherie Ortiz-Rios) life,” she said. “Nothing will ever be the same again, ever again. We go through every single holiday without our families when they’re possibly celebrating it with theirs.”

Ortiz said that her parents’ home sits vacant. Her sister lives nearby, but Ortiz said she doesn’t like going by the home where the murders occurred.

The fear and belief that someone is keeping silent are just two things behind Ortiz’s frustration as the State Police investigation turns up no new details, or at least none they’re willing to share with her. She calls often asking if investigators have any new information, tips or news – anything that could comfort her. She said she gets the same answer each time.

” ‘The case is moving forward, we’re going to get this solved,’ That’s all they say,” she said. “… Basically I’m just really unhappy with the way they’re handling me. I don’t know what progress they made at all.”

State Police Chief Robert Shilling held a news conference on the case last year, in which he said that there would be news breaking in the case in July. But that month came and went with no new information, and to this day State Police have been silent on what that July announcement was supposed to be.

According to State Police spokesman Sgt. Emmanuel Gutierrez, who gave no new details about the case, the murders are still being actively worked on and the case hasn’t gone cold.

“We want the family to know that this is the most important case on our books,” he said. “We’re working on it daily.”

He said that State Police hasn’t released new details to avoid putting the investigation at risk. He said State Police is working with different law enforcement agencies, but again, he would not say which ones.

He also would not say whether the Ortiz family had been removed from the investigation. At the press conference last year, Shilling would not call any family members suspects.

Angela Ortiz said she would consider hiring a private investigator once the case goes cold. Gutierrez said that was her prerogative, but that the case is still active.

Shilling said last year that the investigation has included about 120 interviews with people living in places such as California, Oklahoma, Arizona and New Mexico. The investigation processed 50 pieces of evidence, executed 10 search warrants and ran “impact” patrols in the El Rancho area.

The killing occurred at the Ortiz’s home in El Rancho. Police believe all three victims were killed with blows from a bloody pickax found on the property. Lloyd Ortiz was found face-down outside the home, while Dixie was on her bed. Steven’s body was found in the kitchen. They died from injuries to their heads, according to autopsy reports.

Ortiz said previously that her father grew medical marijuana at home and two weeks before the killings confronted someone sneaking onto the property. Ortiz said previously she didn’t think robbery was a motive but she said that a cash box disappeared after the slayings. She also said her family found another box or safe with its pins pulled out in a trash bin outside the home. Shilling was unable to confirm last year whether anything was taken from the house.

Attempts by the Journal to reach Ortiz-Rios were not successful.

Lloyd was a tile contractor. Dixie worked at a Los Alamos nursing home. Steven had a brain injury stemming from shaken baby syndrome, which he suffered before he was adopted by the Ortiz family. Shilling said police do not believe Steven’s mental issues played a role in his parents’ deaths. Dixie Ortiz told a doctor in 2007 that Steven had been hearing voices telling him to commit violence, but Angela Ortiz said her brother was “a gentle giant” who spoke of voices as a way to describe his thoughts.

The State Police are still asking for public assistance. Anyone with information in the case is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 505-955-5050. Calls to this line can remain anonymous.

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