SANTA FE – Triple murder defendant Nicholas Ortiz had a plastic bag on one foot and his clothes were soaked in blood when he called for a ride the night three members of a family were bludgeoned to death in their Santa Fe County home, court document state.
Ortiz, now 20 years old but 16 at the time of the killings, told friend Ashley Roybal that “he had socks on each of his hands during the murders and threw them away before she picked him up,” Roybal told State Police during a October 2012 interview, according to a State Police affidavit.
Ortiz told Roybal he lost the other bag he was wearing on his foot in a river, the affidavit says.
Ortiz is charged with three counts of first-degree murder in the June 2011 Father’s Day pickax slayings of Lloyd Ortiz, 55, his wife Dixie Ortiz, 53, and their adopted son Steven Ortiz, 21, at their El Rancho home. Nicholas Ortiz is not related to the murder victims.
Although court documents from the State Police say that a witness told investigators as early as two days after the killings nearly four years ago that Ortiz had confessed to the murders, he was not arrested until Friday. A State Police spokeswoman said last week that “given the dynamics of the investigation,” law enforcement had to proceed cautiously.
Ortiz had intended to steal $20,000 said to have been kept in a safe in the home to buy drugs in a plan hatched a couple of hours before the killings with Ashley and Jose Roybal, the police documents say. Ashley Roybal provided the murder weapon, which she got from her grandparents’ home, and suggested killing the three Ortizes, Jose Roybal is quoted by police as saying.
State Police are seeking prints from Ortiz for comparison to “two unknown latent prints” taken from a kitchen countertop and from an exterior door at the crime scene when police processed it.
“Major case prints” from Ortiz “are needed to provide a sufficient standard against which the prints from the scene may be compared,” a search warrant affidavit from Feb. 12 and which was made public Wednesday states.
Possibly problematic for investigators trying to use prints as evidence in the case is that Nicholas Ortiz had stayed with the Ortiz family “on previous occasions” before the killings, the police charging documents say. State Police reports released in 2012 said that a 16-year-old had been staying with the family but had been run off for stealing marijuana from them.
According to affidavit for fingerprints, Jose Roybal told police he “didn’t want to kill the Ortizes and Nicholas was trying to talk him into doing it.” After Ashley dropped both Nicholas and Jose off at the Ortiz home to rob the safe, Nicholas told Jose “to wait there for him and he would go kill them himself,” according to Jose’s account as reported by police. Jose said he held the pickax for a moment as Nicholas urinated before Nicholas headed for the house.
According to Ashley Roybal’s statement to police, after she picked up Ortiz when he called her about 3 a.m. the night of the murders, she drove him to her grandparents’ house so he could take a shower and “he was crying and told her that ‘I (expletive) up, I (expletive) up.’ ” Ashley Roybal said she gave him a trash bag for the bloody clothes and gave him black sweatpants, a white T-shirt and socks to wear home, according to the police affidavit.