EL RANCHO, N.M. (KRQE) – Nearly four years have passed since Cherie Ortiz-Rios found her family murdered inside their El Rancho home.
“I started to run toward her and that’s when I saw a hole close to her temple and dried blood down her face,” Ortiz-Rios told News 13 in a June 2012 interview.
Ortiz-Rios’s mom, dad and adopted baby brother were all killed with a pickaxe in the middle of the night in June 2011. The case went cold for years until last week. Police finally pinned the murders on Nicholas Ortiz, a friend of the family.
According to Ortiz’s arrest warrant, the teenager at the time, his girlfriend and a friend planned the attack so they could steal cash out of the family’s safe and steal marijuana.
Police said on the way to the house Ortiz’s friend chickened out. They say Ortiz went alone and murdered the three one-by-one, wearing plastic bags on his feet and socks on his hands so he wouldn’t leave any evidence behind.
Ortiz then told his friend and girlfriend about the murders.
Two days after the murders, a different friend told police that Ortiz admitted to a killing in El Rancho. A year later, Ortiz’s girlfriend called police and told them everything.
That was two and a half years ago, so what took police so long to nab him?
KRQE News 13 pressed state police for those answers Monday, but they wouldn’t comment, saying the investigation into these nearly 4-year-old murders is still ongoing. KRQE News 13 also reached out to Ortiz-Rios. She criticized police in the past saying they focused on her instead of the real killer. She says now she’s just trying to move on with her life.
Ortiz’s girlfriend was the getaway driver.
KRQE News 13 asked state police why she and his friend that helped plan the murders haven’t been charged. Police wouldn’t comment.