Search warrant: State police found marijuana plants in home of triple homicide

Posted: June 29, 2011 in Uncategorized
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New Mexico State Police

It’s hard to imagine some marijuana plants being the motive in any way behind the gruesome triple homicide of a family in El Rancho last week, but it could have been a small piece of the puzzle.

State police search warrant affidavits indicate that after a family member found the Ortiz family —  Lloyd, 55, Dixie, 53, and Steven, 21, who are to be buried Friday according to their obituary — dead in three different locations in the family home at 3B Coral Street in El Rancho, another family member told police there was a “marijuana grow somewhere inside the residence.”

Sure enough, 17 marijuana plants were found in the Ortiz home in a search conducted the morning after they were found bludgeoned to death, presumably with the 5-pound “blood-stained pickax” found on the family’s property.

Seventeen plants, according to one non-state police law enforcement official I spoke with recently, seems far more likely to be for personal use than distribution and the Ortiz family has no criminal conviction record of note. But people aware of the grow in the home could have been at the center of an argument or dispute that escalated into the triple homicide. State police would not say whether the 17 plants found were the only ones believed to be in the home or whether some marijuana — more plants or otherwise — had been stolen from the the home before the bodies were discovered.

The Albuquerque Journal reports a source told that newspaper that Steven Ortiz, the 21-year-old special needs son who was legally blind, was likely the target of the the attack while Lloyd and Dixie, his parents, were simply bludgeoned to death but not the target of the killing. I have spoken with multiple people in state police who would not confirm that information and there are several other items I have not yet published without multiple source confirmation as of yet.

State police Sgt. Tim Johnson, the agency’s brand new media spokesman who has cut his teeth on one heck of a case as investigators have continually asked that information be kept from the press out of fear it would hamper their ability to keep the upper hand on any suspects, told me Tuesday that there is a lot of evidence at the state crime lab awaiting analysis.

That likely includes finger prints and shoe impressions left at the crime scene that were listed in the search warrant return I got a copy of Tuesday afternoon.

There are a lot more details in the story published in Wednesday’s New Mexican, including more details about the mix up when police were operating under the presumption the Ortizes had been shot and confiscated plenty of rifles and firearms from the home and only went back to look for the bloody pickax after the autopsy showed the family had not been shot. Here you go:

And some other links:


  1. Go Elks says:

    geoff why did the Albuquerque Journal report last week this was a garden pick murder? A five pound pick axe is a much different tool than a garden pick. You can use both in your garden I guess but a five piound pick axe isn’t the same tool as a smaller garden pick. And another thing I know the family and Im sure they dont like the fact that they were growing weed being printed but I also know they have appreciated your reporting on the story so good job.

  2. Vic Amuso says:

    Why does everyone flip out once pot growing in the home was mentioned? Oh oh they had prescription drugs in their medicine cabinets too? So what. Obviously they were not killed because of the pot. Pot dosent even make you violent like alcohol does. If it was cocaine, heroine, meth I could see. So I guess the pot therory could be ruled out.

    • geoffgrammer says:

      The theory being pursued by investigators was less about a possible theft of marijuana plants, but what side motives from owning plants may have sprung up and who may have known of the plants with a possible intent to score some drugs and something far worse escalated during a confrontation with the Ortiz family. If something arose from pot being in the house (even in part), that didn’t mean the suspects were high on pot at the time of the killing. I very much agree marijuana isn’t associated with making people violent, but that doesn’t mean the suspect was high on pot when the violence erupted. I can tell you police continue to look into what else was stolen from the home and why. Marijuana plants could very well have nothing to do with this whole thing, but it is most definitely something investigators have said has been part of the investigation.

      Geoff Grammer

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