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Man charged in 1989 cold case murder

Published June 8, 2010 6:05 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2010, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The Salt Lake County Attorney's Office charged a 55-year-old man with capital murder Tuesday in the 20-year-old cold case murder of a Utah woman.

Jose Ortiz-Garcia is charged in the death of Lela Rockwell. The 62-year-old's body was found by a passerby in a planter box on Nov. 10, 1989, near 380 West and North Temple, police and prosecutors said.

Rockwell's purse and belongings were found scattered not far from her naked body. An autopsy showed Rockwell had broken ribs and bones, cuts, bruises and bite marks on her body. She was strangled.

Investigators also believe Rockwell was sexually assaulted and robbed by Ortiz-Garcia, charging documents state.

Investigators matched preserved DNA found at the crime scene to a DNA sample from Ortiz-Garcia, who is in a federal prison in South Carolina.

Ortiz-Garcia also was charged Tuesday with first-degree felony aggravated robbery and three counts of first-degree felony aggravated sexual assault.

Jason Bergreen