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Man charged in Utah murder indicted for another murder in Oregon

Published July 6, 2012 10:45 am

DNA • DNA evidence links man to two cold case murders in Utah and Oregon
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A 57-year-old man who was charged in 2010 with capital murder in a 20-year-old cold case murder of a Utah woman, was indicted for murder in Oregon Thursday.

The bodies of Lela Rockwell, a 62-year-old Utahn, and Kuen Yin Ng, a 33-year-old transient from Oregon, were found just eight days apart in November 1989, and prosecutors say one man — Jose Ortiz-Garcia — is responsible for both deaths.

Ortiz-Garcia, 57, has been at the Salt Lake County jail since charges were filed against him in 2010 connected to Rockwell's death. The woman's body was found by a passerby in a planter box on Nov. 10, 1989, near 380 West and North Temple, according to police. An autopsy showed Rockwell had broken ribs and bones, cuts, bruises and bite marks on her body. She was strangled, 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 was in a federal prison in South Carolina in 2010.In addition to aggravated murder, Ortiz-Garcia was charged with aggravated robbery and three counts of sexual assault, all first degree felonies, in connection to Rockwell's death.

Ng's body was found on the shores of the Willamette River on November 28, 1989, according to the Portland Police Bureau. Cold case detectives began reviewing Ng's murder in May 2010, and began re-examining evidence in the case. Ultimately, police say they were able to use DNA evidence to link the murder to Ortiz-Garcia, who also goes by the alias Roberto Garcia-Lopez.

jmiller@sltrib.com

Twitter: @jm_miller