Venezuelan migrant arrested in capital murder case in woman's death at El Paso motel


Daniel Borunda, El Paso Times
Mon, June 5, 2023 at 6:56 PM EDT

A Venezuelan migrant accused of killing a Honduran woman at an El Paso motel was arrested over the weekend in Fort Worth, police officials said.

Eddy Jose Ortega Alvarado, 34, faces a capital murder charge for allegedly killing 40-year-old Carmen Unilda Navas Zuniga and stealing her money at the Budget Lodge Motel, 1301 N. Mesa St., El Paso police said.

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Ortega was arrested Friday with the assistance of Fort Worth police. On Monday, he remained held under a $2.5 million bond at the Tarrant County Corrections Center awaiting extradition to El Paso, according to an online jail log.

The woman's death occurred a day after she and Ortega had crossed the border into the United States and were processed and released by the U.S. Border Patrol on May 20, police said in a statement.

Eddy Jose Ortega Alvarado, of Venezuela, is accused of capital murder in the death and robbery of Carmen Unilda Navas Zuniga, 40, of Honduras, on May 21 at the Budget Lodge Motel, 1301 N. Mesa St. in El Paso.

On the afternoon of May 21, Navas was found dead by motel staff under what El Paso police detectives initially described as "suspicious" circumstances at the motel located just north of Downtown, across the street from Cathedral High School.

The rooms at the motel had been previously used as a suspected "stash house" for undocumented migrants. In April, Border Patrol agents detained 43 migrants at the motel, where bed sheets had been tied together as a makeshift rope to try to escape from second-floor windows.

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Detectives learned that additional people had stayed in the motel room with Navas and identified Ortega as a person of interest in the case, which was later determined to be a homicide, officials said.

Investigators learned that Ortega had left El Paso and was in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

On Friday, El Paso police homicide detectives met and questioned Ortega in Fort Worth, obtaining information leading investigators to suspect he killed Navas and stole her money, police said.

Further details regarding the death of Navas have not been disclosed because the case is still an active investigation, officials said.

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Under Texas law, capital murder can be considered when a person is killed during the commission of another crime, such as a robbery. Capital murder is punishable by the death penalty or life in prison without parole.

The migrant woman's death is considered the sixth of seven murders in El Paso so far this year, compared with nine at this time last year, a police spokesman said Monday.

This article originally appeared on El Paso Times: Venezuelan migrant accused of killing Honduran woman at El Paso motel