Patricia Ortiz, the Le Grand mother who was arrested and accused of killing her three children in their beds on Jan. 12, has been formally charged with three counts of murder in the first degree.
The Merced County District Attorney’s Office filed charges Friday. In the criminal complaint, Ortiz is accused of killing each of her three children “with deliberation and premeditation,” enhanced by additional allegations of planning each of the kids’ murders as part of a multiple murder and by lying in wait.
She is scheduled to be arraigned on Wednesday. She is still in custody at the Merced County Jail, where she was re-booked last week after undergoing a psychological evaluation at the Marie Green Psychological Center. She is being held without bail.
A police report is under seal, according to a criminal division records clerk, and isn’t publicly available.
Anna Ortiz Lara, 8, Matteo Ortiz Lara, 5, and Alexa Ortiz Lara, 3, were all found deceased in the family’s apartment when authorities arrived on Jan. 12, although neighbors who saw the children first said they’d been dead for hours. The murders devastated and shocked the community, with many long-time Le Grand residents saying crime of this nature doesn’t happen in the small community just 20 minutes from Merced.
Ortiz had suffered from mental health problems for months, according to neighbors in the Le Grand apartment complex where she lived with her family. Ortiz’s husband, also the father of the children, alerted neighbors to the death of his children, and Ortiz was taken to the hospital for treatment of self-inflicted injuries. She was arrested shortly afterwards.
A relative of the family started a campaign on GoFundMe.com to help raise money for the children’s funeral expenses. As of Jan. 24, donations totaled $54,675, well past the $40,000 goal. It was not immediately clear as of press time Monday if a funeral has been scheduled for the children.