By Victor O'Brien
Killeen Daily Herald
Saturday marked two years since a masked gunman killed two mothers at a Killeen Dollar General Store.
The unsolved case is now "cold" but the double homicide's detective, Karl Ortiz, keeps digging for new leads.
Ortiz is exploring cutting-edge forensic technology to help identify a suspect. Ortiz declined to go into specifics on the technology, but knows of an instance where it solved a murder. He hopes if given access to the technology, it will deliver an effective lead where previous leads dissolved into dead ends.
Sheila Reed, 40, and Gricelda Ramos, 28, were shot to death at the Dollar General Store in the 4100 block of Stan Schlueter Loop on July 4, 2007. A masked gunman shot the women soon after they arrived to open the store in the morning.
A security alarm sounded and alerted a nearby officer to the scene. The officer found the rear door open. Inside Ramos clung to life and Reed was dead. Ramos was transported to Scott & White Hospital where she was pronounced dead at 10:23 a.m.
A surveillance video captured the masked murderer on camera. The footage haunts Ortiz with possibility.
"There's nothing worse than seeing the murderer on film and not being able to do anything about it," Ortiz said. "It's just about as frustrating as knowing who committed the murder but you can't prove it."
Ortiz remains hopeful the case will be solved either when someone comes forward or the forensic technology provides a fresh lead.
"I'm not giving up on hope. As long I'm here with KPD I will remain hopeful," the 29-year KPD veteran said.
Ortiz absorbs hope from previous cases. Gary Thomas Prokop, 22, died of a single gunshot wound to the head on June 25, 1998.
He broke the dead-end case in 2001 when he interviewed Reuben James Salgado at an out-of-state jail. Salgado led police to the murder weapon and the case unfolded from there.
Prokop's wife, Tyshee Prokop received life in prison after she pleaded guilty. The shooter, Charles Turnbull III, also received a life sentence. Two others were sentenced in the conspiracy.
Prokop's father, Stanley Prokop, in San Diego at the time, called Ortiz every week like clockwork before the case was solved.
Ortiz counseled him to stay hopeful and assured Prokop one day they would meet. They met when Ortiz broke the case.
A plaque given by Prokop's father rests on Ortiz' wall.
"This makes it all worthwhile. This will beat any award," Ortiz said. "That's the result I want to see with this case. Get justice for the families."
Reward for tips
One phone call can break a case wide open, Ortiz said.
"Somebody out there knows who did it," he said.
Dollar General offered a reward of $15,000 last year to anyone who provides information leading to an arrest and conviction.
Anyone with information about these homicides should contact Karl Ortiz at (254) 501-8853, KPD at (254) 501-8800 or Crime Stoppers at (254) 526-TIPS (8477). Also visit www.killeencrimestoppers.com to provide anonymous tips.
Contact Victor O'Brien at email@example.com or (254) 501-7468.