Crime

Arrest Warrant: Love triangle behind Sunland Park fire that killed 8-year-old girl

An arrest warrant obtained by ABC-7 states Jocelyn Ontiveros, the woman charged in a deadly fire that killed an 8-year-old girl, wanted the girl's mother "killed" because the girl's mother was in a relationship with Ontiveros' boyfriend.

Ontiveros, 30, is facing a slew of charges, including eight arson charges, abuse of a child resulting in death and tampering with evidence. Police accuse Ontiveros of setting fire to the mobile home at 108 Mesquite Drive on December 13, 2018.

The fire claimed the life of 8-year-old Marisa Muñoz, a 3rd grade student at Desert View Elementary.  A criminal complaint states Muñoz was unable to escape the fire and was found dead inside a bedroom once the fire was contained.

Two other children inside the home, Julian Duron Jr. and Jasmine Valenzuela, suffered burn wounds and were airlifted to a burn center in Lubbock, Texas for treatment. Two other minor children in the home, Desiree Ortega and Jonathan Alvarado, were transported to local hospitals for treatment. Four adult victims, identified in court documents as Miriam Higadera, Naomi Higadera, Felipe Higadera and Eric Sifuentes, were also treated at local hospitals.

An investigator determined the fire at the mobile home was not caused by electrical, mechanical, natural or accidental causes, the arrest warrant states. The investigator learned the fire was set intentionally and was ignited in a car parked "immediately in front of the mobile home, with the fire spreading to the mobile home itself."

The investigators also discovered a wire fence had been cut behind the residence at 108 Mesquite Drive and it appeared someone had gained entrance into the property via that opening in the fence. Investigators say they found footprints and broken glass near the opening in the fence.

Investigators later learned, that prior to the fire, Jonathan Alvarado and Jocelyn Ontiveros, who "were in a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship," were involved in a domestic dispute on December 10, 2018.  The fight resulted in Alvarado being arrested on charges of Domestic Battery, False Imprisonment, and Robbery against Ontiveros, a court document states.

According to the criminal complaint filed against Alvarado, Ontiveros told police she had been in an "off again, on again" relationship with Alvarado for about four years. On the night before their fight, Ontiveros was not feeling well and asked Alvarado to drive her to the hospital. On the way, Alvarado allegedly told Ontiveros, "you want to act like a (expletive), I'm going to treat you like a (expletive)" and then punched her. Ontiveros exited the vehicle and Alvarado drove away.

The next day, Alvarado apologized and Ontiveros left with him to her apartment on Fourth Street. As she was getting ready to go to work, Alvarado allegedly confronted Ontiveros because she had looked out a window three times. Alvarado, who Ontiveros claims was hearing and seeing things, allegedly grabbed a knife, went outside the apartment and yelled, "What the (expletive) you punk bitch. Come and get a piece of me!"

Ontiveros said she ignored Alvarado and resumed getting ready for work. At that point, Alvarado allegedly re-entered the apartment and punched Ontiveros in the face again. She fell to the floor and Alvarado allegedly continued punching her while yelling, "you are the biggest (expletive) in this city."

At that point, Ontiveros claimed, Alvarado grabbed her purse and stole about $500, her EBT card and her debit card. As Alvarado ran away, Ontiveros allegedly ran after him barefoot in an attempt to get her money. When police arrived at the scene, the criminal complaint states, Ontiveros told them she believed Alvarado had left to be with Miriam Higadera.

During their investigation into Jonathan Alvarado, investigators also learned Alvarado was also in a relationship with Miriam Higadera and that Alvarado and Higadera had a 10-month-old child together. During her fight with Jonathan Alvarado, Jocelyn Ontiveros allegedly "threatened physical violence against Miriam Higadera, telling Alvarado that she, Ontiveros, wanted Higadera killed," the arrest warrant states.

Miriam Higadera lived at the residence at 108 Mesquite Hill, the arrest warrant states.

After the deadly fire, investigators interviewed Juan Carlos Holguin, a.k.a "Yogi," who allegedly witnessed the fight between Jonathan Alvarado and Jocelyn Ontiveros. Holguin told investigators he overheard Ontiveros say "she wanted the bitch killed," allegedly referring to Miriam Higadera.

Investigators determined "the location of the cut fence, footprints and broken glass" at 108 Mesquite Hills is "adjacent to the area of Fourth Street."  The arrest warrant states Jocelyn Ontiveros lives at 212 Fourth Street, "which is in close proximity to the 108 Mesquite Hills address, where the structure fire occurred," the arrest warrant states.

A fire investigator traveled to Lubbock, Texas to speak with the 11-year-old boy burned in the fire. The boy allegedly told the investigator that around 2 a.m. he witnessed an individual wearing all black and ski mask "with a red gas can outside of the residence."  The arrest warrant states the 11-year-old boy was "extremely upset that he did not alert his parents of the person outside the property because what he saw scared him, so he closed his eyes and went to sleep."  The boy said he was woken up by screaming and the pain of his skin burning."

Investigators then interviewed two witnesses, ages 14 and eight, who live in close proximity to 108 Mesquite Hills Drive. The 14 and eight year-olds told police they witnessed an argument the evening of the fire and, at around 3 a.m., they witnessed an unknown person pouring gasoline from a red gasoline gas can onto a black car in front of 108 Mesquite Drive.

On December 16, 2018, investigators obtained a search warrant for Jocelyn Ontivero's property at 212 Fourth Street. During the execution of the search warrant, investigators learned the property had been cleaned out and abandoned.  The neighbors told police Ontiveros had moved out of the property immediately after the deadly fire at Mesquite Hills.

The arrest warrant states that soon after the deadly fire, Jocelyn Ontiveros made several calls to Jonathan Alvarado, who remained in jail for the assault during their domestic dispute. An agent with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security listened to the conversations between Ontiveros and Alvarado, the arrest warrant states. "On two occasions, Jocelyn Ontiveros told Jonathan Alvarado that someone blew up Miriam Higadera's car, which in turn, caused the home to catch fire," the arrest warrant states.

At the time of the conversation between Alvarado and Ontiveros, the details of the deadly fire had not been released to the media, so there was no way Ontiveros could have known the fire started with the car and then spread to the house.

After moving out of the residence at 212 Fourth Street, Jocelyn Ontiveros moved into her mother's residence at 249 Las Arenas in Sunland Park. Investigators then obtained a search warrant for the mother's home. "During the execution of the search warrant, a black backpack was located inside the home," the arrest warrant states, "Matches, butane and other items were found inside the backpack." Investigators also found several black hoodies and shoes inside the home on Las Arenas.

Inside Jocelyn Ontivero's black Dodge Charger, investigators found a blanket "that had the distinctive smell of gasoline and a red gasoline can" in the trunk, the arrest warrant states.  Investigators also secured a cell phone during the execution of the search warrant. In the cell phone, they allegedly found several photos of the structure fire at 108 Mesquite Hills.  The arrest warrant does not clarify whether the cell phone belonged to Jocelyn Ontiveros.  The investigators also secured a laptop. When the laptop was opened, investigators realized there were several active tabs in the web browser. All of the tabs were linked to news articles of the deadly fire at 108 Mesquite Hills, the arrest warrant states.

Sunland Park police also arrested and charged 42-year-old Juan Carlos Holguin in connection to the deadly arson case. Holguin, who witnessed the fight between Ontiveros and Alvarado days before the fire, was arrested Friday, December 21, at  around 4:15 p.m. That is around seven hours before Jocelyn Ontiveros was arrested. Holguin faces 39 charges, including eight for arson. ABC-7 is working to obtained the arrest warrants for Holguin to learn his exact role in the deadly fire.


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