In certain situations where a life is taken senselessly, you hope that our justice system will make the right choices and choose the right punishment.

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Back on Tuesday, November 29th, the Amarillo Police Department was called out to the parking lot of a convenience store near East I-40 and Lakeside.  The call was about an unresponsive female. Upon arrival Amarillo PD discovered 34-year-old Iliana Michelle Garza deceased from an apparent homicide. The Amarillo Police Department called in their Homicide Unit to investigate.

The APD Homicide Unit located the suspect, John Paul Ortega, a 35-year-old male. Ortega was arrested for murder and booked into the Potter County Detention Center.

On Wednesday, February 15th, The Potter County Grand Jury handed down the indictment for Ortega.  He was indicted for Capital Murder for the death of Illiana Garza and her unborn child after it was determined that Garza was pregnant and the child was also killed in the murder.

According to Sarah Clark, mother to Illiana's godson

When I was homeless with a newborn, she was the one who took me in and showed me how to be a mom.
Photo Courtesy Sarah Clark Iliana Garza is sitting in the picture.
Photo Courtesy Sarah Clark
Iliana Garza is sitting in the picture.

According to Clark, more than anything, Iliana loved her three children. She was a force of nature and was known for her fierce determination to persevere and overcome the many obstacles she faced.

If convicted of Capital Murder Ortega, faces life in prison or the death penalty.  If the death penalty is not sought, then Ortega faces life in prison without parole.

Capital Murder in Texas is defined as:

Section 19.03 of the Texas Penal Code defines the crime of capital murder. Under the law, capital murder includes committing one of the offenses defined under the murder statute and does one or more of the following:

  • The person murders a peace officer or fireman who is acting in an official duty;
  • The person intentionally commits the murder in the course of committing or attempting to commit kidnapping, burglary, robbery, aggravated sexual assault, arson, obstruction or retaliation, or terroristic threat;
  • The person commits or solicits a murder for hire;
  • The person commits the murder while escaping or attempting to escape from a penal institution;
  • The person, while incarcerated murders another person;
  • The person murders more than one person;
  • The person murders a person aged ten years old or younger; or
  • The person murders another person involved in service with the judiciary.


REVIEW: Amarillo Homicides in 2022

The year 2021 saw a staggering 24 homicides in Amarillo, Texas--the highest number the city had seen since 1994. A lower figure for 2022 was predicted, but the year finished out with a total of 28 homicides.

Below is a partial list of those accused in this year's murders. We have intentionally left off this list those who have been No Billed by a grand jury, had their charges modified to a lesser offense, or wherein the accused is a juvenile.

This is not an exhaustive list and is subject to change, pending legal proceedings.

Updated: January 10, 2022

Unsolved Murders of Amarillo, Texas

These are the unsolved murders of Amarillo, Texas.

If you have any information or if you know something, call Amarillo Crime Stoppers at 806-374-4400. 

Amarillo Murders in 2021

With an official tally of 27 murders, the year 2021 saw the highest number of homicides in Amarillo since 1994.

Below is a closer look at the year's criminal acts that resulted in life lost.

**Note from the Editor: The following is not an exhaustive list. We have compiled what you see below from news reports, official police statements, along with where the case stands in the court system. If you see any errors in reporting or fact, please email the editor directly at along with any supporting documents.

We wish to stress that all individuals charged are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

***Not pictured: Edward Matthew Gamez

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