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Crime News Cold Cases

‘We Know He Was Murdered That Night:’ Family Pleads For Help In Son’s 2010 Halloween Disappearance

David Ortiz Jr. was just granted visitation with his son after a year-long custody battle just days before his sudden disappearance.

By Jax Miller
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It’s been 11 years since a New Mexico man disappeared on Halloween night, and his parents are pleading with the public for help getting answers.

David Ortiz Jr., 18, left his grandparents’ house at around 5:00 p.m. on Oct. 31, 2010, according to NBC News. His cousin told his parents that David stopped at the Snappy Mart, where the cousin worked, to buy a pack of cigarettes at around 9:00 p.m. Though he had plans to later meet with friends for Halloween, he was never seen again.

David’s parents appeared on Dateline to appeal for information.

“It may be only one person who knows what happened, but all we need is one,” said David’s mother, Elizabeth Ortiz. “We know he’s not with us anymore. We know he was murdered that night. And he deserves justice.”

David’s sudden disappearance rang peculiar to those who knew him best. Days before, he was granted visitation rights to see his 1-year-old son, Joshua, after a year-long custody battle with the boy’s mother, his family told Dateline. On the night before Halloween, David and the child had their first visit together.

“He was so happy to have Joshua back in his life,” David’s mother told Dateline. “He was so happy to be a father. And he was a great father.”

Former Silver City Police Chief Ed Reynolds cited a lack of leads in the case back in 2016, according to the Albuquerque Journal, saying, “We haven’t received any new tips or anything on this case.”

But family members say that rumors have abounded in the small town of Silver City  in the years following David’s disappearance. One of them included a story that someone beat David to death, thrown him in the trunk of a car, and dumped him at a landfill, according to NBC News. In April 2011, authorities searched the Southwest Solid Waste Authority, but to no avail.

Another tip in 2012 led to a Silver City residence, said relatives. But even with the help of a cadaver dog, the search yielded no results.

“We feel like the people who have information are too scared to come forward,” David’s mother told Dateline. “But we need their help.”

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The case took a tragic turn for David’s family when David’s sister, Nichole Leon Ortiz, 21, was killed.

On Sept. 29, 2021, Silver City Police arrested Christopher Calloway, 23, after they found Nichole dead in their shared home during a welfare check, according to The Global Dispatch. Christopher claimed he and Nichole were playing a game of Russian Roulette, and when Calloway tried to take the gun from her, it went off and killed her.

According to The Global Dispatch, their 2-month-old child was with them.

Calloway pleaded no contest to charges of child abuse and negligent use of a deadly weapon, according to NBC News.

David’s parents told Dateline they believed their daughter’s tragic death could be related to their son’s disappearance.

“Silver City is a small community,” said David’s mother. “And there is a lot of corruption here. And if you’re on the side of those covering things up, you don’t get in trouble. But if you go against them, you end up like my daughter.”

After Nichole Leon Ortiz’s death, the rumors of what happened to David persisted. In 2017, police searched a Silver City residence after an inmate drew a map for authorities with an ‘X’ to mark where they could find David’s remains, according to NBC News. Authorities found only animal bones.

The mystery continues to baffle relatives.

“He’s the kid that I would have a heart-to-heart conversation with,” said his relative, Laura Jean, according to The Albuquerque Journal. “He’s the kid that was excited/scared to be a dad. He’s the kid that fought to be in his son’s life up to the day he went missing.”

“Somebody knows something,” Elizabeth Ortiz continued. “Maybe just one person. But one person is all it takes.”

Anyone with information is urged to contact the Silver City Police Department at 575-538-3723.