2007 murders called drug-related

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By David Giuliani

A state police official this week called last December’s double murder drug-related, as the agency released new details about the crime.

State police Lt. David Martinez said evidence and witness statements indicated that the murders were drug-related, but he wouldn’t say exactly why. He said a small amount of marijuana and items used for drug consumption were found in the mobile home at 728 Dora Celeste, where the murders occurred.

The bodies of Stephanie Dimas, 25, and Damian Lucero-Ortiz, 24, were found inside their home during the morning of Dec. 20.

This week, Martinez gave more details about the murders. While he said it wasn’t clear whether there was more than one suspect, he said it appeared as if the unmarried couple had let in the killer.

“This wasn’t a stranger or a secret intruder,” he said.

Martinez said it didn’t seem as if there was a struggle before the two were killed; the bodies were found in the living room.

Martinez said several items were stolen, but he wouldn’t reveal what they were so as not to tip off the killer.

He said state police found weapons inside the couple’s house but that they weren’t close enough for the victims to access them in time. He also said a gun was found outside the residence that the couple owned, but he said police haven’t determined how it got out there.

“We’re working closely with the district attorney’s office. They’re ultimately responsible for prosecuting. They have to feel comfortable with the evidence,” he said. “Just as much as the DA and the family, we want to charge someone. It’s a very difficult case.”

At the time of their deaths, both Dimas and Lucero-Ortiz were working to get their Highlands University degrees by May, with plans to become elementary school teachers. She was working on her master’s degree, while he was set to get his bachelor’s degree.