2nd murder arrest made in deadly Rochester missing person case involving Florida car fire


ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Rochester police announced a second murder arrest in connection to a deadly 2019 missing persons case that involved a car fire in Florida.

Earlier this month, Kimberly Jones was arrested for the murder of 39-year-old Samuel Ortiz of Rochester. She was charged with murder, kidnapping, robbery, and possession of stolen property.

Friday, Rochester police announced 42-year-old David Gardner of Rochester was also arrested in connection to the case. Officials say he is charged with second degree murder, first degree robbery, first degree kidnapping, and fourth degree criminal possession of stolen property. Gardner is scheduled to be arraigned Saturday in Rochester City Court.

Police say Lake Section officer discovered the body of Samuel Ortiz in a garage on Lakeview Park on the afternoon of July 13, 2019. Ortiz was the focus of a missing person investigation when his body was found — he was last seen on July 7, 2019.

Ortiz’s vehicle was later located in Brandon Florida, engulfed in flames, on July 9, 2019.

A criminal complaint alleges Jones acted with Gardner in abducting, assaulting, and restraining Ortiz in a manner which ultimately led to his death. Police allege that during the abduction, Jones stole property belonging to Ortiz.

Police say after the murder, robbery, and kidnapping, Jones fled to Florida. Officials say video evidence showed Jones in possession of Ortiz’ property after he was murdered.

MORE | Police looking for man in Florida who may have information in death of Rochester man

Rochester police say Tampa officers came across Jones while performing a routine check at a “problem location” within their jurisdiction. Upon running her name for warrants, Tampa police learned she had an outstanding arrest warrant in New York state for parole absconding. She was then taken into custody and extradited back to New York where she remained in custody until Thursday morning.

Jones was arraigned in Rochester City Court Friday morning. She pleaded not guilty to all charges and is being held on no bail, no release.

From the Rochester Police Department:

In August of 2019 the exhaustive investigation into the brutal murder of Samuel Ortiz led Rochester Police Major Crime’s investigators to Charlotte, North Carolina. Working with the United States Marshals Violent Felony Fugitive Task Force, David Gardner was located in Charlotte and taken into custody on an outstanding NYS Parole Absconding warrant. He had been in custody since that time on the Parole Absconding.

In November of 1997, Gardner was charged with Murder 2nd for the shooting death of John Webster @ 218 Hamilton Street. He was convicted of Manslaughter 1st and sentenced to 12 ½ – 25 years in Prison. In January 2014, Gardner was released from prison and put on parole. In December 2018, Gardner was arrested for violating parole. In January 2019, Gardner was re-paroled to Rochester.

The investigation into the brutal kidnapping and murder of Samuel Ortiz was complex, lengthy and meticulous. It spanned across many states between Rochester and the State of Florida. The arrest of David Gardner and Kimberly Jones is the result of the hard work of the Rochester Police Department’s Major Crimes and Patrol Section Investigators, the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office, as well as our local and Federal Law Enforcement partners to include:
Monroe County Crime Analysis Center New York State Police Monroeville Pennsylvania Police Department Rowan County Sheriff’s Office North Carolina Hillsborough County Florida Sheriff’s Office State of Florida Department of Law Enforcement Tampa Bay Florida Police Department FBI Rochester Violent Crimes Task Force United States Marshals Regional Violent Felony Fugitive Task Force

The Rochester Police Department is grateful for the cooperation of our Local & Federal Law Enforcement partners, as well as those in Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Florida. It was the collaborative effort from members of all the agencies that resulted in the arrest of both David Gardner and Kimberly Jones.

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