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Bellingham police arrest suspected serial rapist, search for potential victims

A Bellingham man was arrested for attempted rape, and police believe it’s likely there are multiple victims.

Julio C. Ortiz-Ortiz, 27, was arrested and booked into Whatcom County Jail on Thursday, Nov. 22. He has since been bonded out from custody.

Investigators believe Ortiz-Ortiz may have targeted vulnerable men, such as those experiencing homelessness or incapacitated by alcohol or other substances, according to a news release from The Bellingham Police Department.

Ortiz-Ortiz would allegedly pick up victims in a black, two-door, extended-cab Toyota Tacoma. The vehicle is currently impounded by the Bellingham Police Department.

Julio C. Ortiz-Ortiz according to the Bellingham Police Department. Ortiz-Ortiz is suspected by BPD of being a serial rapist. He was arrested and booked into Whatcom County Jail Nov. 22, 2023. Bellingham Police Department/Bellingham Police Department
Julio C. Ortiz-Ortiz according to the Bellingham Police Department. Ortiz-Ortiz is suspected by BPD of being a serial rapist. He was arrested and booked into Whatcom County Jail Nov. 22, 2023. Bellingham Police Department/Bellingham Police Department

On Nov. 18 a man came forward to police, telling them a man named “Jay” (later identified as Ortiz-Ortiz) had brought him home, gave him alcohol and told him he could take a shower, according to the news release.

The victim said “Jay” had tried to enter the bathroom multiple times during the shower and would make unwanted, aggressive sexual advances toward him. “Jay” blocked the exit and would not let the victim leave, according to the alleged victim.

The man was forced to physically fight his way out of the residence, leaving several personal belongings behind including his shoes.

Bellingham police have received several past reports from close contacts of Ortiz-Ortiz’s alleged victims, who did not feel comfortable coming forward themselves, Megan Peters with BPD told The Bellingham Herald.

Police have reopened past investigations into Ortiz-Ortiz in an attempt to get other potential victims to come forward. Getting some victims to come forward has proven difficult because many are homeless without easy access to a phone and without a fixed address. Other potential victims have moved out of the area.

Police say it is likely there are more victims in Bellingham and potentially in nearby cities, including Seattle.

“We are concerned for Bellingham’s vulnerable population,” Bellingham Police Chief Rebecca Mertzig said in the news release. “To best protect our community, we need help from the public to better identify the scope of what we are dealing with. We are providing the community with Ortiz-Ortiz’s photo to see if there are additional victims. It is an extreme injustice when a person’s existing vulnerabilities expose them to victimization and predatory behavior.”

Ortiz-Ortiz is approximately 5 feet, 7 inches tall and weighs approximately 260 pounds, according to police. He has long, dark, wavy hair, brown eyes and a dark complexion. He also is bilingual, speaking English and Spanish.

“We are hoping that news of this incident helps give the victims, as well as any new, potentially unidentified victims, courage to share the details of their assault or attempted assault with us,” Peters said.

Ortiz-Ortiz is being charged with second-degree attempted rape and unlawful imprisonment with sexual motivation, both felonies.

Anyone with any information concerning incidents of sexual assault or similar incidents involving Ortiz-Ortiz is requested to call the non-emergency dispatch line at 360-676-6911.

Resources

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence or sexual assault, you can contact the following local resources for free, confidential support:

Lummi Victims of Crime, 360-312-2015

Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Services, 360-715-1563

WWU CASAS, 360-650-3700

Brigid Collins Family Support Center 360-734-4616.