Crime

The love triangle that led to arson: What we know about the deadly Sunland Park fire

SUNLAND PARK, NM (KTSM) - The Sunland Park arson that claimed the life of an 8-year-old girl earlier this month may have been the result of a love triangle, an arrest affidavit suggests.

As KTSM previously reported, the fire happened at 108 Mesquite during the overnight hours of Dec. 13.

Marisa Munoz, 8, was killed in the fire while four other children and two adults were injured.

Police arrested Jocelyn Ontiveros, 30, and Juan Carlos Holguin, 42, in connection with the incident.

According to the affidavit, Ontiveros was involved in a domestic dispute with her boyfriend, Jonathan Alvarado, on Dec. 10.

Police arrested Alvarado on battery, false imprisonment, and robbery charges.

Investigators later learned that Alvarado was also in a relationship with Miriam Higadera, who lives at the home destroyed in the fire.

During the domestic dispute, Ontiveros told Alvarado that she wanted Higadera killed, the affidavit states.

According to investigators, Ontiveros and Holguin were also in a relationship and did heroin, meth, and other drugs together.

An 11-year-old boy injured in the fire later told investigators that he saw a person wearing all black clothing and a black ski mask with a red gas can outside the home at about 2 a.m.

The boy said he was scared, so he closed his eyes and went back to sleep. He was later awoken by screaming and felt he was burning.

"The minor is extremely upset that he did not alert his parents of the person outside the property," the affidavit states.

Two other children who live nearby also saw two people arguing before the fire, and witnessed one pouring "gasoline" from a red can onto a black car parked in front of the home.

Upon executing a search warrant of Ontiveros' mother's home, investigators discovered a black backpack full of butane, matches, and other items. Several black hoodies and shoes were also at the home.

The affidavit says that, during a search warrant of Ontiveros' black Dodge Charger, investigators found a red gas can, blanket with a distinct gasoline smell, and a cell phone containing a screenshot of the home after the fire.

Investigators also discovered a laptop with open pages about the fire, a search for forgiveness, and another search for closure, the affidavit reveals.

According to the affidavit, Holguin's brother, Salvador, told investigators that he came home early that morning, was wearing all black clothes, and smelled of gasoline.

Salvador Holguin said his brother then took off his clothes and placed them in the washing machine. Investigators later searched Holguin's bedroom and found the freshly-cleaned black hoodie and pants.

Ontiveros is facing 19 charges including arson and child abuse, while Holguin is facing 26 charges ranging from arson to assault with intent to commit a violent felony.

Both are being held at the Dona Ana County Detention Facility without bond.


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