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Document: Suspects in deadly fire were in a relationship, consumed meth and heroin together

The two suspects in a deadly mobile home fire in Sunland Park were in a “boyfriend-girlfriend relationship” and consumed drugs together, an arrest warrant obtained by ABC-7 states.

Juan Carlos Holguin and Jocelyn Ontiveros, both of Sunland Park, New Mexico, are facing a slew of charges, including arson, abuse of a child resulting in death and tampering with evidence. Police arrested both suspects in connection to the fire at 108 Mesquite Drive on December 13, 2018. The fire claimed the life of 8-year-old Marisa Muñoz, a 3rd grade student at Desert View Elementary. Four children and four adults inside the mobile home also suffered burn injuries.

The court document states investigators learned Holguin and Ontiveros, the two suspects in the fire, “did drugs together, to include methamphetamine and heroin, and that Ontiveros often obtained her drugs from Holguin.”

Investigators determined arson was to blame for the fire at 108 Mesquite Drive. The fire originated in a vehicle parked right next to the mobile home, then spread to the mobile home.

During their investigation into the fire, investigators interviewed two witnesses, ages 14 and eight, who live in close proximity to 108 Mesquite Drive. The 14 and eight year-olds told police, that at around 3 a.m., they witnessed an unknown person pouring gasoline from a red gasoline gas can onto a black car in front of 108 Mesquite Drive.

A fire investigator also traveled to Lubbock, Texas to speak with an 11-year-old boy who survived the fire. The boy allegedly told the investigator that around 2 a.m. he witnessed an individual wearing all black and a ski mask “with a red gas can outside of the residence.” The 11-year-old boy was “extremely upset that he did not alert his parents of the person outside the property because what he saw scared him, so he closed his eyes and went to sleep.” The boy said he woke up to screaming and the pain of his skin burning, an arrest warrant states.

Police arrested Juan Carlos Holguin on December 21, 2018 on an outstanding bench warrant. On that same day, investigators also arrested Salvador Holguin, identified in court documents as Juan Carlos’ brother, on an outstanding federal warrant. At the time of his arrest, Salvador Holguin allegedly told investigators he wished to speak with them regarding the fire at 108 Mesquite Drive.

Salvador Holguin told investigators Juan Carlos Holguin arrived at the home they shared at 4 a.m. the morning of the deadly fire. Salvador said Juan Carlos was wearing “all black” clothing and smelled like gasoline. When asked by Salvador why he smelled like gasoline, Juan Carlos replied, “No. I don’t,” then immediately took off his clothes and placed them in the washer, the court document states. Salvador told investigators this was “out of character” because Juan Carlos never washes his clothes, a domestic task usually performed by Salvador’s wife.

Salvador Holguin also told investigators Juan Carlos Holguin called their sister, who lives in close proximity to the victims, the morning of the fire to “inquire about the fire.” Salvador allegedly told investigators he believed Juan Carlos assisted Jocelyn Ontiveros in starting the fire at 108 Mesquite Hills Drive.

On December 21, 2018, investigators also spoke with Juan Carlos Holguin’s sister, only identified in court documents as Olga. “During the interview, the sister stated it would not surprise her if Juan Carlos Holguin was involved in the setting of the fire since he knew specific details (about the fire) that he should not have known,” the court document states.

Investigators then obtained a search warrant for the property at 105 Comerciantes, the Sunland Park residence where the Holguin brothers lived. Investigators allegedly recovered black pants and a black hoodie in “what appeared to be a fresh pile of clothes on Juan Carlos Holguin’s bedroom floor,” the court document states.

Under interrogation, Juan Carlos Holguin allegedly told investigators he witnessed a fight between a man identified in court documents as Jonathan Alvarado and Jocelyn Ontiveros. An arrest warrant states Ontiveros and Alvarado were also in a “boyfriend-girlfriend relationship.” Holguin told investigators, that during the fight, he overheard Ontiveros tell Alvarado “she wanted the bitch killed,” allegedly referring to a woman identified in court documents as Miriam Higadera. Ontiveros, Holguin said, also threatened physical violence against Higadera. According to the documents, Jonathan Alvarado and Miriam Higadera were “engaged in an active relationship and shared a 10-year-old boy.”

Court documents state Miriam Higadera lived in the mobile home at 108 Mesquite Drive and was the mother of Marisa Muñoz, the girl killed in the fire.

Jonathan Alvarado was arrested and jailed after he allegedly assaulted Jocelyn Ontiveros during the domestic dispute. An arrest warrant states, that soon after the deadly fire, Jocelyn Ontiveros made several calls to Jonathan Alvarado, who remained in jail. An agent with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security listened to the conversations between Ontiveros and Alvarado, the arrest warrant states. “On two occasions, Jocelyn Ontiveros told Jonathan Alvarado that someone blew up Miriam Higadera’s car, which in turn, caused the home to catch fire,” the arrest warrant states.

At the time of the conversation between Alvarado and Ontiveros, the details of the deadly fire had not been released to the media, so there was no way Ontiveros could have known the fire started with the car and then spread to the house.

A search of the residence where Jocelyn Ontiveros was staying after leaving her apartment in the wake of the fire allegedly turned up a black backpack with matches, butane and other items inside, court documents state.

Inside Jocelyn Ontivero’s black Dodge Charger, investigators found a blanket “that had the distinctive smell of gasoline and a red gasoline can” in the trunk, the arrest warrant states. Investigators also secured a cell phone during the execution of the search warrant. In the cell phone, they allegedly found several photos of the structure fire at 108 Mesquite Hills. The arrest warrant does not clarify whether the cell phone belonged to Jocelyn Ontiveros. The investigators also secured a laptop. When the laptop was opened, investigators realized there were several active tabs in the web browser. All of the tabs were linked to news articles of the deadly fire at 108 Mesquite Hills, the arrest warrant states.

Court documents obtained by ABC-7 state both Jocelyn Ontiveros and Juan Carlos Holguin will remain jailed without bond.

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