SALT LAKE CITY — Police have issued an arrest warrant for a man accused of killing a Utah County woman 20 years ago.

A warrant was issued Tuesday for Jose Ortiz-Garcia, 55, in connection with the Nov. 10, 1989, death of Lela Rockwell, 62. Ortiz-Garcia was charged in 3rd District Court on Tuesday with murder, aggravated robbery and three counts of aggravated sexual assault. All are first-degree felonies.

Rockwell's discarded nude body was found by a passer-by in a planter box under the old North Temple viaduct near 400 West. The cause of death was determined to be strangulation. Rockwell suffered broken ribs, head trauma and had multiple bite marks on her body from her head to her stomach, according to the charges.

Investigators determined Rockwell was also raped multiple times.

Her discarded purse was found nearby with items missing from it. Her shoes were also missing, the charges state.

Ortiz-Garcia is currently serving time in a federal prison in South Carolina on an unrelated charge. Preserved evidence from 1989 and re-examined by the Utah State Crime Lab and Sorenson Forensics helped investigators put the suspect's DNA into a national database where Ortiz-Garcia came up as a match.

Salt Lake Police Sgt. Robin Snyder said he will be extradited back to Utah to face charges here.

Rockwell was a homeless person whose last known address was in Fairfield. Her family's last known locations were in the Tooele and Delta areas, Snyder said, but police had lost touch with them in recent years. Anyone with information on the Rockwell family is asked to call Sgt. Kelly Kent at 801-799-3730.


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